Who can deny the absolutely exquisite taste of homemade baking in a wood fired pizza oven? Whether it is pizza or a loaf of bread, the delicious warmth that these ovens deliver is unmatched. That distinctive flavor is still sought after today, from high end restaurants to fast food joints on the corner and most of all, in your own home.
People have been using wood fired baking or cooking for centuries – from the early Roman period right up to today. Excavations have uncovered wood fired ovens in a variety of ancient civilizations. Could pizza have been a family favorite even back then?
When visiting Pompeii in southern Italy you’ll be amazed at the eerie preservation of this seaside city. From the cobblestones right down to the mosaics and of course, Pompeii’s brick ovens – the town has been frozen in time for almost two thousand years. Some say that pizza could be baked in those ancient ovens today after making only a few minor adjustments.
From Ancient Days to the Dark Ages
The urban centers of the ancient world often had shared brick ovens. Originating in Egypt and other Mediterranean regions, the wood fire brick oven spread throughout Europe and was used to make everything from bread to roasted meat.
In Northern Europe the stone ovens were owned and controlled by the Lord of that region. Villagers or peasants used the oven only with his permission and it was considered a privilege (although there was often a charge associated with the use). This type of feudal system fostered a community connection and placed a vital importance in the culinary appliance.
The social situation was different in Italy and aged ovens are found in average farm houses across the country. Many of them are still in use, although other homes have upgraded to the quicker modern models.
Demand for bread has always been high. But when the stone oven was adapted into what is known as the French or Scottish oven, large quantities of oven baked bread became much simpler to produce. The commercial oven was born.
It had a longer, leaner shape with a barrel-shaped vault in front of a separate fire chamber. Ideal for the indirect cooking method that was used to bake scrumptious food, this type of stone oven is still widely used in Europe today.
Today’s Wood Fired Pizza Ovens Combine Innovation and Tradition
Wood fired oven design has remained the same throughout the centuries, with a domed chamber and front vent still incorporated in the ovens made today.
After metal became the oven material of choice in Victorian industrial times, the stone oven began to fall out of style. Baking took too long and the construction was highly specialized – two strikes against it in the turn-of-the-century society that was getting used to speed and mass production.
Roll ahead to the 1990’s, when refractory materials were designed and manufactured changing the face of the fireplace and oven industry completely.
Using these materials, the baking time in wood fired pizza ovens was cut by more than half. And it also made “oven kit” designs possible and popular. Homeowners, restaurants and institutions alike could purchase an oven that baked with the texture and flavor of old world stone ovens, yet was installed quickly and hassle-free.
From that point on the industry has only grown.
Now you can find pizza ovens in stainless steel and aluminum, as well as the traditional stone. There are models that can be built into your outdoor kitchen, a convenient and attractive way to include this appliance in your home.
Freestanding models are still extremely popular and a collection of dedicated manufacturers make hand-cut brick ovens that are a beautiful addition to your yard while providing mouth watering menu options. There are even portable models that can be taken on the road, providing warm baked goodness wherever you end up.
Outdora has a vast selection of wood fired pizza ovens from all of the big name manufacturers. Choose the design or style that suits your home and consider alternative fuel sources. Gas or propane powered ovens are ultra convenient, while the traditional wood burning designs deliver the flavor that has been favored for millennia.
Still delicious and operating with the same basic technology throughout its history, the wood fired pizza oven is the choice of today’s discerning pizza fan. Simple gourmet that’s as popular as ever
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Diana Dart was born into the patio design business. Working in her family contracting business for years, she’s now part owner and loves spending her time helping homeowners create an oasis in their backyards. She’s also published countless articles about gardening, curb appeal and landscaping online and in various print publications.