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Wood Fire Brick Ovens Facts & Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a wood-fire brick oven?
Wood-fire brick ovens use a small fire to heat a large solid oven. The oven holds the heat for a long time, so this type of cooking is very economical. Many pizza restaurants use wood-fire brick ovens because they cook the pizza quickly and efficiently. They’re also popular because any residual grease burns off in the oven’s hearth. A Roman-style oven is shaped like an egg with a front door that is about 65 percent as high as the total height of the oven. They may even date to before the Romans. The oven’s ceiling is arched over the cooking surface.

2. How does a wood-fire brick oven work?
After starting a fire in the oven, the dome chamber absorbs the heat until it becomes white hot (sometimes up to 800 Fahrenheit or more). At that point, the fire is either extinguished or left burning gently. The embers from the fire can be swept out before using the oven to cook. Once the oven is up to the correct temperature, the oven door is closed to contain the heat. After the heat has lessened a bit and evened itself throughout the oven, it’s ready to use. The heat that has been absorbed by the oven walls and floor now radiates from them.

3. What materials are used to build a wood-fire brick oven?
A wood-fire brick oven can be built from regular red clay bricks but the placement and design are key to a consistent temperature. They can also be built from a heat-resistant concrete mix or refractory fire bricks used in kilns. Ovens often have fancy trim or decorative brickwork as they are constructed by specially trained craftsman, frequently trained in southern Italy. If the wood-fire brick oven is meant to cook pizza, the walls are thinner. Ovens meant for bread have thicker walls that hold the heat longer.

4. How hot does a wood-fire brick oven get?
After the fire is extinguished, the oven is around 800 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s the optimal temperature for cooking thin, crispy pizzas in about 90 seconds. Less crispy pizza cooks well at 575 degrees. Large roasts can be cooked when the temperature drops to 450 degrees. Bread cooks best with less heat to prevent the crust from burning.

5. What fuel does a wood-fire brick oven use?
As long as it isn’t coated with fire-retardant chemicals or paint, any type of wood can be used. Tree branches, waste wood and old furniture also work well.

A wood-fire brick oven is a great tool for making pizzeria-quality pizza and meals of all kinds. However, it involves some expertise to monitor the temperature for optimal results, and get the perfect pizza you desire.