Eating a Neapolitan pizza feels like eating a dream. Everyone can taste the classical sweet-acidic tomato sauce. There’s also the soft gooey top, resulting in the best cheese pulls ever. The crust is also worth talking about; crisp-charred bread that you expect never to get soggy.
Pizza like this is a meal fit for a king.
But has anyone wondered why this pizza tastes heavenly? Truly, what is the science behind brick oven pizza taste from Neapolitan and Roman pizzas?
Higher Cooking Temperature
The selling point of brick oven pizzas lies in how a brick oven cooks the pizza.
Commercial ovens—home ovens found in a decent kitchen—can only do so much by reaching the cooking temperature of 350 degrees. While the temperature is decent enough to cook the pizza, it’s not enough to maximize the pizza’s flavor.
This necessity to crank the heat up makes an outdoor pizza oven the better pizza cooker. The flames of firewood burning can reach an astonishing 750 degrees. Some people recommend indoor pizza ovens in the market as a substitute. But with the outdoor brick oven’s proven effects on pizzas, what oven could ever top its quality?
Many people can come across Maillard’s reaction from chefs, food scientists, or even home cooks. There is a reason why this terminology is prominent.
The Maillard reaction pertains to the chemical reaction on foods when enough thermal energy jumpstarts it. This reaction between sugar and amino acids results in the formation of flavor compounds. People commonly know this reaction as “browning.” They see this in various culinary dishes, including pizza.
But to make browning possible, a cooking device must heat the dish at a minimum of 284 degrees Fahrenheit. In a brick pizza oven, this temperature is ridiculously easy to achieve.
Out of all available types of the oven in the market, brick pizza ovens account for the most decent thermal control.
Firewood blasts heat throughout the whole mechanism so that a rigorous 700 degrees of conductive heat would sear the crust. Only brick ovens with high heat retention can reach that temperature.
Additionally, the oven’s design also allows more trapping of hot air within its closure. This gives the stove enough minutes to cook the dough in two minutes. Think of this mechanism as convection settings that most commercial ovens have in their features.
Getting a soggy pizza is one distasteful moment that isn’t worth eating. The overabundance of moisture in the dough can cause a lack of crispiness. However, despite the need to crisp the dough, moisture still plays a large part in the whole pizza experience. No one wants a stone brick pizza either way.
As such, to retain some moisture, most pizza connoisseurs would recommend reducing the pizza’s time in the oven. The less cooking time the pizza gets, the less moisture will escape from it.
The question now stands, “would less cooking time result in raw pizza dough?” For brick oven pizza with searing heat and even cooking, that wouldn’t be the case. With a cooking time of just two minutes, brick ovens retain some moisture in the pizza dough without getting it raw. This cooking method is also responsible for the textural differences: A seared bottom with a soft top.
Unlike a pizza from a conventional oven, an outdoor oven pizza, particularly made of bricks, will have that distinct, finishing, smoky taste. With firewood burning next to the pizza, the dough’s only natural to incorporate the smoke on itself. The use of specific woods—oak, hickory, pecan, and maple—would add another smoke flavor depth to the pizza.