Making perfect pizzas in an outdoor pizza oven can get tricky sometimes. Here are 10 tips that can be helpful in making pizzas in an outdoor oven. Having an outdoor pizza oven opens up opportunities to have some fun time with friends and family. You can have a pizza party whenever you want and not just by ordering from some random pizza place; you can put your own touch on the pizzas.
Although it will take some practice to bring this skill to perfection, it is absolutely worthwhile and rewarding to learn to cook in an outdoor pizza oven. Once you master this skill, you are sure to get some applause. That’s why we’re here today to share the top ten tips and tricks to make great pizza in your outdoor pizza oven.
10 Most Useful Tips and Techniques for the Outdoor Pizza Oven
The process of using an outdoor pizza oven and a conventional oven varies quite a bit. When you are ready to start making pizza in an outdoor pizza oven, you need to know the techniques of using it first. Therefore, we have gathered our top ten tips on perfecting pizzas in an outdoor pizza oven.
Choosing the Right Wood
When it comes to baking pizza in an outdoor pizza oven, it is important to have the right wood. The wood not only provides the right amount of heat but also adds flavor to the food.
It is essential to use air-dried and hardwoods as they heat the oven faster. Also, they do not have any moisture that can suppress the fire.
Woods like oak, maple, beech, hickory, and walnut are the best to use for an outdoor pizza oven. They increase the temperature to the perfect level in a very short time.
Avoid using woods that have sap, as they can create an unpleasant odor and gunk up the oven. Consider adding some charcoal if you want a smokier flavor to your pizzas.
Properly Starting a Fire
You will need to know how to start a fire for an outdoor pizza oven. First of all, you will need to lay down the wood in the fire compartment of the oven. It is better to pile it up a little in the middle and start the fire from there. Pine works very well for starting the fire.
You can use a gas torch to blow flames into the wood to start the fire. It can take a few minutes to ignite. Also, you can crumple up some newspapers and use them for kindling. Using woods initially lets the fire get a good start, then you can use blocks of hardwoods. Keep in mind that you should not use scrap woods, treated woods, plywood, etc., at any stage of the ignition.
Keeping the Fire Lit
Using hardwoods keeps the fire flaming well. You can add smaller pieces of wood at first to allow the fire to catch faster. Do not place a big chunk of wood on the top as that can easily smother your fire.
Opening the oven door also helps in keeping the fire lit. Oxygen feeds the fire and helps to keep things blazing. You need to get it going strongly to preheat the oven before inserting the pizza.
Usually, you will want to get a temperature of 600 to 700°F before putting in the pizza. Depending on the oven type, it can take from 30 minutes to 90 minutes to get to the perfect temperature.
Ensuring Even Heat Distribution
It takes very little time to cook pizza, so within this time, proper heat distribution is the key. Otherwise, some parts will get burnt while others might be undercooked.
For even heat distribution, you need to fire up the woods properly. As we mentioned earlier, you need to lay the woods evenly to ensure that all the parts catch fire.
When you notice that the wood pieces have burned to ashes, put more wood or charcoal before the fire diminishes. Spread the new woods evenly. Leave the door closed for 10 to 15 minutes for the fire to ignite more and increase the temperature. Conversely, if the oven gets too hot, leave the oven door open to cool it down.
Testing the Temperature
Before putting in the pizza, you should check whether the oven is at the right temperature or not. Outdoor pizza ovens can get heated very fast, which can lead to burning the pizza.
Firstly, when it seems like the oven is ready, throw a handful of flour in the oven. If it burns right away and turns black, it means the oven is too hot. If you put the pizza in at that time, there is a high possibility that it will burn.
Leave the pizza door open for about 20 minutes so the oven can cool down a little. After some time, do the flour test again until it cools down and does not burn the flour right away.
You need to constantly check the temperature of the oven and heat it up or down accordingly. Only this way, you can keep consistency in temperature in an outdoor pizza oven and make perfect pizzas.
Learning the Oven Settings
Some gas-fired ovens can have the option of temperature settings, while the traditional outdoor pizza ovens don’t. Even if there is an indicator for the heat, it is difficult to understand the heat measurement unless you have hands-on experience. So, play around with your heating settings to figure out the best setting and temperature to cook pizzas.
Gathering All Ingredients
Making different pizzas in your outdoor pizza oven can improve your cooking skills. You can try different homemade pizza recipes as well as experiment with different ingredients. There is no limit when you put your own flair on your pizzas.
Nonetheless, you need to gather all the necessary ingredients beforehand. Have your dough ready, cut or chop ingredients, and have your cheese ready and shredded, cut, or torn into pieces based on your recipes. Keep in mind that pizza needs to be prepared and cooked very quickly, so having everything handy is critical.
By the time you have everything assembled, the oven can exceed or fall short of the appropriate temperature, making your pizza burned or unevenly cooked. Getting everything ready is especially important when making multiple pizzas.
Considering Pizza Toppings
When making any pizza in conventional ovens, there are no restrictions on what toppings to use. However, for outdoor pizza ovens, the scenario is different. These ovens produce high heat, and the pizza will be cooked in minutes. Therefore, the toppings need to be taken into consideration.
Try using low moisture toppings in outdoor pizza ovens. There is not enough time for evaporation for high moisture toppings. By the time they are well-cooked, the crust will get burnt.
You can use hard cheeses like Parmesan or pecorino or use fresh, well-drained mozzarella. For tomatoes or tomato sauces, too, you should drain excess water or moisture before using them.
Rotating the Pizza
It is best to keep the pizza away from the flame as much as possible. The side that is in front of the flames will get cooked faster than the opposite side. This is why you should rotate the pizza while it is in the oven.
Keep in mind that it takes only a couple of minutes to cook a pizza in an outdoor pizza oven. So, you need to constantly keep an eye on the pizza and rotate it quickly.
However, you should not turn the pizza too early. The crust needs to be cooked and set. If it is too soft, the pizza could fall apart while you are attempting to rotate it.
Keeping the Oven Clean
You should keep your outdoor kitchen clean at all times. Once you are done making pizza, make sure you clean the pizza oven.
First of all, let the oven cool down. It is best to let it rest overnight. Then you should remove the ashes. Scoop them out and put them in a trash bag. Some ovens might have ashtrays or ash holders which makes this step even easier.
Then you should clean the inside of the oven. Take out any wood that is left over and remove any stuck food stuck in the oven. After that, you can gently scrub the surfaces to get rid of any residue. You can use a brass or copper brush for that if your oven is made of brick or stone.
If the outdoor pizza oven is made of metal, then do not use other metals to scrub off any dirt. Rather use a damp cloth to wipe away any food residue or dirt.
Making pizza in an outdoor pizza oven is an art; you master it with practice and time. During this time, you need to be patient and keep on trying. There is no doubt that the first few attempts will fail, and you will end up making burnt pizzas, but that’s how you will learn this skill.
However, with these top tips and techniques on how to make perfect pizzas in your outdoor pizza oven, you’ll soon be on your way to having frequent pizza parties at your home.