Top 5 Considerations When Choosing a Wood Fired Oven…
If you’re considering building a wood fired oven for your home or business, there are a few things you probably already know – the way the sight, sound, gentle warmth and vitality of fire ignites your spirits, how the wood fired aroma awakens your senses, and the pure excitement you feel when cooking with a live fire.
What you may not know is how to find the perfect match. Over the years, we’ve come to the understanding that a harmonious relationship between a cook and their oven is vital. The connection is a key ingredient in wood fired baking creativity, inspiration and success.
Of all the wood fired ovens available in today’s market, which model will meet your needs and expectations? We can’t speak for everyone, but here are some factors to think about if you’re considering a Le Panyol.
1. Location – If you’re established in one area, and can’t imagine yourself moving anywhere else anytime soon, building an oven into the existing architecture of your home or business is a great option.
On the other hand, for those who never settle, or who may move around, we strongly suggest a model that has the capability to travel along with you. Look into some our turnkey concepts like a portable oven. These ovens are fully assembled and ready to use immediately. They are priced higher than some of our basic oven core packages, but the beauty is you can make the investment without feeling tied down. Enjoy wood fired baking anywhere the road may take you.
2. Cooking Surface – Choosing a hearth size all depends on the volume of food you’ll be baking on a regular basis. If you’re a professional and need to cook a lot of food in the least amount of time without sacrificing flavor, quality or authenticity, definitely choose a commercial model with a hearth size of at least 12 square feet. If you plan on cooking for a small family, a hearth size of about 3-4 square feet will work well for you. When you’re browsing through different models, just be sure to examine the specs closely because they’ll give you a good sense of the cooking surface and capacities of each oven.
One piece of advice we often give is to not only think about what type of capacity you need now, but also what type of capacity you may need 5-10 years down the road. It’s better to leave room for growth personally or professionally, rather than purchasing an oven that ends up being too small and stifles your potential.
3. Material – One element we cannot express enough is how important the oven core material is. To achieve the maximum amount of efficiency, we use 100% organic Terre Blanche (white clay) which has unique characteristics unlike other oven core kits available. Compared to terra cotta, dense firebrick, and cold cast refractory concrete, Terre Blanche offers a faster warm up time, incomparable thermal properties, and outstanding efficiency & durability.
This specific material has also been tested to meet all UL 2162, ULC S627-00 and ANSI/NSF 4 standards. This means, food can be placed directly on the hearth tiles because the organic properties do not denature it in any way, not even at high temperatures. Food cooked in a Le Panyol oven is the most wholesome: taste, flavor and aroma are fully preserved.
When researching different oven core materials, definitely keep your eyes peeled for food safety testing, UL and ULC seals of approval.
4. Design – The design of your oven core is as equally important as the material. Make sure to do your research here. A common mistake is to go with a model that may be less expensive, but also lacks enough mass and capability to absorb and retain the amount of heat needed to cook both evenly and efficiently.
The unique proportions of the Le Panyol dome allows air to enter through the bottom of the oven and circulate naturally, ensuring perfect combustion, while the smoke is expelled through the top. This creates the precise convection airflow to feed your fire, and cook every dish to perfection.
The wall thickness and weight of the core are also very important elements to consider. We find when comparing a Le Panyol to other wood fired ovens on the market that the substantial wall thickness and weight of the Le Panyol core far exceeds those offered by other brands.
When crunching numbers, try dividing the price of the oven by the total weight. Know what you’re getting per pound when comparing brands and narrowing down your options.
5. Budget – This is a concern that is addressed to us on a daily basis. Our advice is to be careful where you cut costs. Like I mentioned above, while you’re doing your cost analysis just make sure to compare weights, figure out the cost comparison per pound, and take the other factors like design, material, and cooking capacity into consideration before making a final decision.
Another idea in terms of economizing is to consider getting together with family or friends to assemble your oven core. By following our step-by-step construction guide (included free with each oven core package), you could build it on your own with the support and technical assistance from our team or a local mason if you need it.
We hope these tips are helpful as you consider different wood fired oven options for your home or business. Assisting bakers and cooks, from beginners to professionals, in finding the perfect oven is one of our favorite responsibilities here at Maine Wood Heat Company.
Like any new relationship, it’s fun, exciting, and full of wonderful potential.