Thursday, May 24, 2012

Guest Post: How to Create a Stone Pizza Oven in Your Own Home

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While you can make a perfectly acceptable pizza in a domestic oven, they pale in comparison to those cooked in one of the massive clay pizza ovens you see in pizzerias. One reason for this is the sheer amount of heat these ovens generate, which your own oven can’t quite stretch to, making it hard to create those crispy, doughy, delicious pizzas they make all across Italy, from Napoli to Turin.
Hard, but not impossible. There is a way to make pizza the authentic Italian way with a makeshift stone pizza oven in your very own kitchen. Follow these easy steps and you’ll be making pizzas that may even turn a few heads in Sicily.

Pizza Stones
Pizza stones are exactly what they sound like, unless you imagined them to be the stones found in the centre of a pizza that produces more pizzas when you plant it. That would be awesome. But no, they are actually stone slates that pizza is placed on in the oven. The slates spread heat evenly to the pizza base and give it that authentic, stone-baked quality we love so much.
Now, before you rush out and buy some, you need to know the following:
  • They vary significantly in price.
  • Do your research, more expensive does not necessarily mean higher quality.
  • Don’t go for the very cheapest ones. They probably won’t work as well and there is a good chance they will crack.
  • They will make a more authentic pizza but your oven is still a regular, if modified oven. A real stone oven produces much better results that you will be lucky to completely replicate. That will cost a lot more.
How to modify your oven
Adapting your oven is the easiest, most affordable way to create a stone oven, although if you have the time and money, you could always build a real one from scratch but that’s a whole different story.
These modifications will not be permanent so you will still be able to use your oven normally when you’re not in the mood for pizza. To pull this off you might need to buy a pizza stone to act as your base.
Follow these simple steps and before you know it you’ll be enjoy the best home-cooked you’ve ever had:
  • Measure the dimensions of your oven, otherwise your stones won’t fit and that’s no good.
  • Buy enough fire bricks to build an enclosure within your oven.
  • It is vital that the fire bricks are unglazed as the glazed ones contain lead that will really ruin the flavour of your pizza. Also, it’s poisonous. That’s important.
  • Also, make sure they are actually fire bricks, they also go by the name of refractory bricks.
  • A far as the base of your pizza oven is concerned you have two choices. Either create a floor of bricks on the bottom rack of your oven, or simply cover the rack with foil and lay down one brick on top of it.
  • Another layer of bricks on the top oven rack will provide a roof.
  • Prop more bricks on their side on the base to create the walls. Thicker bricks will stand up more easily, you don’t want them falling into the pizza. If you do, you’re weird.
  • Pre-heat your oven to its maximum temperature and leave the stones to absorb the heat for 30 minutes to an hour. As the stones get hotter they centre the heat more intensely within the pizza oven, providing all the degrees you need for an authentic pizza experience.
  • This pizza oven is going to be a lot hotter than what you’re used to so open with caution and make sure your hands are suitably protected. If you think a regular oven burn hurts you could be in for an unpleasant surprise.
  • Put the pizza in and give it a good 10 minutes. It is best to keep an eye on it to make sure you don’t burn it. But get it right and you’ll soon be enjoying the best home-cooked pizza you could ever hope for.
  • Give the bricks time to cool before attempting to remove them. Or just simply leave them in and only eat pizza. Either way, the pizza oven is quick and easy to assemble and disassemble so you can enjoy a decent home-cooked pizza whenever you want.

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