Introduction: What is Wood Fired Pizza and Why is it Different?
Wood fired pizza is a type of pizza that is cooked in a wood fired oven. It was first introduced in Naples, Italy and has become very popular in the United States, and across the world.
Wood fired pizza is different from other types of pizzas because it is cooked at a much higher temperature – at least 400°C or 752°F, and often even hotter again.
True Neapolitan pizza is meant to be cooked in 1 minute, and you need move the pizza around regularly during the cook time so that your pizza is evenly cooked.
This helps to create the wood smoked flavour profile and texture of the dough, sauce and toppings.
The taste of the wood smoke is very distinctive and unique. Many people believe it is the most authentic way to enjoy pizza.
Wood fired pizza certainly has a crispier crust and the toppings are usually cooked for less time than other types of pizza.
- Introduction: What is Wood Fired Pizza and Why is it Different?
- How do I Cook Wood Fired Pizza?
- How do I Make Wood Fired Pizza Dough?
- Best Pizza Dough Recipes
- Easy Pizza Dough Recipe Classic Option 1
- Best Pizza Dough for Wood Fired Pizza Option 2
- How Do I Make the Sauce for Wood Fired Pizza?
- Best Pizza Sauce Recipe
- Rolling out Wood Fired Pizza Dough
- How Do I Cook My Wood Fired Pizza?
- Homemade Easy Pizza Ideas
- Trying Out Our New Ooni Karu 12 for the First Time!
How do I Cook Wood Fired Pizza?
Wood fired ovens are usually more expensive than a regular oven but they really are worth it if you want to make great pizzas at home.
Ooni have a number of very reasonably priced options, although there are plenty of other options available.
You can still make great tasting pizza in a conventional oven, although you obviously won’t get the wood fired taste.
You can get round this to some extent by adding wood chips to the bottom of your oven in an aluminium tray.
Soak the chips for an hour or two in some water. Just before you put them in the oven, drain them and keep some of the liquid you soaked them in.
Then put your wood chips in an aluminium tray with a little of the soaking liquid, and place at the bottom of your oven.
Soaking them stops them catching fire in the oven, and this little hack will help you get some smoke in to your pizzas.
Another option we like is to smoke your pizza on the barbecue with the lid down or your smoker grill. That way you get a really good wood smoke flavour into your pizza, although it will take longer than a wood fired oven which is much hotter.
We are going to take you through the process of making wood fired pizza at home step by step.
True Neapolitan Pizza dough has only 4 ingredients – Tipo 00 Flour, Water, Salt and Yeast.
If you want to make this dough just leave out the olive oil, sugar, and semolina. We’ve included those ingredients because we happen to think it makes for a superior pizza dough. Semolina adds to the crispiness of the dough, sugar helps the dough to caramelise when cooking, and a little oil prevents it from being too dry.
Pizza Nazis will of course disagree.
How do I Make Wood Fired Pizza Dough?
Best Pizza Dough Recipes
We have found 2 recipes for pizza dough that we think are ‘the best,’ recipes. The first one is the classic Neapolitan pizza dough (which makes for a lovely airy crust), and the second has a few extra ingredients which make the pizza base a bit crispier with a little bit more of a chew to it.
If you prefer a more airy, light pizza dough we would recommend the classic Neapolitan dough with 4 ingredients and hand-stretching it.
If you prefer a thinner crispy crust then the second option with semolina, olive oil and little sugar rolled out thinly with a rolling pin might suit better.
Easy Pizza Dough Recipe Classic Option 1
For this easy pizza dough recipe, you only need 4 ingredients:
- 1 KG Tipo 00 (We like Caputo 00 Flour)
- 1 Teaspoon Dried Yeast
- 600ml Warm Water (400ml Cold Water to 200ml Boiling Water)
- 4 Teaspoons of Salt
Add the salt, water and yeast together first and stir. Place the 1 KG Tipo 00 Flour in a large bowl, and add the salt, water and yeast mixture to the flour.
Knead the dough in the bowl with wet hands until you have a large smooth ball.
Tip the dough onto a floured surface, and knead for another 10 minutes or so.
Return the dough to the bowl, sprinkle over a little more flour, and cover with clingfilm. For best results leave for at least 12 hours to prove, preferably 2-3 days in the fridge.
Best Pizza Dough for Wood Fired Pizza Option 2
Ingredients for Neapolitan Style Wood Fired Pizza Dough
- 1 kg Tipo 00 Flour
- 250g Semolina Flour
- 4 Teaspoons Fine Sea Salt
- 5 Teaspoons of Sugar
- 600ml Lukewarm Water
- 10g Yeast
- 60ml Olive Oil
Follow the same procedure as above and then add the oil, semolina and sugar at the end before kneading.
Whichever pizza dough recipe you choose we want a high gluten and high protein dough for best results.
Gluten takes a while to develop so leaving your dough to prove for 2-3 days will ensure a high gluten content. 12-24 hours is fine, but 2-3 days in the fridge for a cold prove will always be better.
You can always make it on Wednesday or Thursday to use on Saturday night. It’s not at all difficult and pretty fast to throw together.
This will make around 10 11” Pizzas.
The longer you leave your dough, the easier it will be to stretch out and the better the end result. 2-3 days is optimal.
How Do I Make the Sauce for Wood Fired Pizza?
Best Pizza Sauce Recipe
- 2 Tins of Peeled Plum Tomatoes
- 1 Whole Peeled Garlic Clove
- A Handful of Fresh Basil Leaves
- 1 Teaspoon of Fine Sea Salt
- 1 Teaspoon of Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- Optional – 1 Teaspoon of Dried Oregano
Place all the ingredients in a blender (we like to use the Nutri-bullet for smoothness) and blend until you have a smooth paste.
Now you are ready to roll out or hand-stretch your dough.
Rolling out Wood Fired Pizza Dough
For each pizza you roll out you need a dough ball which is roughly the size of the palm of your hand. We want to roll our pizza out thinly so that it will cook quickly in the Neapolitan style, in the wood fired oven.
Your pizza dough should have risen quite a lot in the bowl in the fridge. Take it out of the fridge for around 30 minutes to come up to room temperature before you stretch or roll it out.
Tear off a piece of dough roughly the size of your palm (200g or so), and place it on a flat surface with some semolina or Tipo 00 flour.
Press your hands onto the dough and knead it for a few minutes.
If you are hand-stretching it lift the dough up and hold it at the edge with both hands to let it hang down. Now turn your dough counterclockwise so that you are pinching the crust the whole way round and the dough is stretching downwards.
See the video to help.
If you want to use a rolling pin for a thinner base, roll the dough out evenly and thinly until you have a 11 inch round pizza base.
You have probably seen pizza makers spin the dough around and catch it on the back of their hands. While it’s an entertaining thing to watch, it’s also useful in helping to form a crust, and shape your pizza base.
Try to pass the dough between your two hands and then throw it up and catch it on the back of your knuckles, if you can.
When you catch the dough on the back of your hand it means that the dough is stretching out from the middle as it hangs down around the sides. This helps to shape it.
Now you can add your tomato sauce to the top of your base.
Now you can add mozzarella cheese and any other toppings for your wood fired pizza.
The best way to experiment with your first wood fired pizza is to make a margarita to keep things simple.
If you feel confident you could try pepperoni, goat’s cheese and red onion, or another classic combination.
It’s really important at this point to put Tipo 00 or semolina flour on the base of your pizza, and on the paddle that you are using to place the pizza in the oven. Otherwise the base will definitely stick which can be disastrous!
Check that the base isn’t sticking to the paddle anywhere by moving it gently back and forwards.
If it is sticking lift the dough up a little and add more flour. Quite often it’s the middle of the pizza base that can stick. Check again to make sure the dough is moving back and forward without sticking.
Add the pizza sauce and some good quality mozzarella cheese (we like a mix of grated and torn up mozzarella balls), as well your toppings of choice.
How Do I Cook My Wood Fired Pizza?
You will need to put your pizza stone in your wood fired oven for a few minutes before you use it, so that it comes up to temperature.
It may be helpful to use an infrared temperature gun to make sure the stone is hot enough to cook the underside of your pizza.
The heat of your pizza stone will cook the base of your pizza so it needs to be hot.
The classic wood to use for wood fired pizza is organic oak wood, but you may wish to put a little apple or cherry wood in there for a subtle, mild and fruitier smoke flavour.
Your oven should be up to at least 400°C or 752°F.
Use a pizza paddle to transport your pizza to the oven, these are cheap and really useful. They also make sure your hands are nowhere near the fierce heat of the oven.
Gently shake your pizza off the paddle onto the hot pizza stone. The crust will rise quickly at the front of the pizza nearest the flame, make sure not to let it burn.
At this high heat we will need to turn the pizza every 10 seconds or so, to make sure it cooks evenly. You need to watch the pizza constantly to make sure it doesn’t catch fire or char too much.
Keep your pizza away from open flames and burning wood.
Take care to turn the pizza through 360° for a minute or so until the base and cheese are cooked evenly.
As with every art form practice makes perfect.
Check out our Instagram video of us using our Ooni Karu 12 to make awesome wood fired pepperoni pizza.
Tag us or leave comments to let us know you liked it!
Homemade Easy Pizza Ideas
You could serve your wood smoked pizza with some other delicious smoked foods such as mac and cheese, loaded fries, 321 smoked spare ribs, corn on the cob, or smoky chicken wings.
Trying Out Our New Ooni Karu 12 for the First Time!
Check us out on Instagram and tag us if you liked our recipes and videos. This is our wood fired pizza oven getting its first ever cook.
If you enjoyed this article on Wood Fired Pizza feel free to try some other articles on smoked foods.
Or our how to smoke burgers article.
Or our article on ‘Top Smoker Recipes.’
If you would like to try another great article on ‘Wood Fired Pizza,’ try here:
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