Caffe Society: Pizza oven equipment guide

Many fine-dining pizzerias have their pizza oven on display as an advertisement of their pizza`s great taste and authenticity. Using your own pizza oven might well be the key to making the pizza you love and crave at home.

Several different kinds of pizza ovens exist on the market today. Each type comes with its own advantages and disadvantages.

Brick pizza oven

Brick pizza ovens are once again popular due to the green technology trend and the current back to nature movement. Brick pizza ovens have a brick exterior and a stone or ceramic tile deck on the bottom of the oven.

You slide the pizza inside using a wooden paddle and the radiating heat from the deck gives the pizza a nice, crispy crust. Brick pizza ovens use less power and offer faster cooking times than other kinds of ovens.

Another advantage of a brick oven is that it can maintain a steady temperature for hours. The simple construction of the oven means that it is easy to clean and has no moving, breakable parts.

Brick pizza ovens are typically cheaper than other kinds of ovens. However, these ovens aren`t ideal for beginners. It takes time to learn how to cook the pizzas and how to shuffle the pies so they cook evenly.

Another downside is that most brick pizza ovens tend to be fairly large. Apartment dwellers and homeowners with little kitchen space probably won`t be able to squeeze a full-sized brick oven into their homes.

Deck ovens

Deck ovens are rectangular cooking devices that offer up to six separate oven chambers. The food cooks directly inside the chamber on flat decks made from brick, stone or ceramic.

Deck ovens use oil, steam or combustion to heat the cooking components, which absorb the heat and radiate that heat back. This makes for a more even cooking temperature.

Deck ovens cook the pizza from the bottom up. This results in a crispy bottom crust and a golden-brown top.

Deck ovens are fairly inexpensive to purchase and maintain. However, you must rotate the pizzas during cooking to achieve an even bake. Every time you open the oven doors, heat escapes from the baking chamber. This means that deck ovens put out more heat than other types of ovens.

Another drawback includes the fact that they are harder to use than other types of ovens. Deck ovens also need up to 60 minutes to preheat before you can start using them.

Convection ovens

A convection oven consists of three individual heating elements going along the back, top and bottom of the cooking space. A fan forces the air to circulate the heat around the cooking area evenly and results in an even bake.

The forced air of a convection oven helps to reduce the overall cooking time, saves energy and allows roasted foods to retain more moisture. The circulating air also browns the outer layers of the pizza while keeping the internal dough layers light and moist.

The bad news is that there is a bit of a learning curve when you first start using a convection oven. Convection ovens might save you money in energy in the long run, but the units themselves are typically more expensive than standard ovens. Convection ovens also need to be cleaned after every use.

Conveyor ovens

A conveyor oven is basically a long oven with a conveyor belt inside. You place your pizza at one end of the belt and it carries your pie along the inside of the oven until it reaches the other side.

The main advantage of using a conveyor oven is its efficiency. The pizzas cook evenly and for the exact, specified amount of time as they move along the belt and through the oven. Conveyor ovens also heat up in only 15 to 20 minutes and cool down easily once you turn the oven off.

The main disadvantage of a conveyor oven is that it is a relatively complicated piece of machinery. This means that it is prone to unexpected breakdowns and is typically hard to clean. Conveyor ovens are also larger and more expensive than other types of ovens.

If your catering company is becoming known for its fabulous pizzas, perhaps it is time to invest in a pizza oven of your own. Look for special deals offered by reputable catering equipment companies such as www.cs-catering-equipment.co.uk.