The Oven

The first step to creating pizza is understanding the oven.  I am focusing on the wood burning oven.  I am drawn to the aromas it adds to the food, I like the technique of cooking with a wood oven and it brings me back to my roots when my great grandmother used to cook all her meals in her large hearth in the kitchen with cast-iron pots.  To this day members of my family in Portugal sill make use of an outdoor kitchen with a wood burning oven where they make things like the infamous Portuguese BBQ chicken.  This section will explore the different types of wood burning ovens.

Each culture has its architectural interpretation of what the oven looks like and each culture has engineered the oven’s function for the required use. In this case what type of food is being cooked and the type of wood or fuel being used.  Regardless of what the oven looks like and what it is built with, there are fundamentally two type of wood burning ovens. There are ‘black ovens’ and ‘white ovens’.  Black Ovens are heated by burning wood in the same chamber as the food is to be cooked.  A White oven has a chamber for burning wood separate from the chamber in which the food is cooked and is therefore white and free of ash.

Example of a 'Black' Wood Burning Oven
Example of a ‘Black’ Wood Burning Oven


Example of a 'White' Oven
Example of a ‘White’ Oven

Wood -fired ovens are typically made of masonry such as brick, concrete, stone, clay or cob.  In some cases it is the combination of two or three of these.  I have seen some models that re-use glass bottles for insulation within a masonry shell.  Cast iron is also used for wood fired ovens but these types are most commonly found as a whole assembly of a wood stove with an oven compartment.

Some History on wood Fired ovens:

Masonry ovens are used in the Persian Gulf region for the preparation of the traditional khubz bread.

In India, tandoors are traditional clay ovens, although these days modern electrically fired tandoors are available. The open-topped tandoor is a transitional design between the earth oven and the Roman-plan masonry oven.

The traditional direct-fired masonry design is often called a “Roman” or “black” oven and dates in Western culture to at least the Roman Republic.

How to make your own Wood Fired Oven:

Here are some sites that I came across and would recommend as a possible construction option:


Video Instructions

A great instructional video that explains how the oven works

There are also kits you can purchase to build your own oven:

Instructables – Wood Oven Kit

I am drawn to a wood fired stove because of the fire.  I have always loved tending to a fire and the flavours and aromas it adds to the pizza are unparalleled.  I have also found that a stone slab is best as the cooking surface.  It tends to make up a more even surface then fire bricks with less joints. However the fire brick can be a more economical option and will do the job.