Are wood fire pizza ovens worth it? The answer to this is yes and no.
There's an undeniable quality in having a wood fire oven, that much is undisputed.
The sight, sound and warmth of a wood fire oven is an experience in and of itself. A unique cooking experience that offers mouth watering results for many years to come. Of all the wood fired ovens available in the market, how will you know which model will meet not only your requirements but also your expectations?
This post will be an ultimate guide.
A breakdown of what exactly goes into owning a wood fire oven, from start to finish and everything in between. Its our hope that in all this information you'll have what you'll need to answer your questions and find out if a pizza oven is right for you and your outdoor kitchen.
Why A Pizza Oven?
There's no denying the unique flavour of a wood fired pizza. One of the oldest practices of cooking, having lasted throughout the generations and for good reason.
Pizzas, while the most known, is not the only thing you can cook in a wood fired pizza. In fact if you're smart about your usage, your crisp and tasty pizza is just the beginning.
A good oven should be well insulated. This is the job of the refractory materials within the oven that produce and manage heat. When you have a quality pizza oven, the heat will be so efficiently insulated that if you closed the door, the next morning you'd still be able to cook breads and small pastries.
Pizza Ovens Australia is a company we work with often when clients want to include a pizza oven into their outdoor kitchen. On their website they have an example timeline of what you can do with your oven, given how well their pizza ovens are insulated.
- At 300˚C this is the time to cook your pizzas and roasts.
- When the fire cools to around 220˚C you can add breads, meats and vegetables to add to your spread.
- 100˚C is the perfect stage to cook in a crock pot full of beans and other smaller foods
- And last, at 60˚C you can dry fruits and vegetables.
Pizza Ovens Australia has an extensive FAQ that will explain a lot more in detail some of the questions you might have.
Wood fire ovens can be bought and created out of many different materials, each having their own benefits and drawbacks. Here is some of the most popular options and a few key features:
- Exceptionally fuel efficient, able to retain up to 85 % of the heat generated by the fire.
- Can take longer to fire up however the bricks are able to retain heat more efficiently, minimizing the amount of wood you will need.
- Very similar heat efficiency to a brick when used for pizza ovens.
- Depending on what type of stone you choose, this can be an expensive option.
- Stainless steel is an especially popular choice within contemporary homes.
- Will require less maintenance than with some other materials
- Is easier to connect a modern style oven to gas for use as a fuel source
- Is able to heat up quicker than the other options, usually in 20 minutes. However is less efficient with its heat retention.
What Size Should My Pizza Oven Be?
How are you planning on using it?
Do you plan on feeding a few people every now and then? With a couple of pizzas for special occasions or are you the type to entertain regularly? Happy to put in the effect for a larger gathering with many more mouths to feed than just a few?
The amount of food you can see yourself wanting to serve is the ultimate decider for how big your oven needs to be. This isn't the only factor of course. But it's a good place to start.
How much room you'll need to have available should be your next step. Maybe a good idea would be standing in the space you have planned for your outdoor kitchen, picturing how much of it will be taken up by your pizza oven and where you want everything else to be located.
This point will be easier with the help of an outdoor kitchen specialist. They'll be able to provide you with a 3D rendering of what your kitchen is going to look like, taking away the guess work for a detailed visual you can really get a much better idea from.
A good pizza oven will last a lifetime so while it's important to be critical about what you'll need now, it's helpful to have an idea in mind of what you will possibly need 5 - 10 years down the road. It's better to leave room for growth.
What Kind Of Wood Should I Use To Fire My Oven?
According the Pizza Ovens Australia, all types of wood can be used to feed the fire within your oven. However they did say they don't recommend using conifers (like pine).
Other woods will work perfectly, along with things like smaller cuts of wood, kindling, pruning, dead leaves, etc.
The first fire you'll light, when starting up your wood fire oven, will be using thin sticks and leaves, and materials similar near the mouth of the oven. Once the fire has started to grow, this is when you add the larger pieces of wood gradually to feed the flames. Adding the wood gradually is important to feed the flame without smothering the fire.
After about 10 minutes is when you can move the wood to one side of the oven and continue to add more wood in slowly. In most wood burning ovens and high domed ovens, moving the fire to one side will heat the oven quickly and efficiently, taking advantage of the heat to cook your food without risk of it burning too quickly.
The traditional and most known option. Those who love the flavours of a wood fire pizza, the crispy bases unique to this method of cooking, this is the method for you. A popular option for residential ovens because for the most part, wood burning is self sufficient and doesn't need to be connected to any amenities.
Pizza ovens can also be fueled with charcoal, for the people wanting to try another flavour. This option tends to be less efficient and less Eco-friendly.
Gas / Electric:
An increasingly popular option in more recent times, a gas or electric pizza oven is by far a much cleaner option, without sacrificing any flavour.
"Alfa" Forno 5 Minuti
We've cited Pizza Ovens Australia a few times in this post because they are a established contributor we have worked with many times within our outdoor kitchens. With over thirty years experience, they're a great resource to refer to when seeking more detailed support.
There are too many examples on Pizza Ovens Australia's website to talk about all of them. We're going to feature just one in this post, however if you are interested this link will take you to their website to view their other options at your leisure.
The "Alfa" Forno 5 Minuti is a pizza oven with a cooking floor of 60x50 cm. To fit in with your design, this oven has the options to either sit on your bench top or have a stand where it can be placed independent of the construction of your outdoor kitchen.
Taken from Pizza Ovens Australia's website, here are some of the key features you can expect with this model:
- The cooking floor of the 5 Minuti oven is made of refractory material like pizzeria ovens.
- The internal dome is made the thermal, light and robust stainless steel.
- The ignition of the oven is very quick, the cooking temperature easily exceeds 300˚C
- The 5 Minuti oven can bake over 30 pizzas per hour without missing a beat. At the end of the evening, if you let it cool for a few minutes, you can bake up to two 1.5kg loaves of bread.
- Using the wheels, it can be easily moved both indoors and outdoors without a problem.
- Pizza oven also available as a bench top model. Just remove the legs and place on your bench top.
- Able to have 8 pizzas ready in 15 minutes
- Takes 5-15 minutes to heat up to it's perfect temperature
Don't hesitate to get in contact with us if you want to discuss anything within the blog post. You can leave a comment here or on Facebook, Twitter and our Instagram.
Want to know more? Our blog is full of insider information and tips and tricks for your alfresco area. You can check out the breakdown we did on Beefeater Barbecues and see if they're a right fit for you.