If you're looking for a pizza oven for your backyard, you'll need to decide between steel and brick.
You might just guess, but if you don't know the difference, your pizza-making experience will always be marred by the nagging suspicion that you picked the wrong oven. Thankfully, we're here to allay your fears by providing you with all of the knowledge you'll need to select the best pizza oven material for your needs.
What’s the difference?
Let's look at both types of ovens and their advantages and disadvantages before we address this issue : which oven creates better pizza.
Brick pizza ovens
Thermal mass and retained heat are the foundations of a classic brick pizza oven. Simply said, when you ignite a fire in a brick pizza oven, the heat is absorbed by the oven's structure, stored, then reflected during the cooking process.
Because bricks have a large thermal mass, which is the ability of a material to absorb and store heat energy, they are ideal for cooking.
It takes a long time and a lot of energy to adequately heat a brick oven. When it reaches cooking temperature, the heat from the fire cooks the pizza foundation from below, while the heat held and emitted by the bricks cooks the toppings, providing high temperatures and uniform cooking.
The typical dome on top of a pizza oven aids the process by reflecting heat back down onto the pizza's surface.
All of this wonderful thermal mass, however, comes with two major downsides. For first, as previously stated, brick pizza ovens take a long time to reach the 330°C (625°F) claimed by Italian pizzaiolos as the ideal temperature for cooking pizza.
Depending on the size of your oven, a pre-heat period of 30 to 60 minutes may be required.
Second, brick is not your friend if you're looking for a portable pizza oven. Because of their massive weight, brick ovens are best used as permanent structures.
Many brick ovens will also require a curing phase, which entails burning gradually larger fires over a few days to completely drive any moisture out of the bricks and prevent breaking.
You should also protect your brick oven from the weather, since moisture and freezing temperatures can erode the brickwork and produce enough thermal stress to crack the oven when it's fired up.
Stainless steel ovens work on heat reflection rather than thermal mass like brick ovens do. Steel is a good heat reflector and conductor because it heats up quickly.
Steel ovens do not require curing, so you can buy one in the afternoon and have it cooking by dinnertime. They also heat up quickly. Steel does not have a high thermal mass, therefore it cools down quickly in exchange for that aspect of instant pleasure.
Because of the rapid cooling, you may need to warm the oven slightly between pizzas or risk the base and toppings cooking at separate rates. The good thing is that reheating is a short process.
Steel is perhaps the best option for a portable pizza oven. Your steel pizza oven, unlike brick ovens, does not have to be a permanent fixture in your yard.
Many stainless steel pizza ovens have a movable base that allows them to be quickly pulled back into a covered area or garage to keep them safe from the elements. Smaller stainless steel countertop pizza ovens, such as the Ooni Pro multi fuel oven, are also available.
Steel ovens are easy to transport and are ideal if you don't have a lot of time to completely preheat your oven, but they lack the aesthetics of a classic brick oven.
Which kind of pizza oven wins?
Cooking pizza in a simple oven with wood as a fuel source is an inherently unreliable procedure. Different types of wood, different pizza flours, and different oven types introduce so many variables that it's impossible to say one construction material is superior than another.
Even though they're both cooked in the same oven, a semolina pizza made in a brick oven over beechwood in Texas and a 00 flour pizza cooked over maple in Vermont will taste very different.
However, there are two important considerations to consider while deciding between steel and brick.
The first factor is convenience.
|Brick ovens take longer to heat up, require curing before cooking, and require additional weather protection.You won't be taking them to a friend's BBQ without a JCB, either.||
Steel ovens heat up rapidly, may be used the same day they are delivered, and some even have wheels for convenient transport. As a result, a steel oven is clearly the more practical solution.
The second factor is consistency.
|Steel ovens lose heat almost as quickly as they gain it, so you won't be able to shovel a street party's worth of pizzas through it without reheating.||
Steel ovens lose heat almost as quickly as they gain it,
so you won't be able to shovel a street party's worth of pizzas through it without reheating.
To summarize everything. For someone with enough time and patience to deal with their long preheat time and enough hungry mouths to desire to prepare a lot of pizzas, brick ovens make an ideal permanent installation.
Some individuals prefer the rustic look of brick ovens to the more modern lines of most steel ovens.
Steel ovens are ideal for taking out on a sunny day and then putting back in when you're finished. They heat up quickly, allowing for more immediate pizza satisfaction, but they also cool quickly, making bulk pizza cooking a longer and more fiddly procedure than with a brick oven.
If one of those features appeals to you and your needs, then this is the pizza oven for you!
We'd love to hear about your pizza oven, whether it's made of brick or steel, in the comments area below.