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Scientifically! Why wood-fired/gas-fired ovens? - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community



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Scientifically! Why wood-fired/gas-fired ovens?

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  • Scientifically! Why wood-fired/gas-fired ovens?

    Does anyone know why wood-fired ovens cook better pizza scientifically?

    Does anyone also know that ‘the term of better Pizza’ include ‘healthy’ as well as delicious?

    Any comments/help/suggestions are much appreciated.

    Thanks a lot.

  • #2
    Better pizza?

    Retained heat ovens in particular make better pizza because the cook more rapidly and give you qualities in the crust and toppings that are difficult if not impossible to replicate in a standard oven. The fuel is not that critical. What is critical is the intense heat radiating from all sides. Granted, if you have a smoky fire, it will impart some flavor to the product, but generally it is the huge reservoir of heat that makes the difference.
    Any claims as to more healthy would not hold any water. It is the quality of the ingredients that make it more healthy.
    Renaissance Man
    Wholly Man


    • #3
      Ciao Muti,

      Chad has it right that the biggest benefit is that heated refractory material cooks different than a conventional oven '' that pushed around hot air in a metal box.

      Here is a good link with more info on how refractory ovens work relative to conventional ovens:


      As to the health benefit, I cannot see that one.
      Pizza Ovens
      Outdoor Fireplaces


      • #4
        I bet most homemade pizza (especially a thin crust, lightly topped pizza) is a lot healthier than domino's. My problem is the brick oven pizza is so good I don't really know when to stop - bye bye health benefits!


        • #5

          Exactly. That comes down to the ingredients. I shudder to think what the chains put in their pizza. Scary.

          The folks at Caputo and Vera Pizza Napoletana think a good brick oven pizza has about one third the calories and fat of a chain pizza. No bad. And it tastes better.

          Pizza Ovens
          Outdoor Fireplaces


          • #6
            It' about 1/3 the calories of a chain pizza. It's tough finding nutritional information on our kind of pizza, but 1/8 of a large domino's "hand tossed" pizza with just cheese, sauce and sausage is 360 calories. I found a Whole Foods recipe for Margherita calling for 1 5/8 cups flour, 1/3 cup of San Marzano tomato and 1/2 lb of mozzerella for pizza margherita where 1/3 of the pizza is 650 calories. I use 1/2 that much flour, about 1/3 that much cheese, and probably about that much tomato sauce. I also cut 8 slices usually, so each slice should be about 100 calories. I probably eat 8-12 slices though


            • #7
              wooden/gas flame!

              I sincerely appreciate comments and suggestions you have made guys. Thanks a lot.

              But I was expecting a little more scientific explanation. I am joining this forum from Japan. I used to work for big, nice Pizza restaurants in London. From my point of view, and as far as my experience goes, Three is a huge difference between wooden-flame cooked and gas-flamed cooked pizza in terms of taste. But I just want to found out the chemical explanation behind this difference. Any ideas/opinions/suggestions/comments??

              Thanks again!


              • #8
                Weird science

                Muti, I think Janprimus addressed this the best that can be done - he approached the topic by what's different (from the physics standpoint) about wood oven pizza. What are you looking for as far as the chemical difference question?

                I'm not sure I'd be willing to spare a pizza slice for analysis in a mass spectrometer or high pressure liquid chromatography setup. From a taste bud analysis I feel there is a difference in the taste of the pizza - a faint carmelization flavor in the crust and toppings due to the high heat cooking. It's the difference between seared ahi on a smoking hot cast iron skillet and ahi grilled at a lower temperature on my grill - on the skillet you get that caramelization more quickly without losing the delicate texture of the raw fish. Chemically that's burnt sugar (oxidation of carbohydrate) or a Maillard reaction when in the presence of amino acids.

                Maybe you can clarify why you are asking this - I'm not sure we're addressing what you want to know (but it may also be a question that does not have a ready answer).


                • #9

                  I have been a little busy and could not log in!!

                  Thanks a lot for the comments and advice you have given.


                  • #10

                    I have been a little busy and could not log in!!

                    Thanks a lot for the comments and advice you have given.


                    • #11
                      There's one additional factor that makes brick ovens better...

                      Humidity. The byproducts of combustion, whether from gas, wood, or even charcoal, are CO2 and water. Electric ovens actually remove water from the air in an oven, and most home ovens are electric.

                      The difference is noticeable in all oven-cooked products, but especially in pizza and focaccia, and one other...poultry. In both cases, the product is "juicier"...in turkey and chicken, the meat, even of the breast, is literally dripping with juice.

                      In pizza, the crust has a crunchy/tender quality that is unmatched in electric ovens. Right out of the oven, the thinner breads will be firm to the tooth, but emit billowing steam when torn. You won't see that, or taste it, even in the best electric oven setups (like putting a huge stone in the oven to soak up, then radiate, heat). This quality is also present in hearth loaves, but is not so obvious because they're cooled before eating. It does create the larger "nooks" in artisan breads. I have verified this by baking the same loaf from the same batch of dough in two different ovens.

                      Another product that can show the difference between ovens, but works much better in electrics, is the confection divinity (egg whites, sugar, and ground nuts). In a gas oven, it comes out spongy and glossy like a marshmallow, in an electric it's dry and crisp, crunchy to the tooth. In this case, though, electric wins! I haven't tried making divinity in the wood-fired oven, but I don't think it would work

                      Happy baking!!