How to build a wood fire in your pizza oven
The best wood for wood fired cooking is Manuka as its burn very regular and slow and thus retains heat for longer. However, you can use other types of high density hard wood, as long as it has not previously been painted or treated, and alway make sure the wood you use is
Prepare the wood: small to medium-sized branches or smaller wood chops to start up the fire, and thicker branches and logs to keep the fire going. The smaller branches and wood chops burn quickly and then light the larger branches underneath. The bigger pieces and logs are useful to maintain the temperature without having to add continuously wood to the fire. Be careful not to use anything else than wood, or wood of dubious origin, because the cooked food would inevitably be polluted. Even to light the fire: do not use newspapers and magazines, as they contain chemical elements.
Then, build a “castle” of wood in the center of the oven by placing the larger pieces at the base and the smaller pieces on top (see pictures). In wet conditions it is necessary to reduce the size of the pieces of wood. Bear in mind that in winter and in wet seasons it will be harder to light a fire, but in summer it becomes extremely easy and there’s no need to put the wood inside the oven to let it dry a little.
Once the fire is lit, you should keep adding a bigger log every now and then to maintain a lively fire for at least 30 minutes approx (10 to 15 minutes for My-Buddy and My-Mate). Then you move the fire to one side and keep it going more moderately now for another 30 minutes approx (10 to 15 minutes for My-Buddy and My-Mate), meanwhile you start preparing the cooking area in the oven by scooping and brushing ash and coals to the fire. Generally, you can start the cooking when the flames are weakened and the walls of the oven turned grayish to white. But before putting in the food, whipe the cooking area with a humid old towel over the brush to remove ashes (only for food that you place directly on the oven floor, like pizza, focaccia, breads).
The total heat up time depends a lot on the wood you use: the higher density hard wood will heat up your oven faster then a “softer” hard wood. Don’t get the wood in bags from hardware stores or from fuel stations as that is wood for heaters and it won’t get your oven hot enough. If you don’t know where to buy good high density hardwood, just ask you local pizzeria where they buy their wood from (if they have a wood fired pizza oven that is…).
My-Woodfiredoven provides you with more detailed instructions with the purchase of your wood fired pizza oven. It explains the different ways of building and maintaining the fire specifically for baking pizza, for baking breads, for cooking roasts and stews.
You will see how easy it is once you “get it in your fingers”.