The Best Tools for Your Wood-Fired Oven
During a visit to a beautiful old church in southern Sweden I spotted a set of pizza oven wood peels in a corner only to be told that “no, those are for collecting donations”. Too bad, they would have made gorgeous pizza oven peels.
My mental list of antique peels includes those in the Putnam Park museum in Connecticut. Forged in metal they were used for baking bread to feed the revolutionary army. Would love to have those too.
The same museum showcases a colonial wood burning oven in brick, similar to the ones made by Italian immigrants hundred years later in New York. Pizza quickly became the national favorite food… and it should have that wood fired flavor of a real Italian pizza!
Although the shape of oven tools have not really changed much throughout the years, the materials have. Stainless steel, for example, doesn’t rust, it’s easy to clean, and can be shaped thin so it is used for the round pizza turning peel because you can slide it easily under a pizza pie or a bread. Pizza oven tools all have very long handles so that they can reach in the hot wood burning oven.
The wood peels are used to garnish pizza pies or assemble bread loaves on and then slide onto the hot oven floor. It’s a good idea to buy a wide wood peel, at least 12″, to accommodate a big pizza pie. If you are a beginner, use plenty of corn meal so that your dough doesn’t stick onto the peel; with time and experience you will be able to get by with just a dusting of flour.
Other must-have tools are the ash stick and the floor brush. You will need them to prep the oven for baking after the fire has been reduced to embers and ash. This is the time when the oven is super hot and absorbing heat for later gradual release as you cook. Use the ash stick to move the embers to the right or left side of the pizza oven. Wait 10 to 15 minutes and then sweep the floor with a natural bristle brush in a sideway motion to rid the floor of ash residue. I like a natural bristle brush instead of a metal brush because it is gentler on the floor and also, more importantly, a wayward bristle won’t make it into the food, rather it will just burn off.
A hand held laser thermometer is something very useful around the wood burning oven, because it gives you a very accurate read anywhere inside the hot oven while standing at a safe distance.
Keep your tools dry, clean, and ready to cook! Let me know how it goes…
Buon appetito from us here at Los Angeles Ovenworks.