The Neapolitan wood-burning oven was first used by the Egyptians of the early civilisations. Made with clay from the Nile, the fantastic invention gave the people the chance to cook their food, most probably for the first time.
The structure of the early oven was different compared to the familiar ones we see today. In fact, the antiquated oven was split into two – the hob, and underneath was the space for burning the wood to heat the oven.
The Romans introduced some changes to this discovery by the Egyptians. Using their skill in building arches, the Romans developed and applied the same system to the inside of the oven’s design, resulting in an arc or dome-shaped structure. This familiar form has remained unchanged until today.
Now how is a Neapolitan wood-burning oven constructed?
The basic structure of an artisan Neapolitan wood-burning oven consists of the base, and the dome. The base is typically a manufactured steel base filled with clay and sand from the sea. The sand is then covered with another thin layer of clay, then finally covered with refractory brown bricks called “biscuit of Sorrento.”
Once the bricks are laid, a thin layer of plaster is applied between the bricks that form the oven hob, giving the bricks a small space to expand when they are subjected to intensive heat, otherwise, the bricks will split or crack.
Meanwhile, the arc-shaped dome of a Neapolitan wood-burning oven is built separately. Its size is patterned after the diameter of the oven’s base, and is usually made with the bricks of “Santa Maria”- large refractory bricks, that don’t allow the heat to escape.
An important consideration that characterises the dome is the size of its mouth. Ideally, it should be small enough for the oven to contain, and not easily disperse the heat.
Once the dome is formed, the brick is covered with cement, and a thin layer of insulating material is applied in between. Again, this is done to enable the oven to contain and not easily lose heat.
Campania is the last remaining region of Italy that continues to produce the handmade traditional Artisan Neapolitan wood-burning ovens. It is a craft that requires special skills, utilising materials in the region and following specific characteristics.
Why the Neapolitan wood-burning oven?
There are a number of reasons why I prefer, and would recommend, the Neapolitan wood-burning oven to make your perfect pizza.
For one, I grew up with it as my forefathers did, and trust me on this – a real Neapolitan pizza can only be authentic if it is made using a wood-burning oven!
Neapolitan Wood-burning ovens are better that modern, conventional ones since they are capable of sustaining higher temperatures and spreading the heat evenly inside. A metal oven simply can’t do that.
While a metal oven cannot generate or retain sufficient heat in excess of, say 500 degrees, a wood-burning oven can very well do so and radiates the heat evenly inside its walls. The wood-burning oven’s capability to retain heat at longer periods of time also comes in handy especially if you are preparing many pizzas at the shortest possible time. Lastly, they simply enhance the flavour and quality of the pizza – cooking it to perfection.
To have a perfectly-cooked pizza, your oven should have the ideal capacity of six to seven pizzas. If your oven can cook for more than that, it usually means it has a bigger “mouth” which requires more wood. An oven with a big mouth or opening consequently looses a lot of heat and therefore you will be constantly in need of more wood, wasting your money! I’m sure none of us would want that. Also, if your oven has a bigger capacity, the pizzas that are cooked close to the “mouth” of the oven will require more time to cook -therefore lessens the quality, and alters the ideal characteristics of perfect pizzas. Now days, you can get traditional wood-burn neapolitan pizza with special price by using little caesars coupon code.