Pizza: wood-fired or electric oven?

In this article we talk about pizza. Pizza is one of the Italian excellence, moreover the only Italian product recognized as STG (Traditional Speciality Guaranteed) by MIPAAF (the Ministry for Agricultural, Environmental and Forestry Policies) that the whole world knows and envies us. Also, you can choose what best pizza oven for business for you.

But pizzas, as we well know, are not all the same. There are pizzas seasoned differently, with more or less pasta, which changes the taste. But with the same dough, seasoning and manual skill of those who made the pizza, it is the type of pizza cooking that makes the ultimate difference.

Pizza, to be eaten, must always be cooked, and we all know this. There are various ways to cook it. Among the most common are the electric oven, such as the one we have at home, and the wood-burning oven, which someone may have in the garden but which we most commonly find in restaurants and pizzerias.

What differences do the wood-burning oven and the electric oven make when baking pizza?

The difference in the final taste depends on several factors: the first is the temperature reached, the second is the presence of wood, which is often not thought about but which can really make the difference. But let’s go into more detail.

The temperature

The energy that is transmitted to the food by the combustion of wood or – in the other case – by the electric rise in the temperature of the oven heating elements, increases the general temperature of the cooking chamber. By how much? Much less in the electric oven than in the wood-burning oven. This is due to the fact that the combustion of organic material provides much higher temperatures (at a much lower cost, moreover), which can reach 400-500 degrees, to the cooking chamber; the electric oven, instead, reaches a maximum of 200 degrees.

The crunchiness of pizza

Now, 200 degrees is more than enough to cook any kind of food. But the typical effect of Pizza Napoletana, which is our excellence, can only be achieved if we have a much higher temperature: the heat, in fact, does not penetrate well into a dough of water and flour like that of pizza. On the contrary, it penetrates very badly into the internal parts.

For this reason the external parts will heat up very quickly, draining their water and becoming dry, therefore crunchy; the internal parts, instead, will not have the necessary heat and will cook less, remaining soft.

In the electric oven, on the other hand, the temperature is lower, and the pizza takes longer to become crunchy on the outside; this gives the heat to get inside the dough for longer, and bake the internal parts, which also become crunchy.

The choice of wood

The second difference is the wood that is used. The electric oven provides so to speak “sterile” heat, i.e. pure thermal energy, without any substance. In the wood combustion process, on the other hand, substances are released that are the product of the flame, which can also be seen with the naked eye: they are blackish substances, in the form of smoke. Most of these, which are organic substances to all intents and purposes, even if burnt, are conveyed outside the environment with the flue, but a part also remains in the cooking chamber, conveyed together with the heat. These substances will settle on the pizza, becoming an integral part of it.

From here we can see how the choice of wood becomes important for the pizza: even if it is not an ingredient in the canonical sense, in fact it becomes one, because the quality of the combustion products will substantially change the final taste of the pizza, as well as its aroma.

The good pizza chef is therefore not only the one who knows how to make pizza dough well, how to roll it out and how to season it; but he is also the one who, during cooking, knows how to manage the flame, how to keep the temperature of the cooking chamber constant (the electric oven does it automatically) but above all he knows how to choose the wood to use. In this regard, among the most recommended is olive wood.