Pizza baked in a traditional wood-fired oven is a little bit of heaven on earth. There is not much that compares to it, and it is probably the best tasting pizza you'll ever have. If you are a true pizza devotee, it has probably crossed your mind a time or so that you would love to have access to such an oven. Well, it is possible. With a bit of space and some know-how, you can make your own wood-burning oven.
The basic wood-burning oven is made of clay bricks or a type of heat resistant concrete mix. These items can be easily found in most building supplies retailers. Once your oven is fabricated, you cook by simply burning a fire inside the oven. The food is cooked on a flat clay-lined surface by indirect, convention heat. The heat is distributed throughout the walls of the oven and radiates and spreads throughout the interior of the oven. The temperature inside a wood-fired oven can reach 600-800 degrees Fahrenheit. As you can imagine, pizza cooks in just a couple of minutes in these temperatures.A wood-fired oven can also be used to roast meats and bake bread and cakes. These items need to be cooked at a lower temperature, so the oven is usually left to sit for a while before they are placed in the oven.
Wood-burning ovens are usually constructed in a dome shape, often with a chimney or flue. They are heavily insulated to allow the heat to remain inside the oven for long periods of time. A fire is built in the oven, and then it is swept out, leaving behind the radiant heat in the walls, ceiling, and floor of the oven. You can also build a small fire in the back of the oven and leave it burning. This technique works especially well for baking pizza.
There are several companies that specialize in custom wood-burning oven installation, or you can build one yourself and rather inexpensively too. Here is a general summary of the necessary steps:
You will build a base of rock, stone, or logs. You then set the floor of the oven by laying clay tiles or bricks on a bed of sand. The dome of the oven is then constructed. You can then finish your oven by adding details to the exterior using rock, brick, or adobe. Finally, a door is constructed, usually of wood often lined with metal to make it more heat resistant. When your oven is used, you soak the door to prevent it from burning and to add moisture for baking. This is the simplest type of oven. How elaborate you wish to make it is up to you.
Building and using a wood-fired oven is a special experience for the pizza aficionado. It is a fabulous way to entertain as well. For more information on building a wood-burning oven, check out these resources: