Hey guys! Happy fall. This week I will be talking about how to start a wood fired oven. Incase you guys ever want to get a wood fired oven for your backyard, or get into the business to become professional pizza makers. The oven is the most important part of having a wood fired pizza business, besides the dough of course! Wood fired ovens get up to 900-1000 degrees to cook your pizza to perfection.
The first step to starting the oven is to find dry pieces of wood. I usually peel off bark from the wood, or use tiny scraps that fall off of large pieces of wood. You also need small pieces of dry wood as well to use to stack. Make sure you start the fire in the front of the oven, once its hot you will push it to the back. Theres two patterns you can use to start the oven with the wood, stacking or teepee style. Stacking is when you stack the wood evenly with two pieces of wood parallel from each other, then you add two more pieces stacked on top of the parallel wood in the opposite direction almost like a box. With teepee style you can simply stand up your wood to create a teepee tent. Either of these methods work! ALWAYS make sure you have dry wood to start a fire otherwise the moisture will not get the oven to temp.
Next, you will need cardboard, a lighter, and scrap pieces of wood. Put small pieces of cardboard in between the pieces of wood and light on fire with a lighter. Then, add tiny scrap pieces of dry flaky wood (usually falls off of the big pieces of wood) onto the cardboard. This can help ignite the fire and create strong flames. Keep adding cardboard and dry pieces of scraps from the wood until the big pieces of wood catch on fire!
Once your fire is started, it should take about 1-2 hours to heat. After about 30 minutes you can slightly push the fire towards the middle so that the whole oven heats. Keep gradually adding pieces of wood during the two hour time span. You can tell when the oven is up to the correct temperature when the roof of the dome, and the sides of the dome turn light grey. When you start the oven its usually black around the whole dome, but when it heats back up the dome turns light grey! This is something important you want to look for when estimating if the oven is hot enough to start making pizzas.
After about 1-2 hours of gradually adding wood, the dome should turn light grey, and you should be able to feel the heat from standing a foot or two away. Now you can push the fire to the back of the oven so that you have room to cook your pizzas. Take the oven paddle and push all of the ash, and wood to the very back of the oven. You can either put the wood on one side or keep it pushed back in the middle. Once you push the fire to the back, you’re going to want to clean off the bricks. Grab a couple paper towels and get it wet with water. Put the paper towel over the oven paddle so it is draped. Slide the paddle onto the bricks with the wet paper towel, this will clean off the ash and give a clean slate for the pizzas to cook on. The final step is to season the oven with salt! Grab a pinch of salt and toss it into the oven. This adds texture to the oven, making less of a chance for holes in your pizza. Congratulations, you are now certified to start cooking pizzas in the oven!