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January 5th, 2017: How to Turbo-charge a Pizza Oven Fire

For those who aren’t Boy Scouts and Girl Guides this trick is a lot of hot air!

As you no doubt know, the way a pizza oven functions is all about thermodynamics. It may seem counter-intuitive that a fire inside a cave-like chamber is able to combust at all. But the fact is, due to thermodynamics, the ancient Roman design that all genuine pizza ovens follow is a spectacularly effective fire-making structure. The reason is, hot air rises (an important fact as you’ll see in a moment). So – when a fire is lit it creates hot air that must rise and leaves the chamber, and more air must rush in to replace it. The fire is fed the oxygen is craves, and continues to grow. That is the simple part, but here is where not all fires are created equal.

Once you have stacked the wood according to the method described in our website, and it is lit, you are hoping for a superb rush of combustion, but sometimes there’s a lot of smoke and not even the kindling catches fire. What to do?

Here it is: take several double sheets of newspaper and open them flat. As soon as the fire is lit, with both hands spread and hold the newspaper against the mouth of the oven, leaving a gap of say 3 inches or so at the bottom. The first noticeable benefit is no smoke will escape from the mouth of the oven. But more importantly you’ll notice that the fire immediately grows stronger. By throttling the intake the incoming air is forced to accelerate and soon the fire will be roaring. Hold the paper in place until the larger pieces are lit, which should take about 3 minutes or so while the logs begin to combust and the chimney heats up. Now slowly remove the paper, and feed the fire as necessary.

This method will effectively take care of any smoke hanging around. Back to thermodynamics for a moment: some folks recommend heating the chimney by holding a lot newspaper at the entrance to the vent. The rising air heats up the chimney and new air replaces it and feeds the fire and the system becomes self-sustaining.

In other words, a lot of hot air.



July 2nd, 2014: Our New Website is Up and Running

Hey everyone, today we launched a new website after months of redesign and development. We hope you like the new look and feel and continue to enjoy the resources available on our site.

If you notice any "bugs" or otherwise unusual behavior, please let us know if you would - no one likes bugs on their pizza, or in their websites. :)

Thank you, take care everyone! Cheers...



September 9th, 2013: 00 Flour from Le 5 Stagioni

We are happy to announce we will soon be selling Italy's premier 00 flour! Le 5 Stagioni Pizza Napoletana 00 flour is recommended by AVPN - the Association of Real Pizza Napoletana.

Please have a look at all our pizza ingredients that we import from Le 5 Stagioni.



Cooking in Your Wood-Fired Oven

Cooking in Your Wood-Fired Oven

May 17th, 2012: Cooking in Your Wood-Fired Oven

Cooking in a wood fired oven is not very different than using a regular oven. You can use your wood fired pizza oven not only to bake delicious pizza and bread, but also roast meat and vegetables, grill fish and lobster, and bake delicious desserts.

When using ovenware, any variety of oven-safe ceramic, or terra-cotta pans can be used. Be sure to keep the ovenware away from the flame and don't use them in temperatures over 550°F (always follow the instructions provided by your ovenware manufacturer).

Start the fire in your pizza oven approximately one and a half hours before cooking. Be sure to use dry wood. Continue to feed the fire until the center of the oven dome starts to turn white or clear: this will take about 45min to 1 hour. Next, place wood on the sides to widen the fire towards the walls. This allows the entire floor and dome to absorb the heat. After another 30min to 1 hour, the dome has turned white and the black soot has been carbonized. At this point, your oven will reach about 850°F+, the perfect temperature for cooking pizza. If you want to cook other dishes, you will need to let the temperature come down to about 450°F to 600°F.

When cooking pizza, your oven will need to be at a higher temperature: between 650°F and 850°F. Move the flame to one side of the pizza oven and place the pizza with a peel on the floor of the oven. Your pizza should be ready in about 2 or 3 min.

When grilling with your wood fired pizza oven, move the embers to the front-middle of the oven and place a freestanding grill over them. You will be able to grill things crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside. This makes great steak, lobster, shrimp, fish, and even vegetables. When baking or roasting meat, you will want to cook without a flame by removing all of the embers from the oven. If you plan to roast meat, the temperature will need to be at about 500°F and gradually go down. You can also enjoy delicious traditionally baked bread this way, as well as baked goods such as homemade pies.

Check out our other recipes page dedicated to cooking food other than pizza!



Pizza Making classes to continue in the New Year

Pizza Making classes to continue in the New Year

December 13th, 2011: Pizza Making classes to continue in the New Year

Thank you for the fabulous response to our pizza making class. We will take a short break then resume classes in the New Year, around January or in February.

Contact us to reserve a place in a future class and we will keep you updated.

Happy Holidays!!



October 27th, 2011: Fired up about CLT Foodie Tours Meet & Three

We're fired up about being a sponsor for the upcoming CLT Foodie Tours - Elizabeth! Belforno will be hosting the second stop at Chateau D'ough, the privately-owned Elizabeth Community Wood-Fired Oven (yep, it's a Belforno) where we'll prepare some of our incomparable (not to brag) wood-fired pizza for sampling. Sounds like fun!

Come out and enjoy this walking tour of three of this foodie neighborhood's unique dining establishments. Purchase tickets at cltfoodietours-elizabeth.eventbrite.com.

See you there November 16!



Belforno Ovens Obtain UL Certification!

Belforno Ovens Obtain UL Certification!

October 6th, 2011: Belforno Ovens Obtain UL Certification!

"UL", or Underwriters Laboratories, is an independent safety certification organization that provides the industry standard for approving products as being safe to use and to perform as described. Belforno voluntarily submitted our ovens to the stringent testing requirements to guarantee for our customers what we already knew: that Belforno ovens offer the highest quality materials and design, which is reflected in their outstanding performance every day. We are happy to announce that we have passed all testing requirements and our products are officially UL certified!

Feel free to contact us at info@belforno.com for more information on the requirements and technical specifications of our ovens.



First Belforno pizza making class October 8th

First Belforno pizza making class October 8th

September 14th, 2011: First Belforno pizza making class October 8th

We had to change the date of our first pizza making class to October 8 but we still can't wait to share our enjoyment of wood-fired cooking - and the secrets to the perfect Neopolitan-style dough - with everyone who attends. Due to the date change we have a few spots left, so sign up today!

If you cannot make it on the 8th, we will be conducting future classes so stay tuned.

See you soon!



August 24th, 2011: The GO Project Picks Up Momentum

Some of you may be familiar with our efforts over the past several months to bring wood-fired cooking to Haiti. We have been searching for partners to assist us with the myriad logistics of identifying a viable recipient community, delivering an oven to Haiti, training the Haitians on its use and implementing it as a means to provide not only delicious, oven-cooked meals but also vocational training and community building.

We are hopeful that we will soon announce a partnership with a non-profit organization and church with whom we will collaborate to make this vision a reality. Stay tuned!



Belforno Client Builds Community Oven

Belforno Client Builds Community Oven

August 24th, 2011: Belforno Client Builds Community Oven

By far, one of our most rewarding projects yet has been the collaboration with a group of neighbors in Charlotte who have come together to build the area’s first urban community oven. Selecting the Belforno40 for its large cooking floor, they have designed the site specifically for enjoying the oven together as a group. There will be large concrete counters extending in either direction from the oven, intended for food prep; a large, hand-made dining table, a woodshed, a garden (for ingredients) and gravel underfoot.

The oven will be covered with white mosaic tile in the style of Antoni Gaudí, using his trencadis technique that makes use of broken ceramic tile. The group of neighbors together uniquely possesses skills helpful to the project. Among them are an architect, mosaic artist, baker/photographer, gardeners... to name a few! The neighbors worked together nearly every weekend from May through August to construct the site and the oven.

Watch for the article being printed in The Charlotte Observer the Sunday before Labor Day!



Belforno on the Cover of SavorNC Magazine

Belforno on the Cover of SavorNC Magazine

August 24th, 2011: Belforno on the Cover of SavorNC Magazine

Belforno is so pleased to have been featured on the cover of the July/August issue of SavorNC Magazine!

We thoroughly enjoyed working with SavorNC, whose editor, Lauren Eberle, was simply a pleasure to spend the day of the photoshoot with, and Raymond Grubb, whose talents in photography fashioned the elegant portrayal of our ovens.

Go to SavorNC Magazine Online to view the online edition of the magazine and read the story on Belforno.



Belforno Pizza Making Classes

Belforno Pizza Making Classes

June 27th, 2011: Belforno Pizza Making Classes

We are pleased to introduce regular pizza-making classes starting on Saturday, October 1, 2011. Come to our class and learn to make the beautiful soft stretchy pizza dough that has made Neopolitan pizza famous world-wide. Learn the formula behind the “VPN”, or Vera Pizza Napolitana. Cook your own pizza in an authentic wood-fired oven and savor the results! All of this in a fun and relaxed atmosphere as you nibble on traditional Italian appetizers and sample wines.

In the Belforno Wood-Fired Pizza Making Classes, you will:
- learn the secret of how to make true Neopolitan-style pizza dough
- learn how to prepare a true Neopolitan pizza
- make your own pizza with your favorite ingredients
- learn about the history of pizza making
- experience an authentic, Italian-style wood-fired oven
- be provided with all necessary ingredients – just bring yourself
- enjoy a sampling of Italian wines and aperitivi as you learn
- take home a 1lb packet of Caputo "00" flour

Classes should last 2-3 hours and cost $65 per person, including a 1lb packet of Caputo "00" flour to take home.

To ensure plenty of one-on-one instruction, class size will be kept small so sign up today! Email us at info@belforno.com, subject "Pizza Making Class" to register and for driving directions.



March 8th, 2011: Belforno Comes 1st!

'Scuse us while we toot our own horn! We are honored and proud to have won 1st Place for our exhibit at the recent Charlotte Southern Spring Show.

Thanks to all who visited and asked tons of questions, bought ovens, or just learned about what we do, the show was an unqualified success.

See y'all next year at the SSS!



February 6th, 2011: Lazy Hazy Days of... Winter

Apart from hibernating, the last few weeks have been excellent for catching up on plans for spring. I’m looking forward to trying new dishes in my wood fired oven. Whole fish, probably some heart-healthy salmon would be good and some artisanal bread with whole wheat flour. What else? Oh yes, I want to try some new 00 flour. Normally I use Caputo, but for fun I’ll experiment with some local fine-ground flour.

But for now we’ve made use of the occasional good day, when the temperature has reached 60 degrees or so. The other day I made roast beef. It’s easy and you might want to try it in your oven. Use any cut suitable for roasting, and then baste with olive oil infused with garlic. In an earlier blog I mentioned how I place garlic cloves in oil, which make it so easy to use. Finally liberally apply oregano. With the oven at high heat – as much as 500 degrees, place in oven on something suitable – I use a cast iron skillet. Use a meat thermometer to cook to your liking, then remove and let it stand for 10 minutes or so. Delicious!

At the end of February we are preparing for the Southern Spring Show in Charlotte. If anyone thinking of building an oven and would like to visit us, we have complimentary tickets please contact us. See you there!



November 19th, 2010: Say Cheese!

Cheese is at the heart of most pizzas. Everyone knows the traditional cheese used around the world is mozzarella. It may be the only one to use if you are a purist and like classic pizzas. But according to cheese.com there are a 670 cheeses out there, all waiting for a chance to add delicousness to your steaming pizza.

The thing about mozzarella is that it adds texture, but not a lot of taste. Don’t get me wrong, I love-love-love the sensation of biting into a piece of Margherita and having so much cheese that it stretches in a long string from your mouth. But firstly, not everyone can afford mozzarella di bufala on every occasion, and secondly some people prefer a stronger taste.

What are the alternatives? Seems like most countries have their own favorite cheese, so how about some American, Colby or Monterey Jack? You can mix them together or with good old mozzarella. Actually, seems like Italians started mixing cheeses long ago: remember Pizza Quattro Formaggio? The name means Four Cheese and it’s a mix of mozzarella, stracchino, fontina and gorgonzola.

Try any variety of cheese – what’s the worst that can happen? My favorite mixed-cheese pizza is Norma e Donna made with mozzarella and gorgonzola. You will be amazed how creamy and tasty the flavor is. Pizza is essentially a simple dish, and a little flavor from the cheese goes a long way. Enjoy!



September 6th, 2010: Spice it Up a Notch

If you are like me, everything tastes better with some zesty flavor. Sometimes salt, other times black pepper. But most of all I love a bit of heat in the flavor. I don’t know what it is, but bolognaise is never the same for me without a bit of chili. And watching football with a bowl of weak chili doesn’t cut it for me. I don’t mean incandescent , just a good bite is enough. I think it’s addictive.

I grow my own chilies – jalapeno and habanero. First off, they are easy to grow, very willing and very prolific. And they’re pretty, deep red against the rich green.

So how do you add the chili to the pizza? Not all pizzas need the spice, but certainly the traditional ones. I have an easy way to kill two birds with one stone. I crush my aforementioned chilies, and add to my bottle of olive oil. That way you don’t need to add olive oil, and pepper flakes. You wouldn’t believe how hot the habanero is, so one or two in the oil is all it takes. Drizzle over the surface in the usual spiral motion. Mmm mm Mm!



Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

August 11th, 2010: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

My oven is fairly typical, with a wood store underneath the oven. When I am demonstrating an oven I often get asked if the big hole below the oven is for the fire, and the hole above is for cooking. Well, I guess it might make sense, but it always makes me chuckle.

This brings me to the subject of storing wood. Obviously when starting a fire most people will use dry wood, unless of course one forces the pace with a fire-starting liquid (not me!). But once the fire is roaring, almost any wood will burn, so you might be tempted to use that not-quite-dry wood. My advice: don't!

What'll happen is the moisture will want to burn first, and produce a lot of smoke. Worse, it can take a long time before the wood produces a nice coal. To avoid having your wood come in contact with dampness, store it above ground level. And if you create a wood store under your oven, make sure you have a moisture barrier under the slab. If not – your wood will suck in moisture and you'll end up with a smoky fire.