Would you, could you, explain the best wood to use in wood fired pizza ovens?
It’s not such a hard question when it comes to getting a hot bubbly and crispy pizza from an authentic wood-fired pizza oven. Perhaps it’s the nostalgia that makes this unique pizza taste better knowing that it doesn’t fall over limp when you pick up a fresh slice. It might just be the savory smoky flavor that tells you this crust is not your average electric pizza oven either. When it comes to using wood for wood-fired pizza ovens, why does it matter so much?
What makes a good wood fired pizza?
There is a little-known secret about wood-fired pizza ovens that many folks forget that makes pizza so good. Not just good- but great, since something magical happens to your pizza as soon as it goes into these amazing ovens. If you didn’t know already, the heat that is created inside a brick oven is much higher than traditional ovens are capable of achieving. Commonly, the average temperature at the minimum is 800 degrees Fahrenheit.
What this does is very simple since the entire cooking chamber is radiating heat around a pizza underneath and above. The total time it takes to cook a pizza is a couple of minutes. Pizza chefs need to have a keen eye for keeping track of their pizzas for one simple reason. This reason often includes a pizza crust burning in little or no time if you aren’t careful. So the difference between a good and great pizza can be the difference between 10 seconds!
This is why you see so many other websites dumbing down the oven temperatures to typically mention 700-750 degrees Fahrenheit. The real secret to what will make a great-tasting pizza inside a wood-fired oven starts with being a good pizza chef. Perhaps this sounds a little like we don’t care about encouraging you, but that’s untrue. Our goal is to help teach you to be confident with your pizza-making skills.
Why does brick oven pizza taste better?
What happens to your pizza dough when it starts to cook in the oven is a matter of how bread is baked. You wouldn’t bake bread in an oven for several minutes just so it’s soft and mushy, the whole premise of a wood-fired oven is to get a combined effect that changes the dough as a whole. The outside crust becomes crispy while the inside is spongy yet firm, giving you an unmistakable chew.
The longer that a pizza cooks in an oven, the faster that liquid can start to soak your crust. Pizza also contains a lot of toppings that can otherwise make your crust soggy. This is why high heat reduces the time the crust cooks and is just enough to melt the cheese over the top. Anything else is typically ready to eat even before you put it on. Pepperoni, olives, tomatoes, onions, and sausage are simply heated up as they’re baked into your pizza.
What is the best wood for wood-fired pizza ovens?
If you haven’t noticed already, wood-fired pizza ovens have an unmistakable flavor that is aromatic and slightly smoky. For those of us who grew up around good old-fashioned BBQ cooking, you’ll admit that oak wood offers an amazing flavor. But it’s not just because it helps give pizza an authentic taste, it’s primarily because seasoned oak burns clean and hot for a long time.
Other good choices include maple, ash, beech, and birch hardwood that are dried and seasoned. Depending on where this type of wood is most plentiful, that will also determine what you’ll use since it’s local. It’s not uncommon that true pizza oven and BBQ pitmasters will be hunting down these types of wood after a big storm or hurricane. This wood is chopped up and allowed to dry until it’s time to use it for a big pizza and grill night.
What wood do Italians use in pizza ovens?
Italians have a ready supply of Beechwood that is also called Faggio. It’s a European variant of beech and is a favorite hardwood for pizza ovens. It’s one of the few hardwoods that are a bit hard to light and needs a kindle to get started, but once it gets going, it will provide a lively flame that is nice and hot. The advantage is that it burns for a long time and yields a temperature of at least 800+ degrees Fahrenheit.
To get an internal temperature within your oven, you can start with oak to prep your oven so it retains some heat. When it’s time to increase the heat for artisan-style pizzas, this is when you can add beech wood so it will catch fire quickly over the oak coals and increase the cooking temperature. This combination of oak and beech creates a special flavor that is an excellent profile for wood-fired pizza oven taste.
The real true test is trying different types of wood combos to see which flavor appeals to you the most. This is also part of trial and error, but will certainly improve your pizza-making skills to show off with friends when you have a big pizza party.