Hooray! Welcome to the third segment of my week-long series on the PizzaQue portable oven. We’ve covered the claims from the manufacturer, you got the low-down on my very first firing of the oven, and now today you finally get to see what this extremely portable oven bakes like. Today I’m going to be telling you all about the first few pizzas I baked on the pizza oven, some tips and and tricks I discovered while baking, and my overall impression of the oven itself. Plus, lots of videos and photos too! I’ve spent a good amount of time with this awesome backyard pizza oven and I have a lot to share – let’s get right into it, shall we?
The First Pizza
Following with my now set-in-stone pattern of completely ignoring the instruction booklet, I cranked the pizza oven all the way up and let it preheat for a full 30 minutes while I prepped my ingredients and got the camera gear together. At minute thirty, we were sitting right around 530 degrees Fahrenheit on the surface of the stone and were at about 730 degrees in the chamber of the oven. Perfect for a first outing.
Below you can see the time-lapse of the first pizza cooking up in the PizzaQue. Total cook time clocked in at a speedy 2:51. I’ve sped the video up a bit in the middle so you don’t have to sit through it in real time.
As this was not the first oven I had blatantly disregarded the manufacturer recommendations with, I got what I expected out of this quick, hot, bake time: a pie that was overdone on bottom and underdone on top. Because the heat source is applied directly to the pizza stone and because I had tried to bake as hot and fast as possible I had created an imbalanced environment inside the oven that was never going to produce the perfect pie I was after. But I did have to try, right? Right! Below are some pics of the imbalanced pizza.
As you can see there, the cheese is melted – and the dough is certainly cooked all the way through – but there should be a LOT more caramelization up top and the dark char on the bottom made for a very ashy burnt taste in the mouth. Again, totally the result of a hair-brained testing run – not at all what you should expect from this portable oven… well, unless you’re as flippant with the rules as I am I suppose. Onward!
TIP: Use your peel to rotate your pizza sooner rather than later. Since the back of the oven is more hot than the front, you can’t wait for the pizza to start looking done before rotating it. If the front of the pizza looks good and you haven’t turned it yet – you’ve just burned yourself a pizza.
So why did I fail on my first time out? It was all about heat management. I kind of pulled a Spinal Tap, cranked the thing to 11, and called it good. What I needed was a little restraint when it came to that magic baking number. For my dough, at my hydration levels, 700+ was just too hot for me. I backed the throttle down on the portable oven to somewhere in-between “high” and “medium” and got ready for round two:
As you can see, I managed to achieve a slightly more balanced bake in my second pie, but still not great. I was beginning to see more char up top and less on the bottom, but I still wasn’t in the “this is amazing pizza” range that I wanted to be. I needed to continue to experiment to find the temperature setting that worked for me.
Going for a third
It was time to back the burner down and get to a much more realistic temperature for my third pizza. Fortunately, the PizzaQue has a convenient knob right up front for just such an adjustment. I rotated it again and settled just a tiny bit above “medium” giving the portable oven time to come down to my new baking temperature. Time for round three:
As you can see, turning the portable oven down to the “medium” range of the burner produced significantly better results!
Overall Impressions of the Portable Oven
This backyard pizza oven is pretty darn great. To me, the two biggest features to write home about are the extreme portability of the oven and the great thermal engineering. I can truly confirm, you could bring this portable oven anywhere and fire it on anything without worrying about warping or destroying the surface. It also heats up in an impressive 15 minutes and it’s got enough BTUs to let you burn your food if you so choose. If I had to offer up a criticism of the PizzaQue by Pizzacraft, it would be the difficulty of knowing when to rotate your pies midway through cooking. It’s near impossible to see the far side of the pizza, so you basically have to train yourself to start checking for doneness about two minutes in. Considering this would be an issue for even the most expensive custom brick oven, this criticism is not unique to the PizzaQue by any means.
One piece of advice I would heartily offer up: do not plan a pizza party for your very first firing of this pizza oven. I would recommend you purchase this oven and then perform at least two practice baking sessions (if not more) before you roll it out in front of an audience. Even if you’re already used to baking your favorite dough at high temperatures, you’re going to want to learn your new piece of gear and figure out your magic baking temperature before you have hungry mouths to feed.
One more, just for fun:
If you’ve enjoyed this post and would like to get some more pizza love right in your inbox, consider signing up for the newsletter , would ya? If email isn’t your thing, you can support this blog just by shopping on Amazon.com for the stuff you already buy by first clicking through from this site. Thanks for the support and talk to you soon!