I always try to eat delicious food. Unfortunately I don't have that much money, so I have to cook a lot of it at home. But thats OK because I love cooking and I love eating at home with my wife. This is a website with my favorite recipes and a little bit of commentary.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Now it is time to talk about the oven. Let me just start by saying that I am pining away for a wood burning pizza oven.

Notice that I said pining away, meaning I don't have one. There is an excellent discussion of how to build a correctly proportioned wood burning pizza oven in this thread at pizzamaking.com. Why do I want a wood fired pizza oven? Because the DOC specifies that the pizza must be cooked on the floor of one at 750 - 800 degrees. You can cook a pizza in about a minute at that temperature. If you can't imagine the difference between a wood fired pizza and one that is cooked at home at 550 then I won't explain it to you.

You can approximate the conditions in a wood fired oven at home. The most noticeable difference in the taste of the pizza will probably be the lack of a smoky flavor.

How I have done this in the past is to put a rack in the lowest possible position and put a baking stone on it. Mine is from The Baker's Catalogue. It is nice and thick and weighs about 13 pounds. One key difference between a wood fired oven and my oven at home is that the ceiling is much lower in a true Napoletana oven. To recreate the low ceiling I have been putting another pizza stone on a rack about 3 notches above the first. In my oven 3 notches is about 7.5 inches. My digital camera broke so I will have to wait to post pictures of this arrangement until I get my film developed.

The next important step in preparing the oven is to preheat the oven at the highest possible temp for 1 hour. My oven goes to 550. The guys over at pizzamaking.com have a trick to get the temperature of the stone higher than 550 degrees. They preheat the oven until they hear the gas shut off. Then they open the door of the oven until they hear the gas turn back on. Because the stone will cool slower than the air in the oven, the stone will stay hot, but the air will cool, allowing the burner to kick on and put more heat into the stone. I will try that trick when I am preheating my oven to make my pizza.

Summary of preparing the oven

1) Place a baking stone on the lowest rack in the oven.
2) Place another baking stone (or some unglazed quarry tiles) on a rack 3 notches above the first. Notches vary from oven to oven so shoot for 7.5 inches.
3) Turn the oven to the highest possible heat and preheat for 1 hour.
4) While the oven is preheating you will hear the gas turn off. When this happens open the door until the gas kicks back on. I plan to do this only once during the preheating and I will report my results later.