Spring and summer are the perfect months for Mediterranean style cooking and alfresco dining, especially when you have a pizza oven in the backyard.
Pizza ovens are becoming popular additions to Australian backyards alongside the ubiquitous barbecue.Devotees of pizza ovens love the simplicity of authentic Italian-style pizzas, which can be healthy, quick to make and delicious.
Because the high heat generated in a wood fired pizza oven, food cooks extremely quickly making them great for feeding large groups of people. And only wood fired brick ovens infuse that smokey, charcoal flavour that can’t be replicated in a normal kitchen oven.
There are a number of things to consider when choosing what sort of pizza oven is right for your home.
Firstly, what material to use in constructing the oven.
Brick ovens are fuel efficient, as they retain up to 85 per cent of the heat generated by a wood fire. Bricks are also cheap making them a popular choice .
To get an authentic rustic look, the brick can be rendered in cement with the added benefit of retaining extra heat for faster cooking.
Stone has very similar heat efficiency to brick but it can be an expensive option. If you like the look of natural stone use it on the facade as decoration rather than using it for the baking chamber.
Cob is a mixture of natural building materials made from things such as clay, sand, straw, rocks and recycled materials. It is one of the oldest building methods on earth. A cob oven is cheap to construct and fuel efficient. It cooks with all three heating methods: convection, conduction and radiant heat. Be careful to ensure the baking chamber is fired properly or it will crack. There is plenty of advice on the internet about how to construct a cob oven.
In modern homes stainless steel is a popular choice for pizza ovens. They are low maintenance and can be connected to gas as a fuel source eliminating the long heating time needed for wood fired models.
For those with a small backyard a portable pizza oven or even a bench top oven may be a better option. Portable ovens can be wood fired or gas powered. They can be moved out of the way when not in use or even taken to a park, the beach or a friend’s house.
The other main consideration is which fuel to use to fire your pizza oven.
For purists wood is the only way to go. Wood fired is the authentic way of cooking used by humans for thousands of years. It can take up to four hours to get a wood fired oven to the correct temperature for cooking so patience and planning is required if you choose wood.
Wood-fired ovens can also be fueled with either charcoal or coal for a different flavour, though these options are often considered to be less efficient, and less eco-friendly.
More contemporary in style, a gas or electric pizza oven is a cleaner option, particularly for an indoor or enclosed kitchen. Gas is also faster but they do need to be connect to a mains supply or bottled gas.