Hybrid oven: how to combine wood-fired and gas-fired cooking
In assessing the different home cooking appliances, the hybrid oven is perfect for people who want to try cooking with wood without giving up the convenience of the gas-fired model. So, switch between fuels and get two ovens for the price of one!
The use of hybrid ovens is increasingly widespread and even more so for outdoor kitchens as it gives the opportunity to shift from one fuel to another.
In this article, we will see in detail the advantages of the hybrid oven, explaining how it works and highlighting its ease of use and versatility.
We will start by listing the main differences between wood-burning ovens and gas-fired counterparts, retracing an article published on our blog that drew a distinction between appliances powered by alternative fuels.
We will then deepen the understanding of the technology on which Alfa hybrid ovens are based and we will explore the wide range of solutions that this type of appliance offers by matching the food with the most suitable cooking fuel.
The aim is giving you as much information as possible to help you choose the oven that best suits your needs.
Wood-fired and gas-fired ovens: the differences
Let us first clarify the differences between a wood-burning oven and a gas-fired one to make it easier for you to choose the most suitable cooking method.
The main distinctive factors concern the cooking performance and functional and structural aspects. Let us look at them:
- Differences in temperature
- Impact of fuel on the taste and smell of food
- Skills required to use the oven
- Ease of installation
- Easy cleaning
Do you want to know which is the best oven for you?
1- Differences in temperature
When we talk about temperature, we take into account the different aspects that make up the heat capacity of an oven: that is the maximum temp it can reach and its ability to maintain heat over time to get optimal cooking especially during rush hours for professional cooks.
The wood-burning oven hits temperatures that are way beyond reach for other models; which is why it is the best appliance for baking pizza. It can attain a temperature as high as 1000 °F which only the most experienced pizza makers can handle.
In reality, rarely are wood-fired ovens brought up north of 850 – 100 °F, because the higher the temp, the harder it is to cook.
In a wood-burning oven, baking is characterized by a flame that ensures even heat penetration and food browning. Firing up an oven is a balancing act that needs choosing the proper pieces of wood at the right moment.
The oven must then reach the optimum temp, a delicate process that takes 2 to 3 hours. You start with small pieces of wood and gradually increase in size until enough embers form, then add some logs every 20 minutes to maintain the fire needed for cooking.
Gas-fired ovens are not as good as the wood-fired ones in terms of temperature, as they can hit 650-700 °F at the most. However, the gas burner makes it easier to manage the fire, both for lighting the oven and for maintaining high temperatures.
In a gas-burning oven, the cooking chamber is a metal box which is better for baking pan pizzas rather than round pies (unless you place a pizza stone in it).
For this reason, modern gas-fired pizza ovens come with a refractory floor as the cooking surface and they can expose food to an open flame and reach 1000 °F like their wood-fired conterparts.
2 – Impact of fuel on the taste and smell of food
Let us now consider the second factor, which has to do with the flavour that the fuel imparts to food. Burning the right kind of wood allows you to release its natural scent which penetrates your dishes to fully develop an unparalleled smell and taste.
This is a unique feature of wood-fired ovens and, in this respect, they are a cut above the rest.
3 – Skills required to use the oven
Of course, dishes cooked in a wood-burning oven taste delicious, but a gas-fired oven is much easier to use. It takes some time and practice to master a wood-fired oven. In fact, lighting and maintaining a fire requires attention and patience.
Although state-of-the-art wood-fired ovens need less time and wood to reach the optimum temperature, managing the fire is still a tricky, albeit rewarding operation. Everything is much easier with a gas-fired oven; just set the temp and there you are!
4 – Ease of installation
In terms of installation, a wood-fired oven needs a chimney in order to remove smoke from inside and this explains why it is more used outdoors or in places with fewer structural constraints than inside a residence. Gas fired ovens don’t have the same clearance limitations and can be conveniently connected to existing mains with outdoor access or to a cylinder (the best solution for mobile ovens). In these cases, the Alfa Gas Kit comes in handy.
5 – Easy cleaning
When it comes to cleaning a wood-burning oven, nothing is as easy as it looks. Once the oven has cooled down, you must follow the right steps to wipe combustion residue off the cooking floor, not to mention the dirt from transporting and stacking wood. On the contrary, cleaning a gas-fired oven is a no-brainer and needs nothing more than routine maintenance.
Hybrid oven: the gas oven that also runs on wood
Having examined the major differences between a wood-fired oven and a gas-fired one, let us get to know the gas-wood hybrid model.
The innovation of the Alfa hybrid pizza oven is founded on the structure of our steel ovens that were developed using our ForninoxTM technology.
It consists in wood or gas-fired ovens that come with a refractory cooking floor and a dome made of layers of different types of stainless steel.
This technology has enabled us to manufacture ovens with high thermal capacity that can store heat much faster than traditional wood or gas-burning models.
By exploiting this property, we were able to produce bi-fuel ovens. Now let’s see how they work and what their main advantages are.
Do you want to know which is the best oven for you?
How the hybrid oven works
The name of the game is the Kit Hybrid, a special lid for the gas burner that protects it from the soot and the heat of the flame. The burner lid can withstand temperatures of up to 1000 °F for a long period of time. By covering or not covering the burner, you can choose which fuel to use for cooking. A wood holder is included in the kit which is very useful to keep a tidy fire inside the oven. You can go for hybrid, whether for a home oven connected to the local gas supply or for a mobile one powered by a cylinder.
No more spare gas bottles and the network is undergoing maintenance? Don’t worry, with the Kit Hybrid you can continue baking by burning wood! You will never run out of fuel to cook your marvellous Neapolitan pizzas again!
So, if you want to bake with wood, put the lid on the gas burner; if you choose gas, make sure you are connected to the mains or the gas cylinder, light the oven, set the temperature et voilà!
Versatility in cooking with the hybrid oven
The main benefit of the hybrid oven is unquestionably its versatility. Depending on the dish that you want to make, you can experience the differences in cooking with gas or wood.
In other words, you can get the best of both baking worlds, the convenience of gas and the inimitable taste of the wood. On this subject, have a look at our blog article on various recipes to cook with a wood-burning oven to match the right woods when baking food.
So, what are you waiting for? Put on the Kit Hybrid to cook with the wood or take it off to use the gas-burning oven. Either way, you will be able to bake plenty of dishes using all the range of temperatures very easily while maintaining great standards of cooking.
All Alfa steel hybrid ovens hit high temperatures in a very short time, whether they are gas-fired or wood-fired.
Alfa hybrid pizza oven
Let us now go through the Alfa models that are compatible with the installation of the Kit Hybrid.
The Alfa gas-fired ovens that can go hybrid are:
- The Brio
- The Stone Oven
Let’s briefly look at their characteristics.
1 – Brio
The Brio is Alfa’s most versatile oven; it’s available in two colors and can be installed on its customised mobile base. This sturdy but lightweight base is made of steel, comes with wheels and a compartment for stacking wood or storing a gas cylinder. The Brio is a midsized oven and can bake up to three pizzas simultaneously.
2 – Stone Oven
The Stone Oven is the smallest of Alfa’s hybrid ovens. It has an elegant design with a glass door to check the food while it’s cooking without opening and lowering the temperature. It can bake two pizzas at the same time while maintaining the thermal performances of Alfa’s larger hybrid models.
The two hybrid ovens offered in North America, meet the different needs of those who want a high-performing appliance, depending on the space available (deck, balcony, or spacious outdoor kitchen) and its intended use.
How to develop your culinary skills with the hybrid pizza oven
In this article we have seen how the hybrid oven works, its versatility and ease of use and its great culinary potential.
We started by pointing out the differences between the traditional wood-burning oven and the home gas-fired one, emphasizing how the choice of firewood does affect the flavor of food.
We then focused on the Alfa’s innovation of steel gas and wood-fired ovens leading up to the manufacturing of mobile pizza ovens.
We also mentioned the Kit Hybrid technology thanks to the special lid that protects the gas burner while using firewood.
Being able to choose between two fuels opens a world of possibilities in cookery and allows you to go one step further into experimentation.
Before concluding, we’d like to advise you to use the Alfa hybrid oven to prepare the same dish twice with the two fuels, the litmus test to appreciate the cooking features of your appliance depending on whether it runs on wood or gas.
Our hybrid ovens perform as well as commercial ones and in addition they allow you to match dishes with their right fuels.