Do it yourself
Wood oven cooking is exciting! We love to share ideas, tips and techniques with others; here are some of our favorites. If you have something to add, please tell us.
Wood-oven cooking: favorite books
- The Bread Builders by Alan Scott and Daniel Wing. This wonderful book has the best discussion I’ve ever seen about how bread happens (what does yeast actually do? how does gluten work? etc). If your bread doesn’t come out the way you want, this book will help understand what to do about it. The book also gives in-depth instructions for building and baking in a brick oven.
- American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza by Peter Reinhart. The first half of the book is the story of Reinhart’s travels throughout Italy and the U.S., looking for great pizza. The rest of the book is how to make pizza, with recipes and in-depth presentation of techniques. Everything in the book is equally useful for conventional or wood-fired ovens.
- The Magic of Fire: One hundred recipes for fireplace and campfire by William Rubel. This is a stunning and beautiful book, full of wonderful recipes for hearth cooking, either in a fireplace or at a campfire. Techniques include cooking on embers, ash baking, and the use of fire-heated metal utensils.
- Books on grilling often have good recipes for wood ovens. I especially like High Heat by Waldy Malouf. It has great recipes and unusual flavor combinations like grilled pineapple with lime, juniper berries and gin.
What if you don’t have a wood oven?
A conventional oven doesn’t get as hot as a wood oven so it won’t cook pizza the same, but you can come close. The best method (and the best name!) is the Zinski Two-Stone Method from The Artisan:
Steve Zinski suggests that two baking stones be used rather than one. The first to be placed on the lowest rack, and the second on the rack just below the broiler element or flame. Having positioned them thus, preheat the oven at 500° – 550° for at least 30 minutes, preferably an hour. Cook the pizza for about 4 minutes on the lower stone, then turn the broiler on and move the pizza to the upper stone, directly under the broiler. Allow it to cook there for a couple of minutes or until the crust is bubbled and crisp.
Another great–though surprisingly complex!–way to make pizza is on a grill. Peter Reinhart gives a detailed description in American Pie (see above).
- Forno Bravo: extensive information on every aspect of wood ovens from recipes to an online forum. Also, we sell Forno Bravo ovens and can help you with selection and installation.
- The Artisan: great recipes for bread and Italian food, in either wood-fired or conventional ovens.
- Alan Scott’s Ovencrafters: baking wood-fired bread, plus oven-building plans.