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Old 07-03-2012, 03:14 PM
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Default Neapolitan wood fired oven-for your perfect pizza

Hi guys I wanted to share with you my opinion and knowledge of the traditional wood fired pizza oven , I hope you enjoy!

The Neapolitan wood-burning oven was first used by the Egyptians of the early civilisations. Made with clay from the Nile, the fantastic invention gave the people the chance to cook their food, most probably for the first time.

The structure of the early oven was different compared to the familiar ones we see today. In fact, the antiquated oven was split into two – the hob, and underneath was the space for burning the wood to heat the oven.

The Romans introduced some changes to this discovery by the Egyptians. Using their skill in building arches, the Romans developed and applied the same system to the inside of the oven’s design, resulting in an arc or dome-shaped structure. This familiar form has remained unchanged until today.

Now how is a Neapolitan wood-burning oven constructed?

The basic structure of an artisan Neapolitan wood-burning oven consists of the base, and the dome.

The base is typically a manufactured steel base filled with ¾ clay and ¼ sand from the sea. The sand is then covered with another thin layer of clay, then finally covered with refractory brown bricks called “biscuit of Sorrento.”

Once the bricks are laid, a thin layer of plaster is applied between the bricks that form the oven hob, giving the bricks a small space to expand when they are subjected to intensive heat , otherwise, the bricks will split or crack.

Meanwhile, the arc-shaped dome of a Neapolitan wood-burning oven is built separately. Its size is patterned after the diameter of the oven’s base, and is usually made with the bricks of “Santa Maria”- large refractory bricks, that don’t allow the heat to escape.

An important consideration that characterises the dome is the size of its mouth. Ideally, it should be small enough for the the oven to contain, and not easily disperse the heat.

Once the dome is formed, the brick is covered with cement, and a thin layer of insulating material is applied in between. Again, this is done to enable the oven to contain and not easily lose heat.

Campania is the last remaining region of Italy that continues to produce the handmade traditional Artisan Neapolitan wood-burning ovens. It is a craft that requires special skills, utilising materials in the region and following specific characteristics.

________________________________

Why the Neapolitan wood-burning oven?

There are a number of reasons why I prefer, and would recommend, the Neapolitan wood-burning oven to make your perfect pizza.

For one, I grew up with it as my forefathers did, and trust me on this – a real Neapolitan pizza can only be authentic if it is made using a wood-burning oven!

Neapolitan Wood-burning ovens are better that modern, conventional ones since they are capable of sustaining higher temperatures and spreading the heat evenly inside. A metal oven simply can’t do that.

While a metal oven cannot generate or retain sufficient heat in excess of, say 500 degrees Celsius, a wood-burning oven can very well do so and radiates the heat evenly inside its walls.

The wood-burning oven’s capability to retain heat at longer periods of time also comes in handy especially if you are preparing many pizzas at the shortest possible time.

Lastly, they simply enhance the flavour and quality of the pizza – cooking it to perfection.

Top tips

To have a perfectly-cooked pizza, your oven should have the ideal capacity of six to seven pizzas.

If your oven can cook for more than that, it usually means it has a bigger “mouth” which requires more wood.

An oven with a big mouth or opening consequently looses a lot of heat and therefore you will be constantly in need of more wood, wasting your money! I’m sure none of us would want that.

Also, if your oven has a bigger capacity, the pizzas that are cooked close to the “mouth” of the oven will require more time to cook –therefore lessens the quality, and alters the ideal characteristics of perfect pizzas.

So keep this in mind,

keep the “mouth” of your oven closed!
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Old 07-03-2012, 05:44 PM
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Default Re: Neapolitan wood fired oven-for your perfect pizza

"Campania is the last remaining region of Italy that continues to produce the handmade traditional Artisan Neapolitan wood-burning ovens. It is a craft that requires special skills, utilising materials in the region and following specific characteristics."

I think if you spend any time on this site you find that anyone, anywhere can create an oven that is in many ways better than those of which you speak, although the general principals are the same.
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Old 07-03-2012, 05:59 PM
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Default Re: Neapolitan wood fired oven-for your perfect pizza

Can ya bake SPAM in that thang ?
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Old 07-03-2012, 10:18 PM
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Default Re: Neapolitan wood fired oven-for your perfect pizza

"keep the “mouth” of your oven closed!"

From what I've seen, read and discovered personally, this advice is contrary to what everyone else has found to be the best way to cook pizza ie. cook with the door open and maintain an active fire. If you attempt to cook with the door closed, not only will the fire go out (risking dangerous sudden ignition when it is removed), but you can not observe the pizza cooking. When they only take 90secs you need to be able to see what's going on. You also need to maintain the fire to keep the oven up to temp. otherwise you need to refire after about 8 pizzas. (if done one at a time)

Keep the mouth of your oven open I'd recommend.

Last edited by david s; 07-03-2012 at 10:36 PM.
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Old 07-04-2012, 11:29 AM
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Default Re: Neapolitan wood fired oven-for your perfect pizza

Being Italian, I STRONGLY disagree that the region of Campania is the only with "proper" ovens.

Come over to my family home in Maremma, and we'll show you a proper pizza oven
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Old 07-04-2012, 04:26 PM
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Default Re: Neapolitan wood fired oven-for your perfect pizza

"To have a perfectly-cooked pizza, your oven should have the ideal capacity of six to seven pizzas."

What diameter oven is required to cook six to seven pizzas at once ?

Last edited by Neil2; 07-04-2012 at 04:33 PM.
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Old 07-04-2012, 10:10 PM
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Default Re: Neapolitan wood fired oven-for your perfect pizza

Quote:
Originally Posted by Neil2 View Post
"To have a perfectly-cooked pizza, your oven should have the ideal capacity of six to seven pizzas."

What diameter oven is required to cook six to seven pizzas at once ?
Neil - you are a "Il Pizzaiolo" you know it's some factor of pi. Seriously, it's a nebulous statement. The first question that comes to mind is what size are the pizza's ???
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Old 07-06-2012, 05:35 PM
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Default Re: Neapolitan wood fired oven-for your perfect pizza

"it's a nebulous statement. "

Maybe, but we all want to know what size is required for a "perfectly-cooked pizza" don't we ?

Practically I can only get three pizza at once in my 40 incher. I might have to tear it down and build a 60 inch oven to fit 6 pizzas.
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Old 07-06-2012, 05:47 PM
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Default Re: Neapolitan wood fired oven-for your perfect pizza

You must have enormous crowds at your pizza parties to require cooking 6 pizzas at a time. Reality is that most of us cook one at a time because it takes longer to prepare than cook pizzas. In my little oven I can fit in 2 x 9" pizzas at a time but prefer to cook one at a time. I find a party of 30 is quite comfortable to handle, but with good management have done up to 70 ok, provided everyone just shares whatever comes out rather than waiting for "their" pizza.
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Old 07-08-2012, 09:03 AM
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Default Re: Neapolitan wood fired oven-for your perfect pizza

I too cook just one at a time. Prep takes longer than cooking but with an "assembly line" of helpers it is quite possible to do 25 or so pizzas an hour.
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