Wood fired cooking has recently gained popularity around the world. With many famous chefs praising it and using this technique in cooking contests, it’s no wonder so many restaurants and eateries have adopted it as well. With many people claiming this is the best way to cook food due to its roots in early human civilization, it has piqued the curiosity of many. Add a beloved food in the mix of this debate, in this case pizza, and you get some really enthusiastic foodies and chefs arguing in its favor. In this post we will be looking at what wood fired pizza, and wood fired cooking in general, entails.
What Is Wood Fired Cooking
Wood fired cooking is the practice of cooking food in an oven that uses wood as fuel instead of gas or electricity. The oven is initially heated to a high temperature via combustion and then allowed to cool over time, cooking the wood inside. This means that unlike gas and electric ovens, the temperature during cooking is not kept at a constant value. Wood fired cooking is almost as old as cooking itself, as our ancestors used to cook their food over burning logs, and this fact is one of the reasons people are so outspoken about its benefits.
Types Of Wood Ovens
Wood fired ovens, or simply wood ovens, have chambers consisting of a base, a dome, and an opening. There are two types of wood fired ovens that are used today. One of them is the black oven, and the other is the white oven. The difference between the two is that in black wood fired ovens, the wood is burned in the same chamber as the food to heat it up. Most of the time, the food is cooked while the wood is still aflame. In other cases, the fire and coals are put out and the food is cooked using the lingering heat in the chamber. In white wood fired ovens however, the heat needed to cook the food is transferred to the chamber from an external combustion source. This way, no ash blackens the chamber of the oven and it remains white and clean.
Normally, wood fired ovens are made of masonry because of its tendency to soak up heat and retain it, but ovens made of adobe, cast iron, and cob are also found. There are also some ovens, such as those from the Alfa Forni line of Fornieri – Wood Fired Ovens, that are made of high-octane stainless steel and refractory bricks. These all-Italian materials allow the oven to reach temperatures of up to 500 Celsius. In comparison, regular pizza ovens can only go as high as 250 to 260 Celsius.
Why Do People Choose Wood Fired Food
With the popularity of wood fired cooking on the rise, one might wonder if it’s just a passing fad or if there is some actual benefit to it. Foodies and chefs who have switched to wood fired cooking claim that the food tastes much better than when cooked in conventional gas or electric ovens. They say that the food is able to soak up the scent of the burning wood and that gives it an authentic taste. Wood fired cooking supporters and followers also claim that this method of cooking prepares the food much better, with the skins of meat and the vegetables being cooked tasting exquisitely delectable.
As an added bonus, a wood fired oven makes for a great centerpiece in any restaurant or outdoor event. This type of oven is perfectly cut out for presentation as much as it is for function.
When people can closely watch the action while waiting for their food to be ready, it becomes a more enjoyable and memorable dining experience. Wood fired ovens are becoming a must-have not only for restaurateurs but also for people who love holding backyard cookouts or outdoor parties. Having one certainly hikes up the aesthetic and market value of any home.
Advantages Of Wood Fired Pizza
Choosing to eat wood fired pizza can come with some benefits over pizza cooked in traditional gas or electric ovens. For starters, thanks to the immense heat that a wood fired oven encapsulates, pizzas cook much faster in wood fired ovens. Some places can cook a pizza in as little as three minutes. Another big plus point is that when pizza is cooked in a wood fired oven, its crust becomes scrumptiously crusty. Not only does this mean a solid base that doesn’t topple over, but the cheese on the pizza gets slightly crispy as well.
Furthermore, because of the intense heat, moisture is sealed off and leaves the pizza far less greasy than it would normally be in other ovens. And, thanks to the extremely quick cooking times, the toppings you’ve chosen for your pizza also retain all of their taste instead of losing some of it during the cooking process. Also, wood fired pizza is healthier as well, as being cooked quickly in extreme temperatures allows the toppings to retain their nutrients. On top of all that is the taste wood fired cooking itself lends to the food. Pizzas cooked in wood fired ovens have a slightly smoky taste due to the burning wood. This smoky ashy taste gives the pizza a unique and authentic tasting texture and flavor. All the toppings, the cheese, and the crust get a wonderfully raw taste free of grease.
Types Of Wood Fired Pizza
With a huge variety of wood fired pizza ovens out there, not to mention all the different kinds of wood, you end up with a ton of different types of wood fired pizzas. Of course, it mostly depends on what restaurant or pizza place you visit. Each place would have its own unique way of cooking its pizza, and you will have to experiment a little bit before you find the perfect place for you. Here are a few things to look out for when ordering a wood fired pizza.
Material of Oven: As we mentioned above, wood fired ovens can come in different builds. Though the most popular material still remains to be masonry, there are others as well. Which material’s pizza you end up liking is up to your personal preference.
Type of Dough: Dough is very important to look out for when making a pizza in a wood fired pizza oven. Different dough reacts differently to being cooked over or next to fire. One of the most popular doughs for wood fired ovens is the flatbed dough. Again, it will require some experimentation to figure out which dough you find tastes the best after having been wood fired.
Type of Wood: Of course, with so many different wood types being available, this too affects how your pizza tastes. Some places like to work with long burning wood, while others go for a smokier type. Yet others mix and match up the wood and cook their pizzas in a blend of different smoke and ash, leading to an exotic tasting pizza. Here, too, you will have to decide for yourself which type of wood you prefer your pizza to be cooked over.
And that concludes our discussion on wood fired cooking and wood fired pizza specifically. Given that it is such an ancient way of cooking, it only seems right that we find it to be so good. If you’re interested in reading a bit more about pizza, why not read about the world famous and admired Chicago deep dish pizza. Strictly sticking to the glamour of New York? Here’s our piece on New York pizza.