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  • Writer's pictureBenjamin Stockard

5 Types of Pizza Oven Fires

Updated: Jun 11, 2019

Stop using your pizza oven for just pizzas! Learn the 5 different types of pizza oven fires to create the ultimate cooking environment for you next wood-fired meal.

Despite being a called a Pizza Oven, the wood-fired oven is capable of cooking so much more than just great pizza. When used to its full potential, the pizza oven is capable of smoking mouth-watering briskets, bringing out subtle flavors in veggies, and grilling succulent steaks. However, to successfully do so, you need to master the 5 types of Pizza Oven fires; the Pizza Oven, Roasting Oven, Baking Oven, Bread Oven, and Grilling Oven.

1. Pizza Oven (650-750˚F)

The Pizza Oven relies on a live flame in conjunction with radiant heat to cook food at high temperatures. Begin by lighting a fire in the middle of the oven. Once the fire is going, move the fire to the left side of oven (right side if you are left handed). The coal bed should extend out about 10 inches from the wall, and the flames should be rolling up the oven wall towards the midpoint of the domed ceiling. The oven door should remain open to provide enough oxygen to keep the fire burning hot. Expect to add an additional log or two every 20 minutes to keep the flame going. This type of fire is most commonly used for cooking Neapolitan style pizzas as fast as 90 seconds. However, don’t limit yourself to just making pizzas, the Pizza Oven environment is great for many different types of cuisines.

2. Roasting Oven (550˚F)

The Roasting Oven relies more on radiant heat than a live flame. Begin by making a Pizza Oven fire. Then, let the temperature drop by letting the fire burn down. A Roasting Oven will still have a live flame, but the flames will be much smaller, extending half way up the oven’s side wall. To maintain a Roasting Oven, you will have to add smaller logs throughout the burn. Use your oven door to control the temperature. If the fire begins to get too hot, close the door partially to deprive the fire of oxygen. Be careful not to close the door too much or your fire will begin to smoke or even go out completely. A Roasting Oven is one of the more versatile fires. It is perfect for browning or searing meats and vegetables, or for adding the quintessential “pizza oven char”. To keep foods from burning, cover pans with foil or an oven safe lid.

3. Baking Oven (200-450˚F)

The Baking Oven relies mostly on conductive heat from the floor and radiant heat from the dome. It is a great oven environment for cooking deserts, pastas, BBQ, and more delicate foods. This is where low and slow comes in to play. Begin by making a Pizza Oven fire and let it burn down to hot coals without any flames. If the temperature of your oven begins to drop too fast, close the oven door slightly. Be careful not to close your oven door too much or you will snuff out the fire. Although no actual flame should be present, the coals still need oxygen to produce heat. The hotter your initial fire, the hotter and longer your oven will hold a Baking Oven environment. In the event that a live flame appears, burry the burning log in the coal bed.

4. Bread Oven (450-550˚F)

The Bread Oven relies solely on the conductive heat from the floor and radiant heat from the dome. There is no fire or even a coal bed in the oven. Begin by lighting a fire and let it burn down to hot coals. The hotter your initial fire, the longer your oven will be able to maintain a Bread Oven environment. Once the fire has burned down, spread the coals evenly across the oven floor. Close the door and let the fire burn out. At this point, the oven will regulate to an even temperature. This process can take between 10 to 20 minutes depending on the oven.

Once the oven has regulated, open the door and remove the coals with an ash scrapper. Place the coals carefully into a metal container with a lid. When you expose the coals to oxygen, they may flare up. Personally, I like to scrape the coals into a Webber Charcoal Grill. The lid allows you to snuff out the fire and you can use the bigger coals to make your own charcoal.

After the coals have been carefully removed, use a floor brush to sweep the ashes out of the oven. To get the floor squeaky clean, you can wrap a damp cloth around the brush to mop up any ash that you may have missed while sweeping. Close the door and let the oven regulate again. Removing the coals and cleaning the oven will cause the temperature to cool by about 50˚F.

Finally, open the door and place your bread in the oven. You can place the bread directly on the oven floor or bake it in a pan. To add moisture to the oven, place a baking pan full of water in the oven next to your bread. Close the door and bake until done. Feel free to open the door to check on or rotate your bread. Just be sure to close the door after doing so.

5. Grilling Oven

A Grilling Oven is unique in that it doesn’t require the oven to be preheated. Begin by lighting a fire and letting it burn down to coals. Use an ash scrapper or metal rake to arrange the coals into a tightly formed coal bed in the front of the oven under the exhaust flue. Any burning logs can be pushed to the back of the oven. Once the coals have been arranged, place a Tuscan Grill over the coal bed and let it get hot. Place your food on the grill and put out any flare ups with a rake or metal peel.

The beauty of the Tuscan Grill is that you can easily move it around. Whether you need to flip your food or regulate the temperature, use a metal rake or hook to move the grill away or towards the coal bed.

The Grilling Oven truly shows off the versatility of the pizza oven. After grilling, you can push the coals back and add new logs and be back to a Pizza Oven environment within 10 minutes.

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