A wood fire oven can make a wonderful addition to any backyard. A high-quality oven can be an eye-catching feature and take your outdoor entertaining area to the next level. And of course, nothing compares to the flavours and textures of traditional wood fired pizza.
However, when considering wood fire ovens, one common question people ask is “How often will I actually use it?”
I mean, how often do you actually eat pizza? If you think about it in those terms, then it could feel like a wood fire oven might spend most of its time just sitting around collecting dust.
Well, the good news is there’s plenty you can cook in a wood fire oven besides pizza.
Bread, all kinds of Bread
Wood fire ovens are designed for cooking pizza dough, which is essentially a type of bread. So you better believe you can bake bread in a pizza oven! From baguettes, to sourdough to focaccia, you can wood fire pretty much any type of bread (with a little practice).
However, baking bread in a wood fire oven can be tricky. Pizza dough doesn’t need to rise and it cooks quickly at an extremely high temperature. Many other breads, like sourdough, on the other hand, need to rise and so require some steam in the oven to cook properly. Additionally, it can be difficult to maintain a consistent heat in a wood fire oven, with most cooking done “on the fall” (that is, as the oven temperature slowly falls from its peak pizza cooking temperatures).
When baking bread, you may want to place some tin cans filled with water inside the oven and close the door to ensure you have the steam necessary to get a good rise. Otherwise, you can bake the bread inside a cast iron pot to get that necessary moisture.
Breads tend to be more temperature sensitive than a lot of other foods, so it’s important to ensure you have the right temperature and you know how to keep the oven with the right temperature range while baking.
Slow Roasted Meats
From slow roasted beef brisket to barbecue ribs to pulled pork, a wood fire oven is a fantastic way to get those natural smokey flavours that you can’t get in a conventional oven. These kinds of meats love low and slow cooking, so make sure to keep the temperature down and keep cooking until the meat is falling off the bone. The type of wood you use for the fire can have a big impact on flavour, so make sure you do your research before lighting up.
As with your meats, the natural smokey flavours of wood fire cooking does wonders for seafood. From pan roasted mussels to fried prawns to an entire baked fish, you can’t go wrong with wood fired seafood. Generally, seafood doesn’t take long to cook, so make sure you keep an eye on the temperature and don’t overcook it.
It’s hard to ruin a tray of roast vegetables. Simply chop up your favourite roasting veggies, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and your herbs or choice and throw the tray in the oven. Done! A nice hot wood fire will give the vegetables that crispy char that adds so much flavour.
Besides your traditional roast veggies, you can also try roast potatoes, blistered capsicum, smoked eggplants or any of your other favourite vegetable side dishes.
Crank up the oven nice and early for a lazy Sunday breakfast. Try middle eastern baked eggs for something a little different. Otherwise go traditional and throw a skillet of bacon, eggs and flame roasted tomatoes into the oven.
A wood fire oven can be surprisingly versatile once you get the hang of the various cooking techniques. By moving beyond just pizza and exploring the full range of wood fire options, you’ll be able to get maximum use from your oven.