The characteristics of quality wood-fired pizza ovens:
After having briefly seen the reasons that make the wood-fired oven the most suitable for baking pizza , let’s go on to analyze the factors that must be considered when choosing a new wood-fired pizza oven .
1. Shape and dimensions
The form of the wood-burning oven structure allows the diffusion of the heat that comes from the fire . The shape of the dome, a flattened half sphere, allows the creation of air currentsstarting from the flame and spreading throughout the oven; going up the curved wall up to the center of the sky, the warm air converges from all directions towards the center of the dome , thus creating a push from the top towards the ground of the oven and then again upwards, in a circular motion very hot air that transmits heat by radiation , giving food aromas to the wood.
In addition to the flame currents, the heat is generated above all by the embers that form after a while, when we have consumed enough wood and the temperature will start to rise. The embers in fact allow the oven to increase and maintain the cold, because they release a lot of heat which is collected and diffused by the refractory material of the soil and the oven vault, transmitting heat by conduction .
As far as size is concerned, we can say that wood-fired ovens are usually rather large , around one and a half meters in internal diameter. Depending on your needs, however, you can also choose much smaller models (from two pizzas) or much larger ones (to cook more than ten pizzas at the same time).
The size of the oven you need varies according to the number of pizzas you want to bake and it makes no sense to buy a furnace that is too large for a negligible number of pizzas. A larger size of the stove inevitably corresponds to an increase in wood consumption and price, due to the higher amount of materials needed for construction but also due to more significant structural complications; moreover, a huge and very heavy oven will need stable flooring (it will be necessary to make a cement casting at the base, so as not to sink it into the ground over the years).
A good wood-fired oven therefore has the classic spherical shape we saw at the beginning of the paragraph, even if the innovation of modern wood-fired furnaces can also have an impact on its form.
We mentioned the content of the bricks, stone slabs and the dome, defined refractory for its characteristic, essential for the functioning of the oven, to accumulate and retain the heat it receives, releasing it to food in a uniform manner in the various areas and for the cooking time.
The use of suitable materials is essential to obtain a hot wood-fired oven because it is necessary to reach a high temperature to bake the pizza and it is essential that the furnace can do it quickly without consuming too much wood. Beware therefore of ovens that are too cheap for the quality they declare, because the use of inferior materials in the long run can compromise the use of the oven , due to the faster degradation compared to an oven created with better materials.
3. Weight and stability
The total weight of the instrument depends on the size of the stove and the materials used to make it , which must be considered in relation to the support base on which the furnace will be positioned.
As for fixed ovens, the more substantial size is usually better for the same size , because once assembled it will no longer have to be moved and therefore we can use more robust and consistent bricks and stones, capable of increasing the heat capacity of the individual components.consequently, it is necessary to set up a reliable and robust structure, as heavy as the oven that it will have to support for a long time.
In contrast, mobile wood-fired ovens need to be more manageable and lighter , to avoid back pain every time we move them. In addition to this, the quality of the support structure that supports the oven is essential, as it must be sturdy but light and able to last as long as the oven . A fabric made with savings could wear out quickly, due to rust, some leaking welding or a screw that loosens, causing stability problems during work and risking collapse, damaging even the oven that was perhaps still in good condition .
4. Practicality of the mouth and lid
The size and shape of the oven’s mouth together with the practicality of the cover are essential for the convenience of work . The mouth must be large enough to comfortably handle the fire and the pizzas, but not too much compared to the size of the oven, to avoid a considerable loss of heat.
The lid must have a comfortable grip and must be stable not only when it is closed, but also when it is left resting to let alone a small amount of air pass, ie when the temperature must be raised with the fire already beautiful alive and yes they start putting more significant pieces of wood, or when a constant temperature must be maintained, for example for baking bread.
5. Speed of temperature increase
The structural characteristics of the furnace seen so far determine the thermal capacity of an instrument in general . The ability to enhance the fire is , therefore, the other variable that we must consider to evaluate the quality of an oven when we turn it on.
The speed of temperature increase depends on many factors in addition to those of the oven structure, starting with the choice of the most suitable type of wood for the pizza and above all our ability to “handle” the fire. A good wood-fired oven is able to quickly accumulate the heat given off by the fire , even if it has considerable dimensions. The larger ovens need a lot of time and large quantities of wood to reach high and stable temperatures, also of three or four hours. On the other hand, there are small and innovative ovens, which reach high temperatures in half the time , reducing wood consumption.
6. Reduced consumption
The consumption of the oven depends on many factors, which we have already had occasion to mention. Each plant produces wood with a different heat yield , as well as aromatic and price. Furthermore we have seen that it depends on the ability to manage the fire and on the speed of temperature increase inside the oven.
Wood consumption is really noticeable during use, based on the relationship between how much food we cook and how much wood must be added to maintain the temperature we want. This parameter must be assessed on the basis of the criteria that guide the choice of buying a new wood-fired oven, ie the time required for the temperature to rise, the size of the instrument and the price.