The origins of this type of oven can be traced back to some of the earliest cooking methods, and their relative simplicity makes them a big part of a lot of foodservice operations. Bakers value them because they provide a consistent heat that quickly bakes cookies and gives a beautiful brown crust to breads. The deck pizza oven is popular in Italian eateries, where they do everything from the obvious – heating pizza – to baking pasta dishes. A good steakhouse chef can produce a perfect sirloin in one without having to brown on a griddle then move to a broiler.
Full-size units will typically have burners both below the deck and above the cooking area, which means complete heating for your foods. That gives some models the strength to bake, broil, and roast. It also provides the pizza deck oven with the ability to produce perfectly crisp crusts while heating toppings and melting cheese.
Having that full coverage from the heating elements means more even and faster cooking. You shouldn't end up with a doughy crust and burnt toppings or tepid toppings and a burnt crust with one of these units. For the ability to precisely control the heat to perfectly 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 both the top and bottom burners.
There are other options that allow for faster cooking. Some models have a perforated deck, which allows for better air circulation, while a majority of them will employ a convection fan to eliminate hot and cold spots.
One thing to consider when shopping for a deck oven is the location of the pilot light and the controls. Many operations build these into a wall to provide a more attractive display and those that do must ensure their construction plans allow access to those two important parts of the oven.
High Production Capability
Though it might be easy to assume a conveyor model, with its relatively hands-off operation and moving belt, would be the champion when it comes to volume, that's not necessarily the case. If your kitchens 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 oven than with its conveyorized cousin. Many models will fully cook a pizza in 10 minutes or less.
Deck Oven Surface Options
As you refine your search for the right model for your kitchen, you may want to take note of the type of deck each offers. That surface can dictate things like what you're able to cook and what temperatures your oven will be able to achieve.
The most economical models will have a stainless steel surface, with most of those in the countertop category. They have an easy-to-clean, non-stick plate, but they don't typically offer the authentic, hearth-baked cook that some customers crave. The heat radiated from this type of surface is not as even as what comes off denser options. It's important not to scratch or pit the plate, as that can ruin its non-stick properties, create a home for bacteria, and promote corrosion.
The most common option in this category is the 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. That allows them to retain heat better, even when the deck is covered with cold pizza or dough. They're great for bakers. Hearth baked breads need relatively low baking temperatures but need to take advantage of the stored heat in the stone to take shape.
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, which means these units offer quick recovery times, 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 bricked-lined ovens retain heat well and are more energy efficient.
The Baking Oven vs. the Pizza Oven
Certain models are essentially designed just for pizza baking, hence their common names of pizza deck oven or deck pizza oven. Those units have a short cavity that puts the baking deck closer to the overhead heat. That provides faster and more even cooking, and also prevents energy being wasted to heat a larger cabinet.
Models designed to do more baking, which means they'll host larger items like loaves of bread, will have a taller cavity. That allows more room for larger items and keeps them sufficiently away from the hot upper element to prevent burning or overcooking of the top of the food.