If you haven’t already noticed, we’re pretty keen on having our pizzas baked in a wood-fired oven. We could swap out our built-in caves of warmth for an electric oven, but the question is, will it do the trick? Let’s dive right in, and figure out if all our four thousand, six hundred and nine Facebook and Instagram followers have their heads screwed on right.
Electric and Gas Ovens
Unlike with a fire, one doesn’t need to tend to a normal household oven at all times. It can be left to heat up on its own without the reassembling of logs — or even the purchase of them — in order to maintain the oven’s temperature. Plus, it’s substantially easier and quicker to get the temperature right back down after over-heating the conventional oven. This process is a little more difficult and time-consuming in a wood-fired oven.
However, the thermal distribution and redistribution of these kinds of ovens is notably less efficient than its wood-fired counterpart. In an oven, there are three different kinds of heat transfer: convection, conduction, and radiation.
Convection — the movement of heated particles around the air surrounding an object. The continuous rise of less dense atoms and the sinking of more dense atoms, resulting in warmth being transferred from the air to the pizza.
Conduction — during which heat is conducted from, say, the base and walls of the oven to the pizza via direct physical contact. This is improved when the materials the oven is made up of are thoroughly heat-receptive.
Radiation — in which infrared or micro-waves are ‘bounced’ through the pizza, coming into contact with particles on the inside. This causes vibrations, friction, and then heat, cooking it on the inside.
The thing about the ovens most of us have at home are the wire racks suspended in the oven. When we cook pizza on these, it takes away from the conductive properties that cook the base, removing that authentic crisp quality of Italian-style pizzas. So, despite electric and gas ovens’ convenience and modern usage, they won’t produce the same quality of pizzas that wood-fired ovens ensure.
Let’s be honest, pizzas that have come from a traditional wood-fueled oven have charm. They’re cute and quirky, and the demand for pizzerias with these sorts of quirks are growing. On top of that, it adds a personal, independent element to the pizzas cooked in them: the wood. The smoky aroma that’s embedded in the thin, crackling bases of our pizzas? That’s the wood talking. In fact, the maintenance of WFOs are a lot easier than most think, and you can check out our full how-to on cleaning and the importance of wood here.
Also, due to their increase in popularity, industries are beginning to sell pre-assembled wood-fired ovens. In comparison to the price of electric ovens, these are cheaper. And these kinds of ovens are definitely not lacking in the heat department. The bricks at the base in a traditional WFO are so receptive to heat reception and retention, thus ticking all three boxes in thermal distribution and redistribution.
To sum it up, if you’re looking for simplicity, pick the conventional ovens. And if you’re looking for authenticity, pick wood-fired ovens. We know which one we’d go for…
Aimee van der Merwe
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