Is wood fired pizza better ?
If you’ve ever sampled the pizza from Firehut, then you know it is quite different form the pizza you get in the supermarket or even make at home. But have you ever wondered what makes our pizza so different or special?
Of course you have to be able to make great tasting dough that is in the correct condition, but there is one important factor that plays a not-so-secret role in our pizza’s success, it’s wood fired! Cooking in a wood fired oven is truly unlike anything else, and it is certainly a country mile away from what you can achieve in and around a regular domestic oven.
What is wood fired pizza?
To say that pizza is “wood fired” simply means that it has been prepared in a wood-fired oven. A traditional wood burning oven is made from a variety of materials such as brick, clay, concrete or stone. Wood is burned to heat the oven, which reaches extremely high cooking temperatures, after the heating process the wood is usually moved to one side to maintain the base and chamber temperature. In terms of cooking a pizza and in particular the timing, the Neapolitan pizza guidelines specify a cooking time of no longer than a minute and a half - yes just 90 seconds!
How is wood fired pizza better or different?
Well for starters it looks like nothing else, every pizza will emerge from the oven looking different, each one different and unique. It is these knarly bits and lumps and bumps that are so appetising. There might be a few large bubbles on the crust and often a large air bubble will blacken as the walls are so thin, this is the nature of that fast cooking and high heat. The bottom of the crust will often attain a slightly “charred” exterior, yet the crust or as the Italian's say "cornicione" will maintain an aerated, light but chewy and unctuous doughy feel. This unique texture is once again thanks to the high heat: in a more traditional oven which can only reach a temperature hundreds of degrees lower there simply isn't the heat to explode the dough and cook it thoroughly and quickly. The crust in the conventional oven will require more time to cook and the dough will skin over, resisting some of the lift and cook to a more more dense and dry texture.
What about the taste of wood fired pizza.
The strangest thing happens in the wood fire. Burnt and charred pizza tastes beautiful, with rich, doughy and slightly "sourdough" notes. Since the pizza cooks very quickly in a wood fired oven, you can gauge how far you want to take the dough and adjust the balance of natural smoky taste imparted by the wood fire and the amount of charring. This balance in the hands of the able "pizzaiolo" is the gold dust that the wood fired oven sprinkles on your dinner!
The toppings and cheese also benefit for the high temperatures. The heat lifts the aromatic ingredients and chars the edges of the others. Raw vegetables get a boost in flavour and retain a little texture and the Fior de latte, mozzarella or Burrata are heated enough to provide a beautiful milky rich backdrop to the crunch and richness of the dough. It is this combination of flavours and reactions that make the wood fired pizza so special and a legendary combination that will never go away.
Is wood fired pizza better?
Well, great pizza is great pizza, and there is space for everyone and enjoyment in eating the whole range of pizza whether wood fired, gas fired or even coal! For us of course the artistry of controlling the fire by understanding your oven, wood, wood size and moisture level and the subsequent unique smoky notes and variable charring makes the level of skill combined with the results completely compelling! So for us there is nothing like it and it tops the pizza pile.