Baking Pizzas with the Yoder Pizza Oven
If you are planning to expand your outdoor kitchen with a new piece of equipment, you may have considered a pizza oven. With a wide variety of options on the market, most consumers can find an oven that will suit their budget as well as their culinary interests. All of the competent choices have a stone cooking surface and an arched or domed design that aids the oven in reaching the +600ºF temperatures, which are key to quality pizza making.
Earlier this year Yoder Smokers released a wood fired oven designed specifically for their YS480 and YS640 models. This thoughtful design is a reverse engineered wood fired pizza oven that elegantly adapts to their 640 series pellet smokers. The kit includes a diffusion plate, oven housing and a proprietary pizza stone. Click here to check out Yoder’s official landing page for this accessory.
Installation is done by first removing the cooking grates and stock diffusion plate and cleaning the firebox and ignition tube area. A shop vac is an excellent choice for this job. Next place the oven’s special diffusion plate on the lower cooking grate rails, and then set the oven on top of the plate, there are four tabs on the bottom of the oven that fit into four slots on the diffusion plate. Finally slide the pizza stone into the oven. Now you are ready to fire up the pit.
To warm the oven up turn the cooker on and let it run for about 20-25 minutes at 350ºF. Then the oven can be turned all the way up to 600ºF. The longer it runs, the warmer it will get inside.
We were very excited to test this oven out, so the menu of our initial cook was based on what we could find in the break room at FireBoard Labs including: day old french bread, a frozen pizza, and leftover pizza. The frozen pizza cooked up faster and resulted in a crispier crust when compared to conventional oven cooking. The leftover pizza looked and smelled incredible, and the bread was a toasty warm treat on a chilly November afternoon. All of this was done with the cooker’s lid in the up position, per Yoder’s instructions.
Time for a Real Pizza
Our next step was scale things up and make some fresh pizzas. As luck would have it, we know a guy, or in this case a “dude.” Matt Frampton, Head Pizza Dude (his actual title) at Urban Slicer Pizza is a competition BBQ smoker and user of the FireBoard Thermometers. He even uses a Spark when making his fresh crust dough. Most recently we saw Matt at the American Royal World Series of BBQ.
With supplies for making fresh crusts in hand we were ready for pizza day at FireBoard Labs. Thankfully one of our teammates, Wendy Jones, worked in a pizza restaurant for seven years. Just the experience we needed to make Matt’s crusts look their best!!
Following the directions on the bag and Matt’s advice, the Spark came in handy a couple of times when making the dough. First was taking the temperature of the water. “I temp my water, always” Frampton states directly, “I want the water to be 75-80F”. Then again after mixing, “Once mixed I take a temp of the dough. Preferably, the dough is at least 80F, I am ok if it’s as high as 90F at this point.”
The cook time for the pizzas was a speedy six minutes, three minutes for one half, and then a spin for another three. Right away we had a good rhythm going. Wendy could build a pizza and bring it out to me at the cooker in the time it took for one to cook. She would then take the finished pizza inside for the FireBoard team to enjoy.
To satisfy our scientific curiosity, we placed three thermocouple probes inside the oven, connected to a FireBoard 2 Pro. One laying on the front surface of the pizza stone, one on the back surface, and a third for air temperature suspended in the rear of the oven.
With the YS640’s controller set at 550ºF the air temp reached a high temp of 809.8ºF after about two hours of cook time. Click here to view the session.