Pizza is one of the most popular and delicious foods in the world. But did you know that you can make your own pizza at home with a wood-fired oven? It’s not as hard as you might think, and it’s a lot of fun too. In this post, I’ll show you how to make pizza at home with a wood-fired oven, and why it’s worth trying.
Why make pizza at home with a wood-fired oven?
There are many reasons why making pizza at home with a wood-fired oven is a great idea. Here are some of them:
- You can enjoy better flavor, texture, and aroma. A wood-fired oven can reach very high temperatures, up to 500°C (930°F), which means that your pizza will cook faster and more evenly. The high heat also creates a crispy crust, a bubbly cheese, and a smoky flavor that you can’t get from a conventional oven.
- You can control the ingredients and quality. When you make your own pizza, you can choose the freshest and best ingredients for your dough, sauce, cheese, and toppings. You can also customize your pizza to your liking, whether you prefer thin or thick crust, spicy or mild sauce, or vegetarian or meaty toppings. You can also avoid any additives, preservatives, or artificial flavors that might be in store-bought or delivery pizzas.
- You can have fun and be creative. Making pizza at home with a wood-fired oven is a great way to spend time with your family or friends. You can experiment with different recipes, combinations, and techniques, and create your own signature pizzas. You can also impress your guests with your homemade pizzas and show off your skills.
How do wood-fired ovens work?
A wood-fired oven is a type of oven that uses wood as fuel to create heat. The oven consists of a dome-shaped chamber made of brick, stone, clay, or metal, with an opening for the fire and the food. The fire is built on the floor of the oven, and the heat radiates from the walls and the ceiling of the chamber. The hot air and smoke circulate inside the oven and cook the food.
There are different types of wood-fired ovens, such as traditional brick ovens, portable metal ovens, or modern electric ovens that mimic the effects of wood. Depending on the size, shape, and design of the oven, it can take from 30 minutes to several hours to heat up to the desired temperature.
How to make pizza at home with a wood-fired oven
Now that you know why and how wood-fired ovens work, let’s get to the fun part: making pizza at home with a wood-fired oven. Here are the steps you need to follow:
Step 1: Prepare the dough
The dough is the foundation of your pizza, so you want to make sure it’s good. Here are some tips on how to prepare the dough:
- Choose the right flour. The type of flour you use will affect the texture and flavor of your crust. For pizza dough, you want to use high-protein flour, such as bread flour or all-purpose flour. You can also add some semolina flour or cornmeal for extra crunchiness.
- Choose the right yeast. Yeast is what makes your dough rise and gives it airiness and flavor. For pizza dough, you want to use active dry yeast or instant yeast. Active dry yeast needs to be dissolved in warm water before adding it to the flour, while instant yeast can be mixed directly with the flour.
- Choose the right water. The water you use will affect the hydration and elasticity of your dough. For pizza dough, you want to use lukewarm water (about 40°C or 105°F), which will activate the yeast and help form gluten. You can also add some salt and oil to enhance the flavor and texture of your dough.
- Knead the dough. Kneading is what develops gluten in your dough, which gives it strength and elasticity. For pizza dough, you want to knead it for about 10 minutes by hand or 5 minutes by machine, until it’s smooth and elastic. You can use some extra flour or oil to prevent sticking.
- Proof the dough. Proofing is what allows your dough to rise and develop flavor. For pizza dough, you want to proof it for about an hour in a warm place (about 25°C or 77°F), until it doubles in size. You can cover it with a damp cloth or plastic wrap to prevent drying out.
- Shape the dough. Shaping is what gives your pizza its form and thickness. For pizza dough, you want to shape it into a ball and then stretch it into a circle or rectangle by hand or by rolling pin. You can also use your fingers to create a rim around the edge of your dough.
Step 2: Prepare the toppings
The toppings are what give your pizza its personality and taste. Here are some suggestions on how to prepare the toppings:
- Choose the right sauce. The sauce is what binds your toppings together and adds moisture and flavor to your pizza. For pizza sauce, you can use tomato sauce (either homemade or store-bought), pesto sauce (made from basil, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, and cheese), barbecue sauce (made from tomato paste, vinegar, sugar, spices, and smoke flavor), or white sauce (made from butter, flour, milk, and cheese).
- Choose the right cheese. The cheese is what melts on top of your pizza and adds creaminess and richness to your pizza. For pizza cheese, you can use mozzarella cheese (either fresh or shredded), cheddar cheese (either mild or sharp), parmesan cheese (either grated or shaved), or any other cheese that melts well.
- Choose the right toppings. The toppings are what add variety and interest to your pizza. For pizza toppings, you can use any combination of meat, vegetables, fruits, herbs, or spices that you like. Some examples of classic toppings are pepperoni, sausage, ham, bacon, chicken, mushrooms, onions, peppers, olives, pineapple, basil, oregano, or chili flakes.
Step 3: Prepare the oven
The oven is what cooks your pizza and gives it its final touch. Here are some tips on how to prepare the oven:
- Choose the right wood. The wood is what fuels your oven and adds smoke flavor to your pizza. For wood-fired oven, you want to use hardwoods such as oak, maple, birch, or hickory that burn hot and long and produce little ash and sparks. You want to avoid softwoods such as pine or cedar that burn fast and low and produce more ash and sparks.
- Choose the right fire. The fire is what heats up your oven and creates hot spots for cooking your pizza. For wood-fired oven, you want to build a fire in the center of the oven floor and let it burn for about an hour until it reaches about 500°C (930°F). You then want to move the fire to one side of the oven and spread some coals on the opposite side to create an even heat distribution. You also want to keep adding small pieces of wood to maintain the fire and temperature.
- Choose the right temperature. The temperature is what determines how fast and how well your pizza cooks. For wood-fired oven, you want to use an infrared thermometer to measure the temperature of different parts of your oven such as the floor the walls the ceiling and the air. You want to aim for about 400°C (750°F) on the floor where you place your pizza about 450°C (850°F) on the walls where you rotate your pizza and about 500°C (930°F) on the ceiling where you finish cooking your pizza. You also want to adjust the fire the coals and the vents to regulate the temperature as needed.
- Clean the oven. Cleaning is what removes any ash or debris from your oven that might affect your pizza quality. For wood-fired oven, you want to use a metal brush or scraper to sweep away any ash or coals from the floor of your oven where you place your pizza. You also want to use a damp cloth or sponge to wipe away any soot or grease from the walls or ceiling of your oven where you cook your pizza.
Step 4: Bake the pizza
The baking is what transforms your raw ingredients into a delicious pizza. Here are some instructions on how to bake the pizza:
- Transfer the pizza. Transferring is what moves your shaped dough from your work surface to your oven floor without losing its shape or toppings. For transferring, you want to use a wooden peel (a flat paddle with a long handle) or a baking sheet sprinkled with some cornmeal or semolina flour to slide under your shaped dough. You then want to gently shake off any excess flour from your peel or sheet and carefully slide your dough onto your oven floor near one side of where you spread some coals earlier. You also want to leave some space between each pizza if you bake more than one at a time.
- Rotate the pizza. Rotating is what ensures even cooking and browning of your crust and toppings by exposing different parts of your pizza to different heat sources in your oven. For rotating, you want to use a metal peel (a flat paddle with holes) or a pair of tongs to lift and turn your pizza every few seconds. You want to move your pizza from the floor to the wall and from the wall to the ceiling of your oven, depending on where the hot spots are. You also want to avoid touching the fire or the coals with your pizza or your tools.
- Monitor the pizza. Monitoring is what checks the doneness and appearance of your pizza and tells you when it’s ready to take out of the oven. For monitoring, you want to use your eyes and your nose to observe your pizza as it bakes. You want to look for a golden brown and bubbly crust, a melted and slightly charred cheese, and a cooked and caramelized toppings. You also want to smell for a smoky and savory aroma that indicates that your pizza is done. You can also use a metal peel or a pair of tongs to lift and peek under your pizza to check the bottom of your crust for any burning or sticking.
- Take out the pizza. Taking out is what removes your pizza from your oven and places it on a cutting board or a serving plate without burning yourself or dropping your pizza. For taking out, you want to use a metal peel or a pair of tongs to slide under your pizza and carefully lift it off the oven floor. You then want to transfer your pizza to a wooden cutting board or a large plate and let it rest for a few minutes before slicing and serving.
and rewarding. By following these steps, you can create your own delicious pizzas with better flavor, texture, and quality than any store-bought or delivery pizzas. You can also have fun and be creative with your dough, sauce, cheese, and toppings, and impress your family and friends with your homemade pizzas.
I hope this post has inspired you to try making your own pizza at home with a wood-fired oven. If you have any questions, feedback, or suggestions, please leave them in the comments section below. Thank you for reading and happy baking!