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First let me say, that if you have decided to get a pizza oven at home, then you have made a very good decision. Pizza ovens are one of the best things for outdoor cooking that you can buy… or build. I have built a pizza oven from scratch and loved, both the process of building it and cooking with it. However, if I was to get a pizza oven in my garden again, I would seriously consider buying a pizza oven and not building one.
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Pizza Ovens in the UK.
We would probably all agree that the weather in the UK can be somewhat changeable and eating outside can be a bit of a hit and miss affair. Even the die-hard BBQers have been known to stand out in the rain with an umbrella willing the sausages to colour up so they can whip them into the oven to finish them off!
Although Gas BBQs are ready to cook on pretty quickly, the food takes the same time to cook… and that will seem a very long time if its Pi**ing with rain or blowing a gale and that is one of the main advantages to owning a pizza oven in UK. Cooking pizza is very quick, whether the oven is bought or built, a pizza should cook in under two minutes!
Building a Pizza Oven in the UK
If you are anything like me, you will be doing your research and I did lots and lots of research when I decided to build a pizza oven. I found an invaluable book called “Your Brick Oven” By Russell Jeavons, which I read cover to cover, several times! The book has more about the construction and materials than actual design. The design, of course, is up to you and all part of the fun, you will probably never find two brick pizza ovens the same.
Before you bomb down to Jewsons and load the car with bricks, there are few pointers that might be worth considering, if you are going to build your very own brick pizza oven.
How much do Pizza Ovens Cost to Build?
The average cost of building a pizza oven yourself is £500. If you do not expect to do the work yourself and employ a bricklayer to build the pizza oven, you could add another £800 – £1000 in labour. Bricks are the bulk of the cost, it is surprising how many bricks you will need.
Just for the record, you don’t need to use fire bricks. Old bricks are best as they are denser than modern made bricks. You want to minimise air gaps in the bricks so don’t try and get away with those cheap light bricks that have a “V” shape in the top! Air expands when it heats up, so any gaps or air pockets can cause the oven to crack or worst case implode!
You will need to build a sturdy base with concrete blocks. Brick ovens are extremely heavy so the base you build on will need to be very strong and the concrete will probably need to be reinforced with a metal grid.
When building the actual oven, mix the cement with Hydrated lime, this will help the cement cope with the high heat that pizza ovens can reach, this can be in excess of 500 degrees Celsius.
Finally, if you are going to the trouble of building the pizza oven, make sure you insulate it probably. I built a dome brick oven, then covered the whole dome with a few layers of loft insulation, held down by chicken wire, then topped off with a layer of cement to give the whole dome the finished look. The advantage of adding this extra layer of insulation is to retain as much heat in the oven as you can, for as long as you can.
How to Cook in a Pizza Oven
Originally these ovens were built to bake bread. The pizzas were just a by-product of the bread-making process. The pizzas were cooked first and fast, with the high initial heat from the oven, using leftover dough from the bread preparation.
As the temperature dropped in the oven, the bread would be cooked. Then finally, as the temperature really fell off, the meringues could be put in to cook and slowly dry, to a crunchy gooey texture. Sounds like a pretty good days cooking and eating doesn’t it?!
The Pros and Cons of Building a Pizza Oven.
- Oven stays hot for many hours.
- More cooking space.
- Cook different meals
- It’s not portable.
- Expensive to build.
- Uses up a lot of space.
- Takes time to heat up
Buying a Pizza Oven in The UK
You have read through the pros and cons of building a pizza oven and if you have space, time and money, then building one will be a lifetime achievement! BUT, before you set to and trash the garden, consider the merits of buying a pizza oven first.
Firstly, I didn’t expect to move house but my home life changed and the house had to go on the market. Both my daughter and I were pretty disappointed that the new owners were going to benefit from all our hard work and be able to cook very tasty pizza.
Self-built pizza ovens are large! even the smallest one is going to take up a 4ft x 4ft square. They take up this much room because the ovens are heavy and need a substantial base. Additionally, whether you choose a traditional dome shape or tunnel design, both require insulation and this can amount to nearly 10 inches of wall thickness all over… Now that needs some space!
Time is precious these days and portable pizza ovens are extremely quick to heat up. Some pizza ovens on the market heat up in under 15 minutes, compared to that of a self build brick oven at a couple of hours.
Buying a pizza oven means you can not only take it with you if you move house but it also means you could take it with you to a friend’s house if they are planning an outdoor party and the Ooni karu portable pizza oven fits the bill perfectly.
The Pros and Cons of Buying a Pizza Oven.
- Comparably cheap to buy.
- Fast to heat up.
- Very Portable, take it to a friend’s house.
- You can take it with you when you move house.
- Small cooking space
- No Kudos for building it yourself!
Are Ooni Pizza Ovens any Good?
The real reason for building an authentic pizza oven in your garden is to create wood smoked, brick baked authentic restaurant-quality pizza. Well, that’s exactly the pizzas Ooni pizza ovens can create, with a little help from you. They range from the cheapest oven at £229 to the pro model which slips off the peel at £499 for the Pro version.
Apart from the very modern stylish design, these pizza ovens give the closest authentic pizza outside Italy. I haven’t yet found a bad review of these impressive pizza ovens. Ooni created the world’s first pellet pizza oven back in 2012 and has been perfecting its ovens ever since. They are fast too, heating up in just under 15 minutes you could be actually eating a pizza in under 20 minutes! Quicker than a kitchen oven.
One great advantage of the Ooni pizza oven range is the ability to convert the ovens to use either propane gas or wood pellets. The ovens heat up in the same time but if you are short of time, using gas means there is minimal soot and ash to clear up.
Cooking pizza is not the only food you can cook in the oven. Roasted vegetables and roasted meats get a gorgeous smokey flavour when cooked in a wood-fired oven. If you would like the option of cooking other meals, check the size of the opening of the pizza oven. The largest size opening in an Ooni oven is just over 6.1″ so enough to slide in a roast chicken or slow roast a leg of lamb. However, the smaller ovens have an opening of just over 3″, so a baking tray of vegetables might just make it through the door.
There is a useful comparison table at Ooni.com to help you choose which pizza oven is best for you.
What Alternative Pizza Ovens are available?
Of course, Ooni pizza ovens are not the only pizza ovens on the market. You can pick up some great deals on top-notch brands like Clementi, Igneus and Delivita at thepizzaovenshop.com. You might also grab a second-hand pizza oven on eBay.co.uk
Which Wood is Best for a Pizza Oven?
You can use any wood in your pizza oven. However, some woods are better than others. For example, the wood might burn hotter or with less smoke. Whichever wood you decide to use, try to make sure it is as dry as possible and doesn’t contain sap or resin. If you want to be completely organic, Silver Birch tree bark makes perfect firefighters!
- Kiln Dried Wood. Super low moisture content burns very hot.
- FirePower Wood Pellets.
- Seasoned hardwood e.g. Oak, Ash, Birch and Sycamore.
- Try not to use Cherry, Yew, Pine or conifers in your pizza oven because of the sap or resinous content could make a mess of the pizza oven floor and produce excess tar in the flue.
Where can I get Pizza Oven Wood Pellets Quickly?
Online suppliers of wood pellets will do their best to get wood pellets to you as quickly as possible. If you have amazon prime you will be able to get wood the next day or if you live in a large city… The same day!
Can I Use a Pizza Oven Indoors?
The simple answer is NO. Using a pizza oven inside is extremely dangerous. All pizza ovens should be used outside where the fumes can escape.