Pizza with Serrano ham and mozzarella baked in the Alfa pizza oven
Angela Slater
Daughter of a farmer and market gardener so have always had a connection with the outdoors, whether it was keeping animals or producing fruit, vegetables and cut flowers. Along with my work at Hayes Garden World I also have a smallholding, mainly breeding rare breed pigs. I gained an HND and BSc in Conservation and Environmental Land Management, as a result I am an ardent environmentalist and have a keen interest in environmentally friendly gardening. In my time at Hayes I worked for several years in the Outdoor Plant and Houseplant areas

How And What To Cook On The Alfa Wood Fired Pizza Oven

Authentic tasting Italian pizza (and more!) on the Alfa wood fired oven

Pizza with Serrano ham and mozzarella, courtesy of Richard Holden, cooked in the Alfa pizza oven (pictured above)

The Alfa Wood Fired Pizza Ovens are not just for pizzas, try the Sunday roast, lasagne, steaks, kebabs and who could resist the appetising aroma of fresh baked crusty bread. In fact the list is almost endless; whatever you would grill or cook in your kitchen oven or on the barbecue is achievable in one of these ovens. Even if you don’t want to cook it would make a stylish focal point on your patio, throwing out a lot of heat on a chilly British evening. As you would expect from an appliance manufactured in Italy the sleek styling is impeccable and the quality is second to none; it would make a gorgeous adornment for any garden even when not in use.

Alfa Pizza ovens on sale at Hayes Garden World

Fire up the oven by stacking small pieces of good quality kiln-dried hard-wood logs in the centre around a Woodson firestarter. Light the firestarter by dropping a match down the centre and when the small pieces of wood are alight stack some larger pieces on top.

Woodson firestarters with an Alfa pizza oven

Fire starter in an Alfa pizza oven

Do not use household firelighters as these give off noxious fumes which will taint the food and could potentially be a health hazard. When it reaches the required temperature, typically taking about 10 - 15 minutes, use the tools to sweep the embers to one side of the oven. Place the pizzas onto the oven floor next to the embers as soon as it has been swept and close the door; this gives the pizzas that lovely authentic Italian woody taste, something you are never going to get by using a gas or electric oven. These ovens can reach a temperature of 400C (752F) which will cook a pizza in about 90 seconds. The ‘4 pizze’ oven can produce 14 pizzas in 15 minutes; which should easily keep up with even the largest family gathering. Once you have finished cooking your pizzas let the oven cool slightly then bake your delicious crusty bread in the cooling embers.

Home-made bread from the Alfa wood fired oven

The stainless steel dome contains a ceramic fibre insulation which retains the heat, meaning that you use less wood to maintain temperature. Pushing the embers to the side of the oven and not the back ensures that the heat circulates around the oven cooking your food evenly on all sides. The outside of the dome only reaches a temperature of 50C (122F) so you should avoid any nasty burns. The oven floor is constructed from interchangeable refractory tiles made from 3cm thick (1.25”) earthenware. These store the heat and very quickly transfer it to the food; they cool slowly enabling you to bake other items after you have finished with the pizzas. There is space underneath to stack your wood and keep it dry. It has a tool storage rack, built-in handy side shelves, smooth running castors for ease of movement and an integral pyrometer to give you accurate temperature readings.

Alfa '4 pizze' wood fired pizza oven at Hayes Garden World

When you receive delivery of your oven all that’s required is to easily attach the flue and then fix the side shelves in place with a few screws; 15 minutes after taking delivery you’re all ready to fire up and enjoy your delicious home-made pizza. A lot of brick pizza ovens need to ‘cure’ for about an hour before you can start cooking, not so with the Alfa, as soon as the wood has reached your required temperature you are ready to go. The oven comes equipped with the tools needed to rake the embers to the side and a brush to sweep the oven floor. There are kits available to help you make the most of your oven; the pizza kit includes a box in which to keep your dough balls fresh, a wooden paddle and pizza board and an infrared laser temperature probe which allows you to test all areas of the oven interior. There are also kits to help you produce delicious home-baked bread, cakes and also a roasting kit including a cooking rack and drip tray, cooling rack, tongs and fork.

Try stuffing a whole fish with a couple of smashed garlic cloves, a handful of fresh chopped parsley, grated pecorino cheese and a small finely chopped de-seeded chilli all bound together with a little extra virgin olive oil. Spread a little of the mixture over the top of the fish and wrap securely in kitchen foil. Cook in the oven after the pizzas have come out and the temperature has dropped to 200C (390F) for about 30 minutes; cooking time will depend upon the size of the fish.