Pizza baking in a wood fired oven
This episode is a short story about my first experience of baking pizza in the most authentic way; in the out, enjoying the evening sun, and most important, using a wood fired oven. The luxury I had was to have someone who did all the preparations for me; the pizza dough, the vegetables, the meat. All I had to do was giving my creativity the free rein as I opened and topped off the pizzas, and of course bake and serve them as it ought to be…
Nevertheless , the challenge laid in maintaining the right temperature of the oven to ensure a crispy crust and bottom.
I’m happy to share some of my key learnings along this exciting evening, but honesty compels me to say that I’ve had some exercise before in the restaurant where I used to work: Eat Love, in an electric pizza oven though, which is not quite the same.
Anyway, when it comes to the right temperature, we could bake a pizza at 180°C as we could bake it at 400°C, but it’s exactly to get a nice crispy pizza that we need the temperature in the oven to be high enough and the oven floor to be very hot. If not, the dough will need more time to bake and the toppings will come out dry, you want them still a bit juicy and moist.
Take the time to start up the fire up to a temperature higher than 350°C, and spread the coals over the oven floor to give it some extra heat.
This is a good time to open the pizza and to decorate and spice it. An important advice here is to not over charge the pizza, spread just a thin layer of tomato sauce up to about two or three centimeters from the edge, you want to leave some space around the edges to allow it to rise a bit, which really gives it an artisan look. Go easy on the toppings, you don’t need a whole lot of it to make a lovely pizza, if you use pure ingredients you will get pure flavours. Don’t forget to keep an eye on the oven as you’re preparing the pizza.
When the pizza is ready to be slid in the oven, dust the peel with a bit of flour, it will help to slide off the pizza easily.
Then push the coals at one side of the oven and sweep the ashes with a brush or a wet towel, you’re ready to go!
Be careful as you slide the pizza in the oven, pull the peel bit by bit as the pizza slides off gently.
Close the oven, but not completely so you can still keep an eye on the pizza and of course admire the nice show of the whole baking process. Give the pizza a quarter turn every twenty to thirty seconds, at the right temperature it should take only about a minute and a half to two to bake.
And that’s about all it takes to make an authentic artisan pizza, so get to it and enjoy every step of the way, trust me on it, this won’t leave you cold!