Outdoor Ovens Provide Old-Time Pleasures
There’s nothing better than the smell of freshly baked bread. Add to that the satisfaction of making the perfect fire and you can begin to understand the allure of an outdoor wood burning oven. While their popularity has been increasing in the U.S. these days, wood burning ovens have been around since the Middle Ages and have been widely used in European countries. Some U.S. cities are even putting them in parks and schools for everyone to use and to help foster communities.
Wood burning ovens are probably best known for baking pizzas and bread but they are much more versatile than that, enabling you to quickly turn out delicious roasts, casseroles, and cakes. Tastefully incorporated into an outdoor kitchen area, they’re especially helpful for meals that would have left a lingering odor in your house, such as fish, or for meals that would have made a greasy mess in a regular oven (the grease naturally burns off in the outdoor oven’s hearth).
Outdoor ovens consist of a circular cooking area with a refractory cooking surface (some ovens include doors for more efficient baking), a vent and chimney, insulation, and an outer shell that connects the oven to the rest of the outdoor kitchen. The outer shell can include amenities such as a refrigerator, barbeque, sink, or a place to store wood. The design of the shell can be created in a myriad of styles, ranging from rounded stucco igloo shapes to elaborate stone work, depending on how you want to complement the style of your outdoor kitchen and whether you want it to be free standing or as part of an existing structure.
The cooking oven can be made from a variety of sources, from special bricks to modern refractory materials that enable you to heat the oven to cooking temperature in a quarter of the time. Some people feel that brick ovens cook better than other materials but they can cost significantly more. Likewise, you can use a refractory vent and chimney instead of a plain steel vent if you’d prefer to spend a little more money for easier installation and longer life. Also, you will want to consider how and how much to insulate the cooking area. The better the insulation, the longer it will retain and release heat, enabling you to cook longer from the same fire. An outdoor kitchen contractor can help you navigate through these decisions.
The construction of a wood burning oven takes advantage of the intense, dry heat that the burning wood provides to evenly and efficiently cook your food. The oven walls radiate the heat they absorb from the fire to surround the food with an even temperature that cooks items quickly, allowing you to cook a whole pizza in 2-3 minutes. Choose the size of your oven based on what you will be cooking and how many items you want to cook at one time. If you’ll be cooking a lot of pizzas, you’ll want a wider opening than if you were only baking bread. It’s helpful to include enough room to fit multiple items so that you can cook everything for a whole meal at once or be able to take care of a larger group if need be. Whatever size and shape, a wood oven is a unique addition to your outdoor kitchen that provides delicious treats for your family and friends. For outdoor kitchen ideas view the outdoor kitchen photo gallery from EnhanceScape.