When I was first looking to invest in a personal pizza oven, I thought I’d probably end up with something clunky – a device that would mostly live in the storage unit, to be pulled out every now and then for use. occasional.
After testing the Stoke pizza oven – which promises all the functionality of a wood-fired pizza oven in a more portable package – for a few weeks, it turns out that the sleek and compact pizza oven is indeed a great addition to weekends out in the country as I originally imagined – but it’s even more fun to use it around town, both in parks and in friends’ backyards. And that’s the case for both me – a first-time wood-fired pizza oven user – and my co-tester husband, who happens to be a veteran pizza maker.
Getting Started with the Stoke Pizza Oven
Know your fuel options
The Stoke is available in wood or gas models. I opted for the wood fire as I find it makes a tastier pie and I didn’t want to deal with gas logistics either.
While Stoke’s tutorial on unpacking the wood-fired model shows how to use the oven with wood pellets and a fire starter, the video also suggests that you can use small pieces of wood or a mixture of wood and charcoal, for slower, slower cooking. So far I’ve only used small pieces of wood and no synthetic fire starters, but the flexibility is nice – I plan to experiment with the wood and charcoal combo soon.
Stock up on must-have accessories
If you don’t already have the equipment needed to make pizza at home, such as a pizza cutter, you’ll need it to get the most out of your pizza oven. Luckily, Stoke offers a package containing a pizza peel, knife and carrying case. (In fact, as of this writing, everything is included with your purchase.)
My test kit comes with a case, but no peel or cutter. I already have a cutter, but no peeler, which made cooking a little more difficult. Also, beyond making sure you have a pizza shovel and the other accessories mentioned…bringing gloves wouldn’t hurt. The pizza ovens are heating up.
Assembly is quick and intuitive
Unlike many products that promise Quick and easy setup, the Stoke was really simple to put together. Although it took me a few minutes longer than the “as little as five minutes” quoted on the website to fully unbox and unbox each piece and put them together – it was probably close to eight minutes – the process went smoothly. is unrolled without friction, with all the necessary tools provided. The box came with installation instructions, but the design was intuitive enough that I didn’t have to read every step to figure out how the product parts fit together.
It is sleek, portable and compact
The Wood-Fired Stoke comes in one size: 13 inches long by 18.22 inches high by 11.15 inches wide. Fully assembled, it weighs just over 40 pounds, which means you won’t find yourself tied down in one place because it’s too heavy to move around. It’s also easy to clean and store in the car (after letting it cool, of course).
Since most of the damage is contained either on the stone or in the fuel chamber, the transport is also much less messy than I expected. I actually started keeping the Stoke stored in my trunk, so we could regularly cook pizza on weekend camping trips.
I used to think of backyard pizza ovens as large permanent structures that eventually took on their own design features, but the Stoke is also sleek in addition to being small. At the park where we did the main testing, the Stoke drew tons of attention and compliments from complete strangers. This product seems worth the money – and it makes a nice addition to a garden, balcony or campsite.
Cooking is quick and it’s easy to make adjustments on the fly
The Stoke has a few features that make it easier to monitor a pizza while it cooks and, most importantly, fix mistakes. There’s a built-in thermometer in the front, as well as a small peephole that gives a view of the flame levels. The front compartment is easy to open; I’ve done this often to monitor and rotate the pizza. In total, each pizza took about 10 minutes to cook.
As I cooked, I made adjustments to test different options, like flipping the pizza stone, adding more wood to keep the temperature stable, and adjusting the shutter above the fireplace. Wood-fired flames are ultimately more work to maintain than gas-fired ones, but in my opinion, the taste of wood-fired batter is irreplaceable.
Pro tips for the Stoke pizza oven
While using the Stoke was a great experience, I’ve discovered a few tips to keep in mind that will help you determine if it’s right for you, and if so, make your experience even better.
There will be a learning curve, even if you’ve made pizza before
While assembling the product for the Stoke was easy, there’s definitely a learning curve to actually using it – not just for a first time pizza oven user like me, but also for my husband, who was a professional pizza maker for years. This is compounded by the fact that the instructions say little or nothing about the reality using the oven, just by assembling it. (I consulted Stoke’s Youtube channel to help me get started.)
Heating the oven takes time
One of the Stoke videos I watched claimed the oven would heat up to around 900 degrees Fahrenheit in 20-30 minutes. Yet on a sunny and somewhat windy spring day in New York, even after about half an hour of heating and waiting, heating and waiting, ours only heated to a maximum of 700 °F.
That said, it is important to note that the thermometer relays the heat of the ovennot the heat of pizza stone, therefore, it can be difficult to determine if the oven was truly hot enough to cook based on the thermometer reading. The thermometer is also in the front of the oven, while the pizza being cooked is closer to the flames in the back of the oven, so it doesn’t give a really accurate reading of the temperature of the oven. cooking. Consider the thermometer as a guide; you can invest in a laser thermometer to ease the uncertainty, but simple trial and error will also get you where you need to go. We generally found it easier to watch the pizzas closely and rotate them frequently; if you don’t spin it, the back of your pie will be burned.
Of course, you can use the damper above the fireplace to send the flames closer to the front of the oven. If you do this, just make sure your pizza is not in the oven, otherwise it will be burned.
Don’t expect restaurant sized pizzas
The Stoke is perfect for small pizza creations. This isn’t a knock on the product – it’s just not meant to produce large, restaurant-style portions. Since each pizza took about 10 minutes to cook, the process went best when we used it as a social activity, chatting with friends while making our personal pizzas and trying each one as it came. finished. However, if we had planned to make several pizzas to eat together, we would have been disappointed.
Stoke wood-fired pizza oven: the verdict
The Stoke proved as easy to use in a garden as it was in the middle of a crowded Prospect Park. Once you get the hang of it – knowing how to get the thing started, having the right accessories, and trial and error related to temperature – it’s a sleek, easy to set up, easy to break down – way to make delicious pizza, with the wood-fired taste that gas alternatives simply can’t match.
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