Wood fired pizzas ARE THE BEST! If you ever tasted some, you’d know what I’m on about! Pizzas cooked on a pizza stone in the convention oven can also be good. But let’s be real, if the gods are having a pizza party, it’d be “something-fired”. I mean, ask Thor, he’d know!
Some people joke that the first pizzas into a wood fired oven are sacrifices to the pizza gods. It often comes out burnt, or the topping falls into the flame. But it doesn’t need to be this way! If you have a wood fired oven and haven’t got the hang of getting those pizzas in and out beautifully without “accidents”, this article is written for you. If you know someone who has a wood fired oven, you shall impress at the next party your mate holds (but why the heck don’t you build one yourself??!).
After years of “process refinement”, this is what we think as the best way to make awesome pizzas without unnecessary sacrifices to the pizza god.
Before constructing some awesome wood fired pizzas
Once your oven has been fired for a good hour or two, push all the burning stuff to the rim of your oven floor. You want there to be a good space in the middle for pizza cooking. If you have too much embers, take some out into a metal bucket or a wheelbarrow and put water on them (good safety practice). Then get your wet oven mop to mop the oven floor. Rinse the mop, wring it, and mop again. It’s good to do it twice. No one likes bits of charcoal or ash stuck to the bottom of their pizzas. Put the chimney shutter on or do whatever you need to block your chimney if you have one.
Time to start making your first pizza
- Grab a ball of your pizzas dough and roll it out thinly. The first few pizzas need to be thin because the oven is pretty hot at this stage.
- Make sure you pizza paddle/peel is clean. Dust it with a good amount of flour. If you are new to this, it’s better to have too much than not enough.
- Move the rolled out dough onto the paddle with a little just hanging off the edge of the paddle.
- Now, the most important advice for sliding your pizzas into the oven perfectly every time:
- Give the paddle a wee thrust and see if the base can glide easily on the paddle or not. If yes, you are good to go. If not, take that base off and put more flour on the paddle before putting the base on again. This thrusting motion is how you’ll get your pizza into the oven, so doing this before the toppings go on also let you get an idea how much force you need in your thrust to get that pizza sliding.
- Smear the base with a tablespoon of your pizza sauce.
- Sprinkle a little cheese on.
- Put on your toppings. Don’t go nuts like the Epic Mealtime guys! The base is thin, so you don’t want to over pile on the toppings. To start with, I suggest you limit yourself to 3 toppings and put them on thinly. Many newbies piled on too much in one go and either find their pizza stuck to the paddle or have most of their favourite toppings ending up in the embers when they shove it into the oven… Don’t get greedy at this stage! The party is only starting!
- Finally, sprinkle a little more cheese on and press down lightly. this will prevent your toppings ending up in the embers when you thrust that pizza into the oven. To test if you’re on the safe side, give the pizza a wee thrust again and check if it can slide. If not, take some toppings off now! If the toppings are beginning to fly off the base, either take some off, or press down firmer. Don’t press too hard though, or else the base gets stuck to the paddle.
- Before putting your first pizza into the oven, grab a little flour in one hand and dust the oven floor with it. It should definitely not explode or burn right away. If it does, let your oven cool off a little more. However you should find the flour turning black within 3-4 second – this is the perfect heat for cooking your pizzas.
- Now, given that you’ve practiced your pizza thrusting motion, thrust and slide that awesome pizza into your wood fired oven!
- Watch the raw dough puff up and the cheese melts and bubbles away. You may need to rotate the pizza half way through cooking to stop the crust close to the embers from burning. (The easiest way to do it is taking it out with the paddle, rotate it with your hands, then slide it back in. If you had lots of practice, you can also do it with a smaller paddle.) When the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbling, take that pizza out.
- Devour one of the tastiest pizzas you’ll have in your life! It’s a killer! It’ll kill all of your memories of the other pizzas!! Once that first pizza disappears, hurry your guests into making more amazing pizzas to feed themselves, and of course, you, the best pizza party host ever!
If you’d like to make thicker pizzas, let the embers die down more, and when the thin pizzas begin to take longer to cook, you can start making thicker ones. They’ll need longer cooking time at lower temperature than thin pizzas. We generally prefer thin crust so we keep Big Bill pretty hot at all times by making sure there’s always a good amount of embers inside.
Party on, it’s pizza time!