How the Oven Works
Wood buring Chicago brick ovens are specially designed to take full advantage of all three cooking methods -- Radiant Heat, Convection and Conduction.
Radiant heat comes from a direct source. In a wood-fired oven, radiant heat can come from two direct sources-the fire and the heat that's stored in the oven walls and hearth. Radiant heat is very even and will cook food from all directions. The special shape of your wood burning oven reduces all cold spots and ensures that the stored radiant heat is used efficiently. By slowly building the oven's stored heat, you'll be able to take advantage of the radiant heat for longer periods of time. You'll also be able to use radiant heat by leaving a fire or hot coals in the oven. Use this method of cooking if you want high heat and a short cooking time, especially for pizzas.
Convection is heated air circulating in an oven. Cool air is drawn into the oven through the access hole (when the exterior door is closed) or the oven opening (when the door is open). As the cool air is drawn into the oven, it's rapidly heated by the fire and the stored heat in the oven. This heated air passes over the food evenly. As the air continues to heat, it passes to the back of the oven and rises. The heated air now again passes over the food on the way out of the oven flue. This draw causes a steady flow of heat to pass over the food, causing convection. As you develop your wood-fired brick oven skills, you?ll learn how to regulate the amount of air coming into and leaving the oven by controlling the flue.
You can also take advantage of convection with closed-door cooking. After the oven is heated properly and the fire removed, you can place the insulating door on the oven to keep the heat in. When you add the cool dough to the hot oven, convection will take place through the moisture in the dough. As the hot air comes in contact with the dough, the heat is transferred. The air comes off the dough cooler, then is heated again by the oven. This process creates convection by the air constantly moving within the oven. To take full advantage of this cooking process, you may want to load your hot oven full with dough.
The third method of cooking in your wood-fired brick oven is with conduction. Conduction simply occurs when a cooler object comes in contact with a warmer object and heat is transferred. The amount of conduction that takes place depends on two things -- the temperature difference of the two items and the material (if any) that's between them. For example, you may want to sear a steak by placing a cast iron grill in a very hot oven. Once the grill is at temperature, you'll place room-temperature steaks on the grill. This contact will cause conduction to take place and sear the steaks. Another great example of conduction is putting a pizza directly on the oven?s heated hearth. The heat transferred from the hearth to the pizza will cause an excellent crust to form, instead of a soggy one.
Maintaining your Oven
The maintenance of the wood burning brick oven is pretty simple. Following these maintenance and operating tips will help keep your oven at its peak performance: