Pizza cooking in a wood fired pizza oven

The History and Culture of Wood-Fired Pizzas

Pizza is a staple in many households around the world and we at Walker Landscape and Design can simply never get enough of the stuff. The versatility and convenience of pizza ensures that this dish is not going to go out of fashion anytime soon. Did you know that in 2022, pizza was the UK’s most ordered takeaway?

As much as we all love an American style pizza delivered directly to our door, nothing beats the taste of an authentic homemade pizza made in your own pizza oven. We predict more and more households will invest in a pizza oven in 2023, especially as these ovens are able to cook a diverse range of dishes. Whether you are trying to reduce your takeaway consumption, want to add a touch of luxury to your pizza obsession or you are looking for a way to involve the kids with cooking more – a pizza oven is perfect for you.

With pizza ovens much more accessible for UK households, we want to take a look at the history and culture of wood-fired pizza. Read on to find out more about this delicious dish.

The history of pizza

The origin of wood-fired pizza is hard to pinpoint, however there are records of ancient civilisations adding ingredients to bread. By the 16th century in Naples, a Galette flat bread was referred to as a pizza. At this time, pizza was considered street food and not something you would find in a restaurant kitchen. The first pizzeria ‘The Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba was founded in 1738 and is still in operation today.

Until the end of the 18th century, pizza was usually a sweet dish rather than savoury and Europeans reportedly feared the tomato was poisonous. In 1889 the Margherita pizza was born when a Neapolitan pizza maker created a pizza topped with tomatoes, mozzarella and basil, inspired by the Italian flag for the Queen Consort of Italy: Margherita of Savoy.

wood fired pizza oven
Bread baked in a wood fired pizza oven

What is a wood-fired pizza oven?

A wood-fired pizza oven is a type of masonry oven. A masonry oven is an oven made from stone or brick with a baking chamber made from stone, clay, brick or concrete. Traditionally, masonry ovens are fired by wood or coal, and more recently natural gas has been used with masonry ovens.

The DeliVita wood-fired pizza oven is handcrafted clay-composite with a refractory stone base, for quick and efficient heating to produce tasty pizzas. The materials used in Alfa pizza ovens varies between the models, but all are made from certified clay with a steel dome.

Where did wood-fire pizza ovens come from?

Wood-fired pizza ovens date back to BC – despite modern pizza, as we know it not today, not being created until the 18th century. Prior to being used specifically for pizza, wood-fired ovens were used for baking bread and it was this that laid the foundation for the crispy crusts we know and love with our pizza. In Northern Europe, their ovens would be very large and usually owned by the Lord of the area who would charge locals to use the oven to bake their bread, whereas in Italy the ovens tended to be smaller, which allowed more families to have access to their own pizza oven.

What are the different types of pizza ovens?

For wood-fired ovens specifically, there are two types: “black ovens” and “white ovens”. A “black oven” is heated by burning the wood inside the chamber next to the food you’re cooking, whereas, a “white oven” is heated by transfer from a separate chamber.

Both types of oven consist of an oven floor, dome and entry. However, a “black oven” will require sweeping ashes away and the cooking chamber of a “white oven” remains free from ash. The DeliVita that we stock at Walker Landscape and Design is a wood-fired black oven, and the Alfa range we stock vary between models.

Shop DeliVita Pizza Ovens at Walker Landscape and Design
DeliVita Pizza Ovens

How do modern wood-fired pizza ovens differ from traditional?

Pizza ovens differ from modern ovens as they don’t remain at a constant cooking temperate, instead the oven is heated during the firing stage where it will then remain hot for hours due to the insulation.

Modern-day pizza ovens with insulating materials came about during the 1990s which hugely increased the popularity of cooking via wood-fired ovens, in part due to the modern ovens having the ability to heat-up quicker than traditional ovens and their ability to retain the heat for longer. There is great variation between different models of pizza ovens, and many brands have emerged with their own take on this classic wood-fired oven. We stock two brands of pizza oven at Walker Landscape and Design, and we think they have perfectly blended the culture of pizza ovens with the convenience of modern day technology.

DeliVita are a UK based company who have created a pizza oven without a chimney, therefore furthering your pizza making opportunities by offering a portable oven that can be taken on holiday, to the park or round your neighbours. Whereas, Alfa pizza ovens are made just outside of Rome for the authentic taste of Italy in your back garden. From effortless DeliVita to the luxury Alfa range – we have a pizza oven to match your requirements. Get in touch with us to talk to us about how much you love pizza.

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