Think about your favourite pizzeria. You’re probably salivating at the mere mention. Now consider other, less impressive pizzas you’ve interacted with. What did(n’t) you like about them? Maybe it was the thickness / thinness of the crust. Or it might have been the generosity / sparsity of toppings. It could even be their recipe choices. Sometimes, the difference between pizzas isn’t something you can put your finger on. You just know you like one brand and shy away from another.
That distinction could be in the type of oven that was used rather than the recipes themselves. It’s seems like a minor variation, but your taste buds can always tell – even if they can’t communicate as clearly as your tongue. Pizzas baked in wood-fired oven often have a smoky flavour you don’t get from gas ovens. Electric pizza ovens – on the other hand – have a customised ‘burn pattern’ that alters the taste and texture of your pizza. An oven cooks with indirect radiant heat, dispersing it all around the oven.
Not all ovens apply this heat the same way. Electric units usually have heating elements on all sides while gas and wood-burning units release heat from the bottom, so the top and sides of the pizza are mostly exposed to heated air. That has an impact on the finished product, and it might be why you pick one pizzeria over another, even if you don’t know what tools are in use behind their closed kitchen doors. So when you’re shopping for your home pizza oven consider these factors and opt for a wood-fired model.
The cosmetic side of it plays a part as well, and function doesn’t have to be at the expense of style. Many pizza ovens today are DIY projects, but that doesn’t mean you have to bake your own bricks and build a kiln. Instead, you can order a moulded oven. They usually come in pre-cast pieces you can fuse together using recommended plaster and heat-safe food-grade adhesives. Your oven kit will contain the necessary parts and joiners, plus clear instructions and guidelines on dimensions. You can also look up videos online if you’re a visual learner.
Of course if you’d rather not do it yourself, you could ask your supplier to send over an installation team. It costs a little extra, but it ensures safe, hassle-free oven construction. They’ll build the base slab for you, an accessory you don’t get when you DIY. Of course the basic construction of outdoor pizza ovens is fairly standard. You’ll have a cooking dome, a grate to support your pizza tray, and some kind of flue or chimney system. You should also have a cowl at the entrance of your oven, and an optional oven door.
Your cowl can be painted in colours to suit your alfresco décor, so that’s part of your cosmetic decision-making. Some ovens come in specific shades while others allow you to paint it to your preference. Just ensure your paint is non-flammable and heat-resistant so it won’t chip or flake off when the oven is in use. It should also be non-toxic so it doesn’t contaminate your food. It’s helpful if it’s weatherproof, especially if it sits in unshaded areas of your alfresco. You don’t want it crumbling to dust in the rain.
Set the right tone
Painted ovens create a cosy, rustic feel, though some home owners prefer a bare grey concrete look for that Spartan effect. Others may opt for the red ochre shade of unadorned adobe. It produces a raw, outdoor campfire effect. The ochre used to obtain this colour sometimes leaches though, as you’ll know if you’ve ever accidentally brushed up against a freshly laid brick surface. You can reduce the leaching effect by baking the oven bricks themselves in a kiln before you construct your oven.