Wood Fired Pizza Oven

The aroma of wood smoke mingled with that of garlic, toasted cheese, tomatoes and basil….. a glass of Central Otago Pinot Noir and the company of good friends. What could possibly be better?

The principle of a wood fired oven is simple- you burn wood in an enclosed brick or refractory enclosure. Firstly you need to build a beautiful curvy masonry oven in your garden! Then, light a small fire in the middle of the oven from small twigs, fronds, finely split wood. We use a mixture of cherry wood and lake drift wood. Gradually feed the fire with thin sticks, maintaining a hungry fire rather than one with too much fuel. As the fire builds up feed in more wood. Reaching the correct temperature should take about two to three hours. Push the embers to the back and sides of the oven with a rooker, a form of rake, and occasionally feed with small sticks. The temperature of your oven should now be in the region of 400 C. The brickwork will store a lot of this heat and release it back as usable cooking heat at around 200-280 C.  Place the pizza in the oven using a wooden peel that has been sprinkled with dried couscous, this acts like ball-bearings to enable the pizza to slide off easily. Use a stainless steel peel to turn the pizzas around and to remove them from the oven. The first pizza should cook in a couple of minutes. Yum!……

Pizza Dough

2 tsp active dried yeast

1/2 tsp sugar

1 c lukewarm water

2 1/2 c flour

1 tsp salt

Place the yeast, sugar and water in a bowl and mix to combine. Set aside until bubbles appear, usually in about 5 minutes. Place the flour and salt in a bowl, make a well in the centre. Add the yeast mixture and mix together with well-floured hands to form a dough. Knead the dough on a floured surface for 5-10 minutes. Divide the dough into three portions coat with a drizzle of olive oil and allow to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes to one hour. On a well-floured board roll out a thin round disc about 25cm in diameter. Make a border around each disc by pressing 2 cm inside the edge with your fingers. Place on wooden peel sprinkled with dried couscous as described above, spread the pizza base with your favourite toppings and bake immediately.

Pizza Toppings

Italian pizzas are thin and light on toppings. Once you add the pizza toppings, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with rock salt and bake in your pizza oven. Enjoy!!


Homemade tomato pizza paste, garlic, oregano and mozzarella.


Homemade tomato pizza paste, spinach, ,tomato slices and mozzarella


Homemade tomato pizza paste, salami, peppers and mozzarella.


Homemade tomato pizza paste, basil leaves and mozzarella.

Quattro Stagioni

Homemade tomato pizza base, mozzarella with quarters of;

1) diced ham

2) sauteed mushrooms

3) marinated artichokes

4) olives and anchovies


Homemade tomato pizza paste, anchovy fillets and mozzarella.

Piccola Roma

Homemade tomato pizza paste, diced ham, pineapple and mozzarella.


Homemade tomato pizza paste, marinated artichokes, oregano and mozzarella.


Homemade tomato pizza paste, sliced ham and mozzarella.

Bread and Other

You can use your wood-fired oven like a barbeque, especially when the fire is still going and temperatures are up near 450 C. With the intense heat, items such as vegetables, meat or fish can be cooked very quickly as long as the cuts are not too large and pans or oven-proof dishes are not over-filled. You might be suprised at how moist meat can taste when done in a pizza oven.

3 thoughts on “Wood Fired Pizza Oven

  1. Hi Lavenderandthyme,
    I agree with Terry that this pizza oven is exceptional in design. Would you be prepared to post the design used, or alternatively point us in the right direction?

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