One more practical situation which provided me with a great deal of experience was the choice of an optimal pizza oven for one of the establishments of the “Uncle Pizza” chain.
In 2015 we planned a big reconstruction of the premise where the family café “Uncle Pizza” (Lutsk, Voli Avenue, 4v) had been successfully functioning for 3 years. Together with the work on the premise, we organized an upgrade of the chain concept as well.
We wanted some new and fresh idea so we developed a special concept of a family eco-café with our own flour production and even our own growing of durum wheat! But that’s not the point at the moment.
Our main culinary weapon is pizza. We wanted to remake the old recipe of dough as well as to improve the quality and baking speed.
It’s natural, that in order to solve the second problem we needed to clarify the question with the oven. In my practice I dealt with firewood, coal (or briquette), electric and even gas ovens.
The most widespread variants are firewood and electric ovens. So, what is better? Which one to install? With this and many other questions in our mind we headed to the professional equipment exhibition EXPOMILAN 2015.
FIREWOOD or ELECTRICITY
To argue about pizza baked on wood or electricity is the same as to argue about what is better: BMW or MERCEDES…Of course, that the quality and taste of dough, the recipe of filling come first.
Baking in this or that oven adds only a certain tint of taste and entourage, that’s why each kind of oven has its own pros and cons.
Firewood oven, of course, provides more entourage. It is usually placed right in the sales area and turns the process of cooking into a show. Baking in firewood oven provides pizza with an incredible scent of smoke, that can’t be compared to any other oven. Baking in firewood oven takes place at the temperature 400 degrees of centigrade and everything goes fast.
At the exhibition I saw some interesting modifications of firewood oven with baking chambers where several pizzas turn in a circle on a stone platter and are baked evenly.
However, if you want to keep the temperature in a classic firewood oven, you have to make a small inner baking chamber and it is impossible to make more that 3 or 4 32 cm pizzas simultaneously.
One more evident drawback of a wood oven is that you must reach a certain temperature and keep it even when the occupancy rate is not very high. And that, of course, increases the consumption of firewood.
The specialist who is going to make your firewood oven is also of a great importance. The most important criterion here is the ability to keep the necessary temperature. A well formed inner dome makes up to 90% of the success.
So, if you choose the variant of a firewood oven, you should consider buying modern factory modification where everything has been tested.
In our case, the firewood oven was not suitable. There were several reasons for that: the assortment of our café includes 20, 32, 50 cm pizzas. Each diameter requires its own time and temperature of baking. If 5 minutes are enough for a 32 cm pizza will be well baked, that won’t be enough for a 50 cm pizza and make a 20 cm pizza be overdried and burnt.
We were not satisfied with the productivity of wood ovens (only 4 simultaneously). We have a lot of guests so we need to bake 8-10 simultaneously.
Besides, “Uncle Pizza” is a chan. Pizza has to be same everywhere. And one of our cafés is located in a semi-basement. The use of ovens with open fire in places like that is forbidden by the State Emergency Service rules.
So, the choice is evident – we are looking for an electric oven.
ELECTRIC OVENS for pizza
The greatest advantages of electric ovens are their high productivity and simplicity of their installation and exploitation.
The biggest drawback is the high electricity consumption. We managed to find the variant that considerably saved the electricity consumption.
What should you pay attention to while choosing an oven? We are going to talk about it in detail.
The limits of the electric power capacity in your premises. The mistake that often takes place while planning. A designer makes a plan of a kitchen, a supplier offers some equipment, but there is no responsible person who would check if everything is going to work during rush hours.
Pizza oven is the most power consuming part of any pizzeria kitchen. The average power of a single chamber oven is 5 kW, and up to 10 kW for a two chamber oven.
Sum up the power consumption of the whole equipment and check if you are not going to have a breakout during an important event.
The number of chambers. As a rule, the price of a single chamber oven and a two chamber oven differs by 30 %. But not at all twice. And the productivity is twice higher. That’s why even if you don’t have many tables available, but you power capacity is enough, you should take 2 or even three chamber oven. Your Guests will wonder at the speed of giving out pizza and you will earn more.
Appearance. In general, ovens have stainless steel bodies of metallic colour. That’s the most practical variant.
There are designer patterns and trimmings: cast iron, brass like colouring, tile patchwork and so on. We chose brass like colouring and regretted a bit. It turned out to be very difficult to maintain and to clean. Even after using special detergents some scratches were left and after one year this entourage “brass” oven looked like an old, shabby and used one.
Finally, we polished the paint away and covered it with heat resistant varnish.
Stones. Stones and heating elements are the biggest consumables in electric ovens. Oh, yes, and thermostats. They constantly get out of order.
Stones keep the temperature in the chamber and keep pizza from getting burnt. Usually the chamber of a pizza oven consists of a stone bottom and that’s all. We found the variant offered by a manufacturer called GGF (Italy), where the sides and the upper part were made of stone. In other words, the whole chamber was made of stone.
What’s the advantage? That same saving of electricity, as the temperature in the chambers is maintained longer. And also the evenness of baking, as the walls’ material is the same and accordingly the temperature is the same everywhere.
And in other variants: a bottom – stone, an upper side – metal. That is hotter, that is colder. So, wrong pizzas go out.
The size of baking chambers. If you have 50 and more cm pizzas on your menu, make sure that the chamber admits at least more than one, otherwise you are going to have some rush. We bought the oven with the chambers that can bake six 32 cm pizzas or four 50 cm pizzas simultaneously.
The availability of thermoregulation for all chambers. It is important to have the possibility to control the temperature in each chamber separately. I want to remind that pizzas of various diameters require various temperatures and time.
Manufacturer. The oven is the heart of your kitchen. Don’t save on a manufacturer. Take an interest in the official distribution, find out if the official service and technical maintenance are available in your region and also ask about the equipment warranty period.
The standard warranty for the equipment like that is 1 year. But the service at hand must be available all the time.
I am not going to name the manufacturers that are not quite reliable. Probably you could guess them yourselves. Among the high-quality manufacturers I will mention Italian (GGF, Italforni, Zanolli) and Swedish (PizzaMaster) companies.
In our venues we use GGF ovens, our model is E99.