In a world where pizza has evolved and progressed past the plain and simple, the gourmet options are plentiful. One of the most popular variations is coal fired pizza. The coal fired process is a unique and distinctive way to experience a classic dish with a more complex layered flavor and texture.
What is the Coal Fired Process?
Coal fired pizza is pizza that has been cooked in a coal fired brick oven. Coal fired pizza is the favored style of some of America’s oldest pizzerias, including New York City’s first pizzeria, opened in 1905. It is an American North East and Neapolitan hybrid of crispy exterior and bready inside. This unique contrast of texture gives the pizza an overall chewiness that is delightful to the taste.
For many, a coal fired pizza is the perfect blend of delicious charred flavor in its crust and a clear natural flavor from all the other ingredients of the pie. The magic of a coal fired pizza is a perfectly cooked crust, without overcooked toppings.
How is Coal Fired Pizza made?
The coal fired process begins with ovens heated up to 800-1000º F, reaching a temperature ideal for crispy thin crust pizza. However, what really makes the coal fired process interesting is the type of coal used to fuel the oven, which burns hotter than common bituminous coal.
Our coal fired ovens use “clean coal” which is environmentally sound. As a result of the intense heat produced from these ovens, mastering the coal fired process is no easy feat. Pizza-makers have learned to layer types of charcoal to better control the heat. Because of such strong heat, the coal fired process does not include lengthy cook time. Pizzas are done within two to three minutes of cooking. This speedy time can be attributed to the high dry heat that is held within the brick lined oven walls.
The coal fired ovens also allow the pizza to cook directly on the oven floor, giving the crust a perfectly toasted bottom – not burnt, not too doughy, but just right.
Why does it make a difference?
While coal fired pizza is often compared to wood fired pizza, the differences of the coal fired process are vast and numerous. While traditional wood-fired ovens burn between 400 and 500º F and cook for around 90 seconds, coal fired pizzas cook at hotter temperatures, but longer. Coal fired pizzas tend to be larger than wood-fired pizzas, and will layer the cheese before the sauce, in a reverse process of wood fired pizzas.
However, the biggest difference the coal fired process produces is the texture of the pizza. Wood fired pizzas are often soft and “wet,” while the coal fired pizza is crispy and charred on the outside, but with a stable and chewy center.
Why is it good?
The coal fired pizza process produces what some consider the best of both worlds. A bit of outer crunch accompanied by a tender middle, creating a blend of textures and in turn, a delectable culinary experience.
While the crust is only half of the pizza, it is one of the most essential parts, central to the entire operation. So, a well-cooked crust is crucial to the whole pizza and that is why the coal fired process makes pizza so delicious!
While the coal fired process has gained a lot of popularity as of late, and despite originating in New York, you can get great coal fired pizza here in Rhode Island. Providence Coal Fired Pizza is rated the 47th Best Pizza in America. Check out their menu to see the many types of pizzas they offer.
If you’d like to learn more about what makes coal fired pizza distinct, check out our blog on coal fired vs wood fired pizza.