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Pizza Cooking Methods

Wood Fired Oven Pizza Cooking Methods

The Wood Fired Oven.

This is an essential factor in the creation of the true Neapolitan pizza. The design of the traditional wood fired pizza oven is more than 2,000 years old. These ovens are dome-shaped, made from brick or clay, and the roof is heated by direct contact with the flames from the burning wood below. The dome shape then causes the heat to be reflected back down to the base of the oven.

In a well-used oven (such as those in many pizzerias in Naples) the fire will never go out completely – even when there are no pizzas in the oven. The flames will die right down and justs embers will be left burning so the oven can be bought back up to temperature at a much faster rate. A pizza oven will reach about 750 degrees at which temperature a pizza will cook in about 1-1/2 minutes. If you are lucky enough to have a wood-fired oven, the woods of choice are cherry or olive wood, as they don't smoke as much as other woods. Make sure you also invest in a long pizza paddle to get your pizzas in and out of the deep oven.

Wood fired ovens are becoming more and more popular as an outside alternative to a grill. They are sued to cook a wide variety of foods, not just pizza. Whole large roasts and loaves of bread can be successfully cooked in them as well as semi-dried tomatoes, zucchinis, and other vegetables.

Have a pizza paddle? If you own a wood fired oven or a pizza stone, then a pizza paddle is definitely worth investing in. Always lightly flour it before setting the dough on it so that it can easily be transferred to the oven or onto the pizza stone.

Also important with a pizza oven is a good thermometer. This will help you judge the inside temperature of the oven. Choose one that reaches a temperature of at least 750-degrees.

The Electric Oven

For a while electric ovens were beginning to replace the traditional wood fired oven in many pizzerias around the world. It seems today that the wood-fired oven may be making a comeback in most pizzerias, but for many of us an electric oven is still the main oven of choice. With an electric oven, we have a lot more control over temperature and this makes it more suited to most domestic homes. Although the flavor and smell may not be quite as authentic as that of a wood fired oven, the pizza that you will produce can still be of top quality. It may be worth investing in a pizza stone if you are planning on doing some serious pizza making at home. Fan assisted ovens will produce a crisper, golden crust.

The Pizza Stone

A pizza stone will transform your electric of gas oven into the modern equivalent of the clay and brick ovens used by traditional pizza bakers. Cooking pizzas on such a stone gives them a crispness that cannot otherwise be achieved from an oven. Most pizza stones have been fired at temperatures in excess of 2000 degrees. This enables them to give a very dry heat that is also evenly distributed, eliminating any hot spots and giving a consistent browning to your pizza.

Pizza stones are suitable for use in both gas or electric ovens. Try serving your pizza directly on the stone and it will stay hot right through until the last slice. It is important always to heat your pizza stone first so it can absorb the heat of the oven. You will need a pizza paddle or use parchment paper to transfer your topped pizza quickly onto the stone without losing too much heat. Alternatively, you will need to work very quickly to assemble your topping. Sprinkle a little flour on the pizza stone first to keep it from sticking. Be very careful when handling the stone as it gets very hot and will remain hot for a long time.

To use parchment paper, use baking parchment t help transfer your topped pizza onto your baking sheet or pizza stone. Make sure the paper is lightly floured and just roll out your pizza dough on it as you would on any other surface. Slide the paper and dough onto the pizza stone or baking sheet and leave the paper there during cooking.

The Grill

Cooking pizza on the grill is a great way to impress your guests. It requires no special skills, just the flick of the switch or some burning coals. It is a good idea to keep a supply of frozen pizza dough balls in the freezer for those spontaneous summer evenings. Just defrost the dough, roll it out and within minutes you can have a crisp, slightly charred crust with your chosen topping. Some topping ingredients, such as bunches of cherry tomatoes or grilled eggplants, are best cooked separately. Let the cheese melt on the base and throw the extra topping on.

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