Common Questions About Deck Ovens
How does a deck oven work?
A commercial deck oven will typically have burners both below the deck and above the cooking area, which means complete heating for your foods. This gives some models the strength to bake, broil, and roast and provides the pizza oven with the ability to produce perfectly crisp crusts while heating toppings and melting cheese. Having that full coverage from the heating elements means faster and more consistent cooking, so you shouldn't end up with a doughy crust and burnt toppings or tepid toppings and a burnt crust. For the ability to precisely control the heat to flawlessly cook a range of foods, opt for a model with independently controlled burners. As the name implies, they give you the ability to adjust the heat from the top and bottom burners.
Commercial deck ovens are optimized for long, flat foods, which makes sense as they were originally designed and primarily used as pizza ovens. Some models are equipped with convection capabilities, agitating the air around the cooking food and decreasing the necessary cooking time. Double deck ovens offer the same functionality but with an increased cooking area, and having the ovens stacked makes use of excess heat that would otherwise be vented and wasted.
What's the difference between a baking oven and a commercial pizza oven?
Certain models are designed just for baking pizza. These units have a short cavity that puts the baking deck closer to the overhead heat, which provides fast, even cooking and prevents energy being wasted to heat a larger cabinet. Models designed to bake larger items, such as loaves of bread, will have a taller cavity. This provides more room for bigger items and keeps them sufficiently away from the hot upper element so the top of the food will not burn or overcook.
Should I get a gas or electric deck oven?
The primary difference between electric and gas deck ovens comes in the utility cost of each resource. Consider the relative cost of each, and purchase the oven that will save you money over the long run. Other considerations include potential wasted energy, which is slightly less for an electric deck oven than a gas deck oven, and recovery time, which is slightly better for gas than for electric. Gas-powered equipment will also require a hood to catch escaping vapors, so take the cost of this hood into account before making a purchase.
Are conveyor ovens faster than deck models?
With its relatively hands-off operation and moving belt, it might be easy to assume a conveyor model would be the champion when it comes to volume, but that's not necessarily the case. If your kitchen is staffed by inexperienced workers, that would probably be true, however, a chef who knows what he or she is doing can actually produce more pizzas in an hour with a deck unit than with its conveyorized cousin. Many deck models can fully cook a pizza in 10 minutes or less.
What materials are the decks made from?
Harkening back to the original pizza ovens, many use a stone hearth, which actually includes a long list of generic and proprietary materials. Some companies use ceramic or actual slate stone, while others use a brick surface. These surfaces increase their heat retention, even when the deck is covered with cold pizza or dough. Hearth-baked breads need relatively low baking temperatures but have to take advantage of the stored heat in the stone to take shape, so stone-hearth decks are great for bakers.
In addition to specialty surfaces, some models have a brick-lined cooking chamber, a feature prized by many chefs. Those bricks absorb and radiate heat, so these units offer quick recovery times – or the span between when cold food is introduced and the chamber gets back to the set temperature. This results in shorter baking times and increased production capacity. Brick lining also serves as a type of insulation, so brick-lined ovens retain heat well and are more energy efficient.