By Angeline Grenz

Home is once again our sanctuary, and the heart of the home is the kitchen. In the summer, many of us like to move that kitchen outdoors as much as possible, and what better family activity than creating a meal together with your very own woodfired pizza oven?

The draw of these clay ovens is the internal heat they produce, averaging between 700 to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, allowing you to bake a pizza in minutes with the distinctive charred crust that imparts a great smoky flavor with a nice, satisfying chew. In fact, many woodfired pizza oven aficionados claim that once you get the knack of cooking on a wood-fired oven, the sky is the limit of what you can create.

Fully assembled outdoor pizza ovens can range from a couple hundred dollars for a simple tabletop version to several thousand for more elaborate custom pieces. One cheap, albeit small, version can be found at Cost Plus World Market. Their Blue Fish Terracotta Pizza Oven, $149.99, can make 5” to 6” personal size pizzas and the design is cute enough to enhance a small backyard patio, and mobile enough to move out of the way when not wanted.

Home improvement stores, such as Home Depot, offer a wide variety of pizza ovens with all kinds of bells and whistles. But if you are envisioning something truly special, local landscaping companies, such as Alpine Gardens, have experience building full outdoor kitchens and custom outdoor pizza ovens. A custom-built pizza oven from Alpine can range $5,000 to $10,000, depending on overall size.

Or, for the intrepid, you can DIY a pizza oven for your backyard. Plenty of re-sources exist online to walk you through the project. Makezine.com boasts a build-in-a-day brick pizza oven complete with step-by-step instructions.

WOOD FIRED PIZZA AND CHARCOAL GRILLING

And worry not, if a woodfired pizza oven is not in your future, try baking these pizzas on your charcoal grill. Grilled pizzas still have a wonderful smoky flavor.

PULCINELLA’S PIZZA DOUGH

This makes enough for two 14-inch pizza crusts.

3 ½ to 4 cups bread flour, plus more for rolling

1 tsp. sugar

1 envelope instant dry yeast

2 tsp. salt

1 ½ cups warm water, around 110 degrees F

2 Tbsp. olive oil, plus a couple teaspoons

1. Combine the bread flour, sugar, yeast and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. While the mixer is running, add the water and 2 tablespoons of the oil, beating until the dough forms into a ball. If the dough is sticky, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together in a solid ball. If the dough is too dry, add additional water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead into a smooth, firm ball.

2. Grease a large bowl with the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil. Add the dough and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Put in a warm area and let it double in size, about 1 hour.

3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 2 equal pieces. Cover each with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let them rest for 10 minutes. Roll into 14” circles, load with top-pings and bake.

Note: Using bread flour will give you a much crisper crust. If you can’t find bread flour, you can substitute it with all-purpose flour, which will give you a chewier crust.

Wine or Beer?

When it comes to what beverage to pair with your pizza, there is an argument between wine and beer. Jeff Noffsinger, owner of Origins, a woodfired pizza and wine bar in Loveland, knows his stuff and his recommendation?

An Italian red wine is the perfect pairing. “I highly recommend the Rodano Chianti Classico with my pizza,” he says.