Wood firing on three cylinders

While I still have a lot to learn, things have been improving on the pizza and other fronts, as I’ve fired up the oven a few times. The gallery below shows some of my efforts.

It takes about half an hour for the floor of the oven to get hot enough. This is actually a reasonable amount of time, if you plan your day right. Light the fire, get it going, and then start getting your shit together in the kitchen. There are also a range of things you can use the oven for at different temperatures, so with a well-planned campaign, you could get a lot done. And the amazing thing is, the Alfa oven seems to be really efficient, so that you can get an awful lot done with what is essentially one hardwood log.

When the oven is at its hottest, obviously, is when you want to cook pizza. As it cools, you could cook some chicken pieces – or even a spatchcocked chicken – for lunch the following day. As it cools further, a loaf of bread or some rolls. And finally, as if that wasn’t enough, you could cook a quiche or a custard (prepare the blind-baked base in advance, obvs.).

I noticed that some of the pros lift the pizza up towards the end of the cooking, raising it to the top part of the oven. The tool they use for this is a pizza turning peel, which is different from the one you use to shove the pizza into the oven. It’s a small, round paddle, which allows you to expose more of the base to direct heat. Of course, while standard pizza peels are available at a range of prices, these speciality peels tend to come in more expensive. I found one on Amazon for £79, which is, well, a bit much. And then there’s the Alfa Accessory kit, which I don’t know how much it costs, but it might be about £140 for a set of four tools. *sigh* Not in my immediate future after blowing the bank on the oven itself.

But my pizzas are getting better. I’ve been pretty pleased with them, and the person in my household who has actual taste buds reports that they taste great, with pleasant smoky notes. Here’s the gallery:

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