Picture this—everyone gathered around the campfire regaling in idle banter and chatter as laughter wafts into the dark night. In between the banter, there’s the occasional sideways glance towards the wood-burning oven where the sweet smell of almost-ready pizza continues to torment your guests’ taste buds with appetizing anticipation.
Nothing ignites your culinary passions better than a pizza grilled over a wood-burning oven. This type of outdoor pizza oven provides the perfect backdrop to a family get-together.
To get the most out of your outdoor pizza oven, consider the following tips:
1. Get Organized First
Before you start out your pizza party, you will need to have everything properly organized. First, get all your ingredients out and arrange them neatly in the order you will need them. Make sure the dough is ready and that everything else that’s needed to make the pizza is fully prepped.
Make sure you’ve chopped enough wood to keep your fire going for as long as you need it. You should also remove all leftover timber, ash, and debris from your oven. Also, make sure that the place you will be making your pizza from is properly aired since fire requires air to keep burning.
2. Use Good-Quality Wood
To get that smoky, sweet signature taste of pizza grilled in an outdoor wood-burning oven, it’s best to use a hardwood such as oak, maple, ash, birch, or cherry. These wood types are heavier and can burn at a higher temperature for longer. Make sure you use only wood, not charcoal, to be sure that the temperature is high enough. Charcoal ovens use chips and pellets that don’t burn for long and are therefore not ideal for making pizza.
3. Preheat Your Outdoor Oven
You should pre-heat your oven for at least 10 minutes to bring it to the desired temperature. Pre-heating also helps cook your pizza faster, which could be a big plus if you have a big crowd. For best results, ensure that the top of the dome of your pizza oven and under the hearth is completely insulated with ceramic for better retention of heat. This will bring your temperatures to a maximum of 850F but still be safe enough to touch the outer dome of your oven.
4. Make Sure You Have the Right Oven Tools
A pizza oven can get really hot. You will need the right tools to keep stoking the fire. A coal scoop and an ember rake are very important to keep the fire burning. You could get alternative tools that could work just fine. You will also need a pan hook and a pizza shovel.
5. Keep the Oven Shut Most of the Time
Keeping the wood oven shut most of the time keeps heat trapped inside. This helps maintain a constant heat temperature that allows you to cook your pizzas uniformly. Be careful not to run out of the appropriate heat temperature before the pizza cooking is over.
6. Have Enough Wood at the Ready
If you are going to have a pizza party, you will need lots of wood.You may need a couple wheelbarrow loads of wood before you begin. It’s better to have more wood than you need than run out of wood before the job is done.
7. Cook Meats, Bread, Stews and Other Foods with Left-Over Fire
Chances are that your wood pizza oven will still have enough heat after the last pizza is scooped out. This is the time to get your big portions of meat in. You could cook stews, bake bread, buns, etc. The important thing to remember is that your pizza oven can do more than just cook pizza.