We have summarized the main differences between a wood-burning outdoor oven and a kitchen oven. Now we come to the gist of the speech, seeing ten reasons to choose an outdoor wood-burning oven.
1. Fire control
To govern the fire and bend it to our will is a process that recalls the most profound and primordial human nature. The invention of cooking, which occurred in the prehistoric era, has meant an enormous evolutionary leap for our species, both because of the intellectual commitment is required, and because of the nutritional improvements that derive from the cooking of food. Mastery over a destructive natural element was one of the most critical moments for our species, which is, in fact, the only one in the animal kingdom capable of controlling fire, useful for food purposes but also to satisfy the needs of heat, lighting, and safety.
From the prehistoric experiences, we still carry in our DNA the fascination for fire, which can capture our attention by recalling the primordial instincts always present in us. Managing the light and turning it into an instrument in our service gives a fulfillment that is impossible to imitate with other cooking methods that produce heat by other means. The memory factor is also essential, which means recalling the grandmother’s cooking by refusing the comforts of technology in favor of the techniques of rural tradition. It is more demanding and challenging cooking, but in addition to the best yield on the taste of foods, it will also be a source of satisfaction for our instinct.
As we mentioned in the previous paragraph, the heat that can be reached by the wood-fired oven is much higher than in other types of domestic ovens. A wood-fired oven can even exceed 1000 degrees, although we will hardly need all this heat to prepare dinner for our family.
It is true that traditional wood-fired ovens can take 2 – 3 hours to reach a very high temperature, but it is also true that once reached it will be able to maintain it much longer than other types of ovens, thanks to the materials with which it is made, stone and refractory bricks that retain heat for a long time. To solve the problem of time and high consumption of wood needed to reach high temperatures, some companies make wood-fired ovens with a steel vault, which heats up much earlier than bricks. This type of furnace is particularly suitable for domestic use, as it reaches very high temperatures in a few tens of minutes.
Once we have raised the temperature, it is possible to cook an entire menu in a wood-fired oven without adding more fuel. For example, you can first cook the pizzas, then the roast and finally the dessert, based on the cooking temperatures of each dish. For further information, we suggest you take a look at this guide by ricettecooking.com, which describes the various cooking temperatures of different recipes.
3. Flavor of wood
This is one of the main reasons for choosing a wood-burning oven over another type. Wood gives the food inimitable fragrances from other stoves, and once you learn about the differences between the various trees, it will be an additional ingredient in our dishes. We addressed the topic in an article from our blog, talking about the choice of wood for the oven.
Each tree produces a different wood, with a distinct fragrance and a separate heat output (the amount of heat generated for a kilo of burned timber). The most used are oak and beech, thanks to a series of factors such as the high yield, the abundant spread on our territory, the aromas that give in cooking and the cost not so high. Other highly recommended types are the olive tree(extremely fragrant but costly), juniper and laurel for roasted meat or game, or citrus fruits for roasted fish.
4. Development of the cook’s skills
The management of an outdoor wood-burning oven is more demanding than the other types of stove, but for this reason, the cook will be able to develop his skills and make them feel all the dishes he prepares. The first firings are never easy, and the problems that can happen at the beginning are many: it is easy to burn the food if we have baked at too high a temperature and you can have nonhomogeneous cooking if you have fired too close to the flame without ever moving the dish.
All these are problems that frequently happen to those who are not experts, but with a little practice, they will become details that we will be able to manage in the best way to obtain dishes worthy of a professional. Mastering the wood-fired oven is the real challenge for home cooks and pizza makers who really want to reach a higher level, both in the technical skill and in the taste of the foods they prepare.
5. All foods are better
When we are familiar with wood-fired cooking, we will never be able to go back. The other types of ovens will appear to us only as bad copies of the true king of all cooking. With a little practice, we will be masters of the stove, and this will give us a series of advantages, which will be felt in the foods we cook and which will allow us to be more comfortable and peaceful. The main ones are:
- Precise temperature control at which we keep the oven at all times, even without a thermometer. Experienced pizza chefs understand at a glance if the stove is too hot or too cold, just put your hand close to the oven mouth and feel the warmth of the air.
- Ability to anticipate the oven, that is, to know the right size of the piece of wood to be added at any time, based on the amount of food we have yet to cook.
- The flavor of dishes enhanced by the aromas of the fuel, which will be felt without prevailing and covering the taste of our delicacies.
- Food gilding favored by the heat of the living flame, which keeps the hot air inside the oven continuously and supports the formation of delicious crusts on roasts and the fragrance of bread and pizza.
6. Neapolitan dish pizza
The wood-burning oven opens the door to creating a pizza dish that is faithful to the Neapolitan tradition. The art of Neapolitan pizza makers, declared a World Heritage Site, can be learned and replicated in every way, even in our own home, thanks to the outdoor domestic wood-burning oven that will allow us to have cooking performances worthy of the historic pizzerias of the Gulf of Naples. This preparation is what has made the pizza famous in the world and is the most widespread, thanks to the charm that comes from being dull and sophisticated at the same time. It is simple because it is a mediocre dish, achievable with cheap raw materials and present in all homes. It is complicated because in reality, it includes a sea of details that go then to make the difference and that must be understood and managed by the pizza maker (for example a degree more or less in the room temperature may change the final result).
The characteristics of the original recipe can be summarized in a 60-65% hydrated dough, using 00 flour, the absence of sugar, leavening at room temperature for 6 – 8 hours and the inevitable wood-fired cooking at a temperature above 400 degrees. For further information, we suggest you read the white art discipline.
7. The exploitation of outdoor spaces
The outdoor wood-fired oven is not only the king of cooking, but it is also the protagonist of your outdoor spaces, thanks to its exceptional ability to furnish the rooms. It can be installed in a real external kitchen, complete with other instruments, to have all the cooking of the meal in one place at hand. Also installed singularly, it makes its figure and attracts the attention of guests, due to the ancestral call of the fire that we saw in the first point. Speaking also of the mobile versions, these allow maximum freedom and can be used every time in a different place, according to the needs, but they will still be the focus of your evenings and will contribute to cheer up the environment.
8. Show cooking
A good wood-fired oven, together with a good cook or pizza maker, can create memorable events, in which good food and the spectacular way in which it is cooked, are perfectly combined. The domestic show cooking is winning more and more people who love to cook and want to satisfy not only the palates but also the eyes of the guests, turning a meal into an experience. For example, you can organize evenings with themed menus that include not only the pizza but many other preparations that you can make in a wood-burning oven, combining the refinement of flavors with a playful and educational aspect in illustrating the characteristics of wood-fired cooking to the guests.
9. The life span of the instrument
An excellent outdoor wood oven is a lasting investment that raises the value of the property. Not being based on any particular technology, it is not subject to obsolescence, and extraordinary maintenance interventions are reduced to a minimum (clean the chimney once a year or replace the stone or brick after several years). Compared to other types of ovens, the same reasoning that we can apply to anything is right: the more complex and detailed an instrument, the more likely it is to break something. A wood-fired oven is a structure with a simple but very stable geometry, which combined with the care taken in the construction materials make it suitable to last for many years, despite the continuous action of the atmospheric agents to which it is subjected.
The ecological aspect is increasingly important in the purchasing choices of all of us, thanks to the greater awareness of the importance of these issues. The wood-fired oven is the growth of other plants absorbs the most ecological type of furnace since the carbon dioxide produced by combustion. The only more sustainable alternative would be the electric oven, but only by having at home some instruments capable of producing clean energy, for example, a solar panel on the roof. Unfortunately, Italy is still behind the other Western countries in the field of renewable energy and those who have not invested in this sense have a high probability of having energy produced in coal-fired power plants at home.
In these points, we have seen many advantages that an outdoor wood-burning oven has compared to a standard electric or gas stove. It is possible to keep both instruments, to have both a professional cooking thanks to wood, and a home cooking but more practical and faster with the other ovens.
Buying a wood-fired oven from outside is, however, the real leap in quality that the extreme domestic pizza maker will have to do to improve his knowledge of the food and the world of a traditional bakery. Only wood firing is, in fact, able to make us take a leap in quality in our skills and abilities, which will be in constant development and will then be felt in the dishes we make.
The essential advantages of wood firing are due to the possibility of cooking naturally and genuinely, faithful to the country tradition and also with an eye towards the environment. Furthermore, we can combine the improvement of our abilities and our food with a warmer and more welcoming outdoor environment, a source of satisfaction for our guests and therefore also for the landlord.