Pizza is a firm favourite with most people, and the range of styles and toppings available show just how much we love to create our own pizzas. The pizza oven itself is crucial to achieve the right style of cooking, to finish with a crunchy base with gooey toppings.
Traditionally, a pizza oven would be made from bricks or stones; inexpensive items that can be found easily in nature and will retain heat well. This heat retention is crucial for any kind of oven, and brick is particularly effective at storing and slowly releasing heat. Consequently, this style of oven requires a low constant heat, and would be lit by a small fire underneath the main baking chamber. Also effective for cooking meat, roasts, casseroles, bread and cakes, this style of brick or stone oven was used in ancient Greece. Throughout time, the pizza oven has changed into many different styles, and has now become almost unrecognisable to its stone predecessor. Pizzas can be cooked to perfection in an electric deck oven, electric ovens lined with bricks, a conveyer belt oven, or even still in the coal or wood fired brick ovens.
Sustaining a temperature
Some brick pizza ovens can sustain a temperature of 485°C, in which a thin based pizza need only be cooked for 60-90 seconds. A more modern style of pizza oven can now achieve this with electric convection heat, providing a fantastic way of catering extremely quickly, in a restaurant for example.
However the most interesting way of cooking pizzas still remains in the stone made and wood burning oven. Many agree that a certain taste or flavour can only be obtained by cooking pizzas in this way, and many frozen pizzas that are available in supermarkets claim to have a ‘stone-baked’ taste. The heat retained by the stones or bricks can last for an extremely long time; dependant on the thickness of the walls and size of the oven, there can be enough residual heat to cook meats and baked goods for a whole day. Traditionally, this heat would be used to dry fruits, herbs and mushrooms, or to dry any damp firewood that was intended for use in the near future.
Wood burning ovens
In today’s environment, these wood burning ovens are often built on a smaller scale than traditional ovens, and are used for domestic purposes. They can be an impressive addition to an outdoor dinner party, and can even function as garden heaters once the temperature drops. The heat storing properties of the bricks make these ovens relatively economical, and can provide a lot of heat over a long period of time, from one fire.
However, one disadvantage of these ovens is their heating time. It can take up to two hours for domestic ovens to reach their optimum heat, and even longer for larger industrial ovens. Here, the electric pizza oven excels and is much more suitable for cooking larger quantities of food in a much shorter time. Although for the traditional feel and that authentic stone-baked taste, an old-fashioned brick pizza oven is the answer!