Ancient ovens were made of heavy masonry, brick, or clay and heated by building a wood fire inside them. In this type of oven, the brick absorbs the intense heat of the fire and cooks foods long after the fire has gone out and the ashes removed. Items such as breads and pizzas are baked directly on the floor of the oven, just as in modern deck ovens.Wood-burning ovens have once again come into fairly wide use, mostly in specialty restaurants that feature roasted meats,pizzas, and similar items.The foods absorb some of the appealing wood-smoke flavors and aromas.
Because a traditional wood-burning oven lacks a temperature control knob, some experience is needed to produce consistent quality baked foods. During the firing of the oven, a wood fire is built directly on the hearth inside the oven.The flue and the door are kept open to allow the smoke to escape.After the fire is stopped, the ashes and embers are swept out.The door and flue are closed to allow the heat to equalize inside the dome of the oven. Initial temperatures inside the oven at this point may be as high as 850 F (450 C). Pizza can be baked at this temperature. For meats and breads, the oven is left to stand until the temperature gradually drops to the desired range.Al-ternatively, a fire can be kept going in the back of the oven while foods are roasted to
ward the front,with the flue kept open.
Combination ovens, also available, are more controllable.These can be fired by gas alone,by wood alone,or by gas and wood together.
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