Yes. That’s the simple answer and the main reason is due to the maximum temperature a pizza oven can reach (930°F/500°C) compared to the normal oven you will have in a domestic kitchen (460°F/240°C).
Did you know that in Naples, the birthplace of pizza, there is the Neapolitan Pizza Association, which say a true Neapolitan pizza must be cooked in a wood fired oven at a minimum temperature of 905°F/485°C.
This intense heat, coupled up with the fact you are heating the pizza directly from below as well as above means you can cook a pizza in 60 seconds, get an amazing crust, and with a wood-fired oven you will also get some lovely smokiness on your pizza.
How a food tastes is the ultimate marker of how we rate it and only a wood-fired brick oven will give you that unique smokey taste that you just can’t get in your kitchen oven. As an added benefit, as your oven cools down you can cook lots of other foods in there and make even more use of this smokeyness, perhaps slow roasting meat or cooking vegetable dishes.
Quick cooking times
It is possible to cooks a pizza in 60 seconds but most of the time it will take a couple of minutes which is still pretty speedy! The quick cooking times are due to not only the fire but also the fact that the bricks in the walls and floor store lots of heat too.
A perfect crust
Due to the high heat you’ll get a lovely crispy and sometimes slightly charred crust… which is perfect! This seals in the moisture, gives you lovely air bubbles in the dough, and makes it oh so delicious. The only issue is that you may need to occasionally rotate your pizza away from the fire to stop your crust from catching and burning.
Crispy cheese and toppings
When cooking in a conventional oven I’m always checking to see if the toppings have started to crisp but that’s not an issue with a pizza oven.
The Science behind cooking at high temperatures
When you bake dough there are several things that occur:
- expansion in volume (the so-called oven spring)
- the formation of the crust
- inactivation of yeast and enzymes
- coagulation of the proteins present in the flour
- partial gelatinisation of the starch
These all happen at various temperatures and for the perfect pizza you will need the intense heat of a pizza oven which heats from the outside, rather than the lower temperatures of a domestic oven which will still cook your pizza but will take longer and lead to a tougher and denser cooked base.
|Temperature °F||Temperature °C||Process|
|86°F||30°C||Gases in the dough expand. Enzymatic production of sugars. Solubility of CO2 decreases.|
|113-122°F||45 - 50°C||Yeast Dies.|
|122-140°F||50 - 60°C||Intensive enzymatic activity. Starch starts to gelatinize.|
|140-176°F||60 - 80°C||End of the gelatinisation of starch. Enzymatic activity ceases because of the denaturation of the enzymes. Crumb starts to form. Interaction between gluten and starch.
|212°F||100°C||Internal water starts to boil, creating steam. First signs of crust formation.|
|230-248°F||110 - 120°C||Formation of pale yellow dextrins in the crust.
|266-284°F||130 - 140°C||Formation of brownish dextrins in the crust.
|284-302°F||140 - 150°C||Start of caramelisation process.|
|302-392°F||150 - 200°C||Formation of the "crustiness" of the bread and aromatic compounds.|
|+400°F||+200°C||Carbonisation of the crust also known as leopard-spotting.
These temperatures (sourced from classofoods.com) are for the actual dough and when the crust reaches 150ºC (302F) it forms that beautiful toasted brown color and at 200º (392ºF) it begins to char and get the infamous leopard spotting hallmarks of a wood-fired oven pizza.
The other benefit of the high temperature is that as the internal temperature reaches 100ºC the moisture in the dough quickly turns to steam which cooks the inside of the dough leaving it soft and slightly chewy rather than tough and dense.
A social activity
People will love coming to have pizza at yours and the theatrics that revolve around cooking with a wood-fired pizza oven. From stretching their own bases, choosing the toppings, and then learning how the oven works to finally eating a pizza they have made.
It’s such a sociable activity and if you want you can make a whole day of it, making pizzas at lunch, then using the residual heat from the oven to slow cook some meat for the evening and as an added bonus it will keep you warm too as the sun starts to go down.