The basic principles behind modern pizza ovens have existed for thousands of years, and the same technology can be used today to provide a unique and rewarding cooking experience for you and your family. Pizza ovens are a significant investment of time as well as money, but are well worth it if you’re a foodie at heart. Read on for some information and advice on installing your very own outdoor kitchen.
What are pizza ovens?
Pizza ovens are sizeable ovens that specialise in cooking large quantities of pizza and other foods requiring high temperatures. Their design usually incorporates a flat stone hearth beneath a dome made of thick ceramic, bricks or clay, which is designed to maximise heat retention and create a very high-temperature cooking environment. They are usually wood-fired (though gas-fired models and combinations of the two are also available) and the wood fire is lit on the hearth itself, with the food placed around it. Heavy insulation is essential to the oven’s design, as it allows the intense heat to be retained wholly inside the oven while the exterior remains cool to the touch. Depending on their size, pizza ovens will usually take from 30 minutes to two hours to reach optimum temperature. Ovens vary in size, with an internal diameter of roughly 60 centimetres for small domestic models up to nearly two metres for large commercial ones, with a one-metre diameter striking the best balance between capacity and expense.
What different types of pizza ovens are available?
Many different designs of pizza oven exist, including brick, concrete and ceramic constructions in rectangular or circular designs. Due to their size and cost, some manufacturers offer to custom-make ovens to fit in certain spaces. They can also come with such features as food-viewing windows, backup gas reserves and more.
What can you use a pizza oven for?
Pizza ovens can cook far more than just pizzas – they can be used for almost any other cooking process due to their size and range of heat. The temperature ranges from moderate near the oven door to intensely hot in the centre, enabling many processes such as roasting, grilling and frying – their range is really only limited by your imagination.
What are the costs involved in getting a pizza oven?
The main cost associated with pizza ovens is the initial purchase and installation. Due to significant variations in size, features and quality, their pricing also varies greatly, though a basic domestic oven usually costs at least $1,000 to buy and install. The running costs, on the other hand, are quite modest: thanks to the high amount of heat they retain, pizza ovens require fairly small amounts of fuel for their size. Furthermore, they contain no electrical or moving parts to maintain or replace, so a well-built oven should last you for decades, even with regular use.
How can you install your own pizza oven?
Most pizza oven manufacturers offer both ready-built ovens and modular ones that you can build yourself – the latter are usually cheaper. Alternatively, you can simply do some research on the construction method and build your very own oven from scratch. There are several things you’ll need to consider:
- Firstly, you’ll need to decide where and how to install your oven. You’ll probably need at least a 1.5m x 1.5m space allocated for your oven, and you’ll need to make sure the ground or floor is flat, well insulated and strong enough to hold a heavy oven; if you’re building outdoors, a concrete or stone slab is usually a must.
- You’ll need to know how to build yourself an oven. There are multiple steps to this and most manufacturers selling DIY ovens have instructions online or in stores. If you’re building from scratch, a good resource for planning the design and materials of your oven can be found here.
- Finally, you’ll need some recipe ideas for cooking in your oven – pizza and other dishes! A good resource for pizza-making can be found here and Jamie Oliver’s website has some fantastic food ideas.