Anyone who likes pizza can tell the difference between one cooked in an electric or gas oven and one that has been bubbling away in a wood fired pizza oven. The smoky flavours and crispy crust of a wood fired pizza are hard to beat.
Investing in a wood fired pizza oven can really set your business apart and prove a stunning centrepiece to your restaurant or cafe. In fact, a wood fired oven may be a piece of catering equipment you’ll want to think about in the initial fit-out and design of your space.
You’ll be pleased to hear that wood fired ovens don’t restrict you to cooking just pizzas. Many types of food benefit from cooking next to an open fire.
The options for cooking bread in this way are endless and even recipes specifically designed for kitchen ovens can be adapted to suit the wood fired oven. It’s important, though, to make sure your bread bakes over hot embers rather than flames—so make sure your fire has been burning for at least two hours by the time you put the bread in. Although ovens do vary in size, it’s possible to bake several loaves at the same time, making this a cost and time efficient way to cook.
Using about four pieces of wood and leaving them to burn to red coals is the perfect preparation for cooking vegetables in a wood oven. Whole capsicums can be thrown onto the oven floor, and their skins will be blackened when the temperature inside is at about 350 degrees. At this heat, asparagus can also be roasted with a balsamic reduction. Alternatively, roast a medley of vegetables in trays at the bottom of the oven, perhaps with a joint of meat on top. Other vegetables that really lend themselves to the smoky fire include corn-on-the-cob, sweet potatoes and caramelised onions.
Wood fired ovens are ideal for slow-cooking food, which is just what you want when making a stew or casserole. The slow burning heat of the oven will make the meat and vegetables in a stew really tender and allow the flavour of the juices to intensify as they bubble around the pot.
Once temperatures in the oven have reached about 200 degrees, you can roast whole pieces of fish, perhaps arranged over a wire rack and rubbed with oil, lemon and herbs. Similar to roasting a tray of vegetables, you can also cook an array of shellfish such as prawns, mussels and clams together in a wood fired oven. Leave their shells to open and wait for them to turn a golden brown over the hot coals, and then you can then serve the seafood straight from oven-to-table.
Your wood fired oven is also a haven for sweet treats such as baked custard, cheesecake and crème caramel. The temperature needs to reduce to around 150 degrees, but once there, you can make sure you get the most out of the oven by cooking a round of desserts over the coals and wood.