Not just for pizzas
When people think of a woodfired oven, they think pizzas. Yes, indeed it is trendy to make the best pizzas in here, but there are a lot more uses for this. Roasting meat, fish, vegetables and baking bread are just a few to mention.
I fell in love with the woodfired oven in Cape Town. Many people have one in their garden, so I decided to have one too. I loved it! Part of our outside kitchen was perfect for entertaining. I would put a roast in the back of the oven and whilst this was slowly cooking away, I would make pizzas and starters at the front end of the pizza oven.
Better than the oven?
The big question; is it better than an oven. Of course, you don’t need a woodfired oven to bake a pizza, but the taste is so much nicer. The wood gives that slightly smoky flavour and the heat of the wood ( 350 C) cooks the pizza in less than 3 minutes.
Gas versus woodfired or build your own?
So you have decided to buy a pizza oven, but which one to buy? There are a lot of options these days. Although the Big Green Egg claims you can make pizzas on the egg, I’m afraid I have to disagree. As soon as you open the BGE, all the heat goes, and you cannot control the process as the BGE is closed and there is no window in the top. Handy gas-fired ones are now the rage. They are small and compact, but they don’t give you the tasty smoky wood flavour. They do have a baking stone, so they are referred to as ‘stonebaked’ oven. A regular oven with a baking stone would do the same if you can get it over 300 C. Not many do these days anymore.
Build your own? That is a tricky business as the dome needs to have a specific shape; otherwise, it doesn’t heat up. One of my friends had to demolish his pizza oven and then hired somebody to build one.
My Mediterranean woodfired oven
Instead of having a woodfired oven build from scratch, you can buy some really lovely woodfired pizza ovens. I bought my Mediterranean woodfired oven 3 years ago, and it is an excellent piece of kit. Not as big as the one I used to have in Cape Town, but this will do the job too. You can cook 2 small pizzas at the same time or one bigger one. I only cook one at the time, so I can control the process much better. Check out their website and the video in which Jamie Oliver features too.
Let’s talk about the dough
In my opinion, there is no such thing as a quick dough! I know there are a lot of recipes around, which claim you can make a delicious pizza with dough made 30 minutes beforehand. Have you ever used a dough when the yeast hasn’t had the chance to proof the dough? Take it from me, I have tried a lot of different recipes, and some are from well-known chefs. It is a nightmare! The dough is very lively so very difficult to handle and the taste? Bland and yeast is the main flavour.
Fair enough. There are 2 types of pizzas. The thin and flat one from Rome and the thicker one from Naples. The pizza from Rome only needs an hour proving, but when I make it on the odd occasion, I still let it proof for 24 hours as it improves the flavour. My favourite pizza is Naples style pizza, and I let it proof for 3 days. Hassle-free, not a lot of kneading involved if you use a kitchen machine. I stick it in a flat container in the fridge and 2 hours beforehand I take it out so it can warm up. The last stage is forming the dough balls 30 minutes before serving. Check out my pizza recipe.
Let’s talk pizza – my article in Eastlife magazine
P.S. Views are my own and this review is not sponsored