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How to fire your pizza oven
Starting a fire in your pizza oven is very similar to the pyramid method that you learnt back in your boy scout days, you will make your scout master proud.
First off, lets look at what type of wood to use.
Pizza Oven Wood
We need long burning hard wood, as it takes up to 3 hours to properly heat the pizza oven, but believe me, the effort and waiting is worth it. The pieces of wood should be about 10 to 12 inches (25 to 30 cm) long. It is important to always have flames going in your oven while baking the pizzas as it adds to the heat intensity.
We also need kindling to get the larger pieces of wood burning.
I prefer to start the fire just inside passed the opening, in the center of the oven. This makes it easier to stack the fire.
Later the whole fire structure will be pushed back into the center of the pizza oven, so bare that in mind when constructing the fire.
Building the fire structure
Place 2 large pieces of wood parralel to each other in the direction of the opening tunnel, so the gap in between will be facing you.
Between these place an odourless, non-toxic fire lighter.
Place 3 pieces of kindling perpendicular on top of the first pieces.
To the top of the structure, add 2 pieces of wood, perpendicular to the previous layer. Position these closer to the middle of the structure.
Add another 2 pieces of wood, perpendicular to the previous layer. This is enough wood for my size oven, bigger oven may require more layers.
Lighting the fire
Light the fire lighters.
Place a piece of wood in front of the fire structure. This must close the gap at the bottom and extend past the bottom pieces of the structure.
Once the larger pieces of wood are burning, use a suitable pole or stick to push the whole structure to the center of the oven.
Let this burn, but keep adding wood when necessary to make sure there is a substantial fire going.
Placing the fire in the center has an two fold advantage of heating the dome and the base (floor) of the pizza oven.
Finalising the fire
After about 20 – 30 minutes a white spot will start forming on the inside roof of the oven. This is an indication that the oven is heating up.
Start expanding the fire to the side of the dome, choose either the left or right side.
The flames will curl across the roof of the oven, helping the white spot spread, meaning its reaching cooking temperature.
The white area will basically spread across the dome, meaning the oven has reached about 700° Fahrenheit / 370° Celsius. This is perfect cooking.
Use a spade or suitable utensil to move the fire to your prefered side of the oven. Wipe the centre of the oven floor clean with a pizza oven mop or a damp cloth wrapped around your pizza peel.
Maintaining the fire
While baking pizza, monitor the flames, if they start to die out, add more pieces of wood. If they died out completely, add some kindling.
See the Lighting a fire in a Pizza Oven video.