Buyers Guide: Wood-Fired Pizza Ovens

The oven – the beating heart of any pizza restaurant! There are many different types, styles, shapes and sizes of pizza ovens on the market but how do you ensure you choose the right one for your restaurant? 

Before we look at which is the most suitable oven let’s understand how an oven works. The oven is designed to create heat in order to bake. Pizza and bakery products are baked by 3 different elements:

–    Conduction:  is the heat which comes from the bottom of the oven.

  • –    Convection: is the air inside the cooking chamber. 

–    Radiation:  is the heat coming from the flame or the walls of the oven.

 

Once the pizza or the bread is placed in the oven, the heat spreads from the oven environment inside through the surface and onto the food being cooked. This is a heat transmission called CONVECTION.

In addition, the heat comes from the flame or refractory mass towards the inside of the food This is called transmission by RADIATION.

Finally, from the oven floor, the heat propagates towards the base of the food. This is a heat transfer process called CONDUCTION. 

In the product, a temperate content is created with a maximum of 100°C. In this phase there is a movement of molecules of water from inside to out, which goes to the surface and evaporates. 

 

At the end of the baking process the water molecules that evaporate decrease causing the pizza to have a rapid increase in temperature in particular on the surface (now free of water molecules which have evaporated). This causes the formation of the crust. The crust becomes thicker as this cooking phase continues. If the water content disappears completely the pizza colours and eventually burns. 

In short: during the baking process we extract water from the pizza. The product temperature is always lower than 100°C, but this depends on the size of the dough of the pizza and therefore on the weight and thickness (e.g. Neapolitan style or Focaccia). If it only reaches 70-75°C inside the product, with their characteristics that we know.

WOOD FIRED PIZZA OVENS

The wood oven is the most traditional associated with pizza. The most modern version now has a rotating cooking deck which leads to more consistency, increase of productivity and is easier for the pizza chef to use.

Characterized by the construction of refractory stone, the wood fired oven allows us to reach higher temperatures with quicker cooking times.

Cooking with wood requires a high level of skill, experience and knowledge. The cooking temperatures inside the oven are not even throughout the chamber and the user must manage this as well as control the ovens temperature and flame height. This is especially true with the static oven where they will also have to ensure the constant movement of the pizzas in the oven. Ovens with a rotating cooking deck are a little easier as no movement of the pizza inside the oven will be required – the temperature inside the oven is more consistent and the temperature range is usually between 300°c to 500°c, dependant on the type of pizza being cooked.

The disadvantages for this type of oven is the variables that the pizza chef must control to bake the pizza, meaning the skill levels required are high.

The advantage is that the oven is pure theatre and can be placed at the front of the restaurant. Many styles and sizes are available and for the those wishing to operate an authentic pizzeria there is no better oven that provides that WOW factor.

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