Pizza Oven

I made my very first wood-fired pizza!

Pizza Baking
Bak­ing a piz­za in less than 90 seconds

I’ve always been a fan of piz­za and I’ve made piz­za at home since I was a teenage (okay, Chef Boyardee kits count, right?). I’ve made my own dough and even tried my hand at my own sauce before. Angela and I upgrad­ed to a piz­za stone years ago and they do help a lot. Dur­ing the pan­dem­ic, we start­ed mak­ing even more piz­za at home and my daugh­ter real­ly upped her bak­ing in general.

So one of the things we all agreed would be real­ly awe­some would be to have our very own piz­za oven. After see­ing just how involved a “real” piz­za oven would be, we fig­ured we could scale that back to a “portable” piz­za oven. They’re on par with the expense and use of a meat smok­er and gen­er­al­ly are “coun­ter­top” sized; though of course you use them out­side as they do pro­duce smoke.

Getting Hotter
Hot as hell on the inside, cool outside

The par­tic­u­lar mod­el we got is an Ooni Koda 16. It’s portable in the sense that it’s not bolt­ed down; but at about 75 pounds (34 kg), we’re not like­ly to take it on many camp­ing trips or any­thing. It’s a mul­ti-fuel in that it uses a mix of char­coal and hard­wood. It’s pret­ty much the same prin­ci­pal as a Kama­do-type grill, in that it uses nat­ur­al draft­ing to pull in fresh air over coals to get them real­ly hot. Onto which you then add some hard­wood to make flames and get the oven even hot­ter. Like 700°F (340°C) and more hot. Fur­ther, like a Kama­do, floor of the oven is ceram­ic tile which retains that heat. This cooks the dough while the flame lick­ing over the inside roof of the oven cooks the top­pings. And it does this in about 90 sec­onds (this is Neapoli­tan style; if you have “thick­er” crust you reduce the temp some and cook for longer).

First Pizza Bake
My very first wood-fired pizza

I’ve had piz­za in New York, Chica­go, and yes, even Naples, Italy. Was my very first piz­za the best I’ve ever had? No, but it was up there for me. And I got to make it! In my back­yard! The pic­tures here just don’t do the chewy, warm crust jus­tice. Yeah, I was sec­onds away from burn­ing it but it was still so good. I start­ed with just a sim­ple cheese piz­za, and then made a pep­per­oni piz­za and anoth­er white piz­za (well, pret­ty much cheese-bread as I did­n’t use enough olive oil).

Oh, yeah: recipes: I know that there are purists who spend a lot more time on ingre­di­ents than I ever will, but I just use a super-sim­ple dough recipe, my favorite brand of sauce, some store-brand shred­ded moz­zarel­la, and Ital­ian sea­son­ing. Chefs and cooks can hate on that all they want, but I can make this any time I want now. ;)

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