Learning about Your Wood Fired Oven: Terms Part Two

Last blog post we discussed some of the terms associated with some wood fired ovens. This is a continuation of terms that will help you to appreciate your oven even more.

Insulation – The layers that enclose a wood fired oven and stops heat from escaping. Without proper insulation, heat will conduct through the Oven Hearth and Oven Enclosure, making the outside of the oven hot to touch. A poorly insulated oven will not retain heat well and will make baking and cooking inadequate.

Oven Firing – The fire inside the oven chamber that heats the refractory material that comprises the oven. Make sure you know how long it takes to fire your oven for the type of cooking you plan for so that you can fire your oven at the right time.

Pizza Peel – The tool you use to set and turn pizza, pots and pans to put in and out of your wood burning oven. They can be either wood or steel, short- handled or long-handled. Take a look at some of the other accessories for pizza ovens.

Refractory Materials – This is material that is design to withstand heat and high temperatures. Unlike a typical fireplace, where all of the heat goes up the chimney, a refractory fireplace uses refractory material to absorb and reflect heat into the space in front of it.

Retained Heat Cooking – This is a style of cooking where you rake the fire and coals out of the wood burning oven and cook using the retained heat. You can cook a wide range of foods this way, taking advantage of the various levels of heat the oven goes through as it cools. For example, you can cook bread at round 500F, roasts, cakes and other Dolce around 400F, then beans and soups overnight as the oven temperature falls.

Learning about Your Wood Fired Oven: Terms Part One

A great way to get started with a wood burning pizza oven is to learn the common terms associated with this marvelous piece of equipment. If you are not familiar with details of how the oven works, you can learn a lot of things by looking through this list of common words used to associate with different aspects of a wood fired oven.

Arch – The Forno Rustico oven has a number of pieces that can be constructed using arches, including the dome itself, which is a circular, arched vault. Arches can also make up the opening into the oven chamber, which can use either a flat or arched top, and the opening into the vent landing.

Carbon Burn-Off – When the inside of the dome of a wood burning oven reaches about 650 degrees, the black soot, or carbon, begins to burn off, giving the impression that the oven dome is turning white. You can see the detail of the dome interior, and know that your oven is nearly ready for cooking pizza.

Chimney – Unlike a normal fireplace, where the chimney is in the back, a wood burning oven has the chimney outside of the fire chamber. The oven draws in cold air through the opening for the fire, and exhausts hot air back out through the top half of the oven door. The exhausted air is collected by a Vent, which is in turn connected to a chimney. Outdoor ovens use a short chimney run to safely exhaust smoke, while indoor ovens can be connected to an appropriate chimney system to exhaust smoke outside of the house.

Curing – After your oven has been installed, you need to bring it up to heat slowly to allow the oven itself, and the installation materials to dry. Failure to do this could result in damage to your oven. You should allow your oven to sit for seven days after installation and then begin a series of seven small, then growing fires.

Wood Fired Ovens for the Holidays

The holidays are a great time to get together with family and enjoy a great home cooked feast that reminds everybody how good food can actually be. Wood fired ovens make cooking for the holidays a delectable experience that simply can’t be duplicated from any other piece of equipment. The key to cooking with wood burning ovens comes from the time honored tradition of gaining heat through natural wood burning techniques that maximize flavor above all else.
Nearly any holiday dish you can think of can be cooked better with a wood fired oven. Turkeys can be cooked at an initial high temperature to generate a flavor sear and then cooked at a lower burn in order to create a succulent and tender bird. The natural flavors from the wood will infuse natural flavors to the meat that will be unforgettable. Desserts can develop a delicious caramelized crust that will have your guests eating far after they’ve become stuffed with all the other great food.
Wood fired ovens are also a great showpiece to present to family and friends during the holidays. The spectacle of a wood burning oven will have people gathered around and wondering at the marvel of traditional wood fired cooking. Fires are a natural, primordial curiosity for mankind, and ovens that use traditional fire to cook will have people realizing the true roots of human cooking and fully realizing the amazing flavors that come with it.

Cooking Techniques with Wood Fired Ovens

Wood fired ovens are capable of huge variety of cooking styles. With most types of cooking, the oven should be fully brought up to heat, and then prepared for differing temperatures by moving the fire and coals until the desired level of heat is reached. The amount of wood you need will depend upon how long you will be cooking, so make sure to plan ahead and know what you will be using the oven for before starting it up. The following are three different techniques for cooking with your wood fired oven.
Fire in the Oven Cooking – This type of cooking is done at temperatures about 650 degrees and is used for baking pizza, pizza like flat-breads and some appetizers, all of which only take a few minutes at most to cook. This type of cooking requires a larger fire and should be maintained with more wood as long as you need those temperatures for cooking.
Roasting – cooking at 450 to 600 degree is considered roasting. This technique is best for searing meats, browning vegetables and placing the finishing sear on casseroles and other dishes. Roasted can be using in conjunction with baking to create a sear on your dish that helps seal in lots of flavor.
Baking – baking is done at temperatures lower than 500 degrees. Baking is great for bread, desserts, smaller roast meats, beans and legumes and a wide variety of pasta dishes. Baking is what we usually think about when talking about traditional ovens. Wood burning ovens can do this and so much more.
Grilling – a wood fired oven can make a great grill. By raking a layer of hot coals across the cooking floor at the front of your oven, and sliding a free standing cast iron grill into the oven, you can enjoy grilling that sets seared grill marks, and seals in moisture for food that is crisp and not dried out.