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About Brick Ovens
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  • custom brick ovens
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    Brick Oven Pizza School
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    Brick Oven Cooking
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    Backyard Brick Ovens
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    Worlds Best Pizza

A brick oven is made out of refractory materials, stone, brick, or clay that can take heat, store it, and radiate it back out slowly and evenly. Brick ovens have been in use for thousands of years. The ovens we build today work pretty much in the same way. A true brick oven can only be built by hand.

The cooking technique is fairly simple. You build a hot fire on the side or the rear of the oven. Then you wait until the oven has reached the temperature needed. As the oven gets hot, the carbon build up from the smoke will start to dissipate and disappear. Then your oven will truly be ready to cook with.
The bricks of the oven, store heat, and give it back by radiating the heat and cooking the food.  With pizza for example – you're not cooking the food directly with the fire, this is a common misconception, you are cooking the pizza with mostly radiant heat! The fire heats the bricks and the bricks radiate the heat.

The key to radiant heat is a properly insulated oven with a lot of thermo- mass. The mass from the fire bricks holds and reflects the heat. Brick ovens can cook at any temperature up to 900 degrees. The high heat is great for Neapolitan style pizza (wet dough 60% hydration), but regular brick oven pizza should cook at around 600 or 700.

The size of the fire and the time burning regulates the heat. The oven usually takes up to an hour to be ready to cook. Regulating the flames and temperature is some what of a skill, you will learn from experience while cooking with the brick oven. As your skill increases you will be able to work closer to the fire and with more heat cooking pizza as fast as 90 seconds!

Starting the fire: The most important thing to getting the brick oven up to the correct temperature is being able to use dry, seasoned, hardwood. Woods such as oak, cherry, maple or apple- (apple is my favorite but it's costly!) have a high BTU value. What that means is they give off a lot more energy when burning. If it's not hardwood, it won't put out enough BTUS (energy) to get the oven hot enough, to cook like it should.  Always use good clean hard seasoned wood. Never over load the oven build your fire slowly.

Building the fire: The way to build a fire is to put the wood pieces in the shape of a log cabin (you know , crisscross one on top of the other) so that the least amount of wood is touching the floor of the oven as possible. Then use small pieces of kindle from underneath to ignite the wood.

We light the wood in the front of the brick oven, and then push it into the back after it lights, this can take some time. You really want to make sure the wood is lit, and crackling, before you push it back. Never throw wood into your oven, you can break the oven floor and dome. Once the fire is in the back of your oven it should stay lit. As you put more wood onto the fire you want to lean them upwards. This way the air gets around the log and allows it to burn. You will be adding logs in the oven as needed. Never toss wood into the oven you can crack the floor or dome. Place wood on a metal shovel or the oven surface and push to the back carefully. Your brick oven should last for years if you take care of it.

Seasoning Your Oven: Seasoning usually takes several weeks, even though some say years! It's called a curing period. As the oven cures all the moisture comes out from the stones, and the cooking becomes more even and dynamic. A new oven needs to be brought up in temperature slowly over the course of several days. This curing period is crucial to the cooking performance and structural integrity of the oven. Heating it to fast can cause stress cracks. But almost all brick ovens have expansion cracks. It's natural and nothing to worry about. The bricks must expand with heat.

Sweeping the Oven: Before you put the pizza in to be cooked– you must move the burning wood/embers over to one side or in the back of the oven depending upon your oven shape.

You clean the surface of the oven with a good brass brush (long handle wooden is best), sweep the oven floor from front to back, repeat until the oven surface gets a slight sheen and is clean of all ash.

If the surface is too hot from the fire, cool it down with a wet rag on the end of the oven brush. Rub the wet rag over the surface evenly, then test out the surface with the first pizza you cook!

About Brick Oven Cooking.  A brick oven gets very hot, and can cook very fast; the food doesn't have time to dry out. This is what allows the natural caramelizing of the sugars in the food, giving great flavors to any dish. Your brick oven does a lot more then pizza. Try steaks, fish, vegetables, desserts and breads you will be surprised at what you can do with the brick oven.

Breads need to cook with out flames. The oven should be hot and then cooled down to about 500 degrees. You can then lightly spray the oven with water to add moister, this will keep your breads cooking slowly and evenly. Brick oven breads are absolutely the best. Try different recipes until you get the one you love.

So if you need a true brick oven give us a call we will be glad to help you.