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Author Topic: Wood-burning vs. Gas ?  (Read 3934 times)

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Offline ExPat Steve

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Wood-burning vs. Gas ?
« on: July 21, 2014, 04:16:52 AM »
Iím curious to know other opinions on the subject of having a wood-burning pizza oven verses one that is gas-fired.

My brother in Northern California hired a mason, bought plans and built a beautiful brick wood-burning oven.  It is a focal point in the setting, beautiful to behold and it makes great pizza.  The only problem is that it gets very little use.  It takes too much lead-time, firing the oven in the morning to bake off in the evening.

So when I decided to buy a pizza oven, I did my research and decided on a commercial (restaurant grade) oven from Italy, gas fired.   It is in an outdoor, covered kitchen and is plumbed to the domestic gas supply.  I have the electric thermostat set to 350 degrees Celsius (approximately 660 degrees Fahrenheit) and when I want to bake, I just need to turn on the oven 30 minutes in advance. 

I use the oven regularly, twice a week or more, and have done so for three years.  The pizzas are, in my mind, very good, maybe lacking a certain flavor element a wood-burning oven gives, but very good nonetheless.  And in terms of practicality, there is no comparison.

Iím sure that my brother paid as much in labor and materials as I paid for my oven.  So for purposes of this discussion, letís assume no price difference.

This may be heresy to die-hard, wood-burning oven folks, but Iíd make the same choice of a gas-fired, electric ignition oven if I had to do it all over again.

Any thoughts?

Offline barryvabeach

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Re: Wood-burning vs. Gas ?
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2014, 07:23:05 AM »
It is hard to argue with not having to buy wood, build a fire, let the heat soak into a WFO , then move the embers and cook the pizza.  For those that like the WFO experience, I am sure they enjoy those steps, if you just want a good pizza, I am with you , gas works pretty well.

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Wood-burning vs. Gas ?
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2014, 08:47:45 AM »
but Iíd make the same choice of a gas-fired, electric ignition oven if I had to do it all over again.

It doesn't reall sound like you are so sure about that from your question. It kind of sounds like you are trying to convince yourself that you made the right decision, and you may very well have, or is there another point to the question?
 
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Offline ExPat Steve

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Re: Wood-burning vs. Gas ?
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2014, 08:17:33 AM »
I really and truly would do gas again, given the choice.

Offline Twisted Brick

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Re: Wood-burning vs. Gas ?
« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2014, 04:06:07 PM »
I'm into my second hundred or so pizzas into my brick oven which took me three years to build.  I routinely find free local firewood on Craigslist and have learned to fire the oven to 750-850F inside of two hours, while I simultaneously attend to other household/yard tasks.

What I particularly like is that with the door on, the oven stays hot for five days, and it takes zero additional heat up time to cook whole chickens, multiple pulled pork shoulders, pot roast, turkey, lasagna, etc.

Call me old-school, but I have never wanted to own an outdoor gas BBQ.  After many years of grilling/barbecuing family meals on oak and fruitwood, I'll stick with fire.

Just my opinion.

John

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Offline shuboyje

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Re: Wood-burning vs. Gas ?
« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2014, 07:54:59 PM »
This is really like comparing apples and oranges.  Your gas deck oven cannot do what a wood oven does best, bake at extremely high temperatures.  A wood oven cannot do what your gas oven does best, bake at a higher temperature then your home oven but still do it easily and quickly. 

If you are willing to run a gas line, lose lots of ambiance, and limit yourself to 650F then a gas oven like yours is the way to go.

If you are a pyromaniac or a Neapolitan fanatic and nothing less then a 900F oven will suit your needs, a wood oven is a no brainer.  In my opinion you also gain a ton of ambiance and cool factor in the process.
-Jeff

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Wood-burning vs. Gas ?
« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2014, 08:10:30 PM »
If you are a pyromaniac or a Neapolitan fanatic and nothing less then a 900F oven will suit your needs, a wood oven is a no brainer.

Or perhaps a little bit of both  >:D
"We make great pizza, with sourdough when we can, baker's yeast when we must, but always great pizza."  
Craig's Neapolitan Garage

Offline Tscarborough

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Re: Wood-burning vs. Gas ?
« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2014, 09:36:51 PM »
Yeah, even as someone who runs his WFO roughly in the temp range you do I am going to go with wood.  Don't get me wrong, I would love to have both, but given the choice of either, I will take the WFO.  I have and use a gas grill, but it is used about 10% of the time VS the charcoal grill.

If you are going Neapolitan, then there really is no option (speaking to the oven you bought, gas assist ovens can certainly get to Neapolitan temps and times) for a WFO.

It is a moot point, if it works for you, then that is the best choice.

Offline brianw

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Re: Wood-burning vs. Gas ?
« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2014, 10:18:32 PM »
I have a natural gas grill, an electric smoker, and a wfo, it only takes a half hour to heat up and I am given  drums of scrap hardwoods for free. I would consider a gas oven a good option for a second oven. I think it would be exact.

Brian

Offline ExPat Steve

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Re: Wood-burning vs. Gas ?
« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2014, 12:06:51 PM »
Thanks for the comments, I'm new here, so nice to share info.
This gas oven has a regulator which will shut it off when it gets to 450C (840F), so it can go higher than I have it set.
But I'm burning my pizza at over 650F.
Why?

PS. I have an old fashioned Weber kettle and only grill over charcoal and vines.

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Offline Tscarborough

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Re: Wood-burning vs. Gas ?
« Reply #10 on: July 23, 2014, 12:17:44 PM »
You would probably have to alter your dough to go higher.  I like 750F on the walls 650f on the floor for a 2-3 minute pizza.

Offline ExPat Steve

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Re: Wood-burning vs. Gas ?
« Reply #11 on: July 23, 2014, 12:37:04 PM »
How would I alter the dough? More or less wet?

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Wood-burning vs. Gas ?
« Reply #12 on: July 23, 2014, 12:39:19 PM »
But I'm burning my pizza at over 650F.
Why?

Burning on the top, bottom, or both?

How long are you baking a pie at 650F?
"We make great pizza, with sourdough when we can, baker's yeast when we must, but always great pizza."  
Craig's Neapolitan Garage

Offline ExPat Steve

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Re: Wood-burning vs. Gas ?
« Reply #13 on: July 23, 2014, 12:59:16 PM »
If I bump up the thermostat to 400C, or 750F, the bottom burns before the top is cooked.
00 Italian flour, 65% hydration.  And I do add a tablespoon of olive oil to the 500 grams of flour, 325grams of water.

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Wood-burning vs. Gas ?
« Reply #14 on: July 23, 2014, 01:23:08 PM »
It sounds like the deck is too conductive for higher temperatures. Do you know what it is made from? Putting something like a FibramentD deck over the existing deck might be an option.
"We make great pizza, with sourdough when we can, baker's yeast when we must, but always great pizza."  
Craig's Neapolitan Garage

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Offline ExPat Steve

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Re: Wood-burning vs. Gas ?
« Reply #15 on: July 24, 2014, 01:11:13 AM »
Thanks Craig,
I don't know exactly what the material is, but it looks like a traditional pizza stone material.  I was thinking about putting another layer over it.  I have unglazed terracotta tiles, hand forged in a wood-burning kiln, thick and 6x6 inch.  I thought about putting 4 - 6 of those in a larger square.

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