Who doesn’t love a brick oven pizza with its crispy crust and perfectly baked toppings? (It’s what the best pizza recipes have in common!)
The only trouble with such a treat is that it’s extremely hard to make at home. We’ll tell you why this is such a daunting task and also how to achieve the closest replica.
What makes brick oven pizzas special
Neopolitan-style pizzas are special. The crust is crisp and flecked with tell-tale charred spots, evidence of being baked in an extremely hot oven. The interior of the dough is soft, elastic, tender, and fragrant, and the toppings are cooked to perfection.
To achieve this perfect pizza, Italian pizza pros rely on brick ovens that typically heat to 700ºF (or more!). This high temperature cooks the pizza fast—we’re talking under two minutes!
The reason brick ovens can achieve such pizza perfection is due to the thermal conductivity of the bricks, or how efficiently they transfer heat into the dough. When comparing clay (the main component of bricks and your pizza stone) and steel, clay is much more slow to heat something placed on it, and this means that even if two ovens made of each material are heated to the same temperature, the crust in the brick oven won’t get nearly as hot as the crust in a steel oven.
Along those same lines, the toppings in a clay oven have more time to cook before the crust is done; in a steel oven, the crust will be burned at such high temperatures before the cheese is even melted. Brick ovens are ideal because the crust heats at a high but reasonable temperature giving the toppings enough time to properly cook.
How to make brick oven-style pizza at home
Without a real brick pizza oven, you won’t be able to get Neopolitan pizza just right, but you can get close!
- Preheat your oven so it’s nice and hot—about 450ºF.
- Pop your pizza on a steel baking tray and let it cook for about 3 minutes.
- Turn your oven up to a broil (500ºF) and heat the pizza until a crisp crust forms—another 5 to 7 minutes.
This should give you the crisp crust and tasty toppings you’re looking for—and be sure to avoid these basic pizza mistakes.
Until they start making brick ovens for household use, Italian-style pizza aficionados have two choices: Either find a restaurant turning out authentic brick-oven pizzas or settle for an almost-there homemade version. After all, all pizzas are good pizzas (even these frozen ones hit the spot)!