This weekend I put the cover on the Uuni and packed it away carefully until spring, but before I do I wanted to write up a few more Uuni pizza making tips that I learned while cooking more pies for friends and family this fall. You can also check out my first batch of Uuni pizza tips from when it was fresh out of the box.
I’m sure you could still use the Uuni on the deck in the snow and cold, but I have enough trouble balancing and maintaining the oven’s heat when nature isn’t working against me, so I’ll be moving all the pie making indoors until it thaws out in the spring.
Here are more tips that I’ve learned in cooking over 50 pies in the Uuni2s this year.
Bleed off heat for the first pie
This seems a little backward. You spend 15 minutes heating the oven up and then you want to lower the temperature before you even cook? Yes. After absolutely charring the first pie to a blackened mess session after session, I’ve taken to heating the oven up and then venting it a bit by taking the door off for 30 seconds or so until the temperature comes down below 800. I then put in the pie and cook as normal. I’m now not sacrificing the first one to the char gods. They are actually edible and cooked on both the top and the bottom?
Why not just heat it up for less time? I think the long and hot heat up time works well to sufficiently heat up the stone and helps with the overall retention of heat for the whole cooking session, however the initial oven state was just too hot for that first pie.
Pay attention to the pellet hopper
Careful care and attention to the pellet hopper is the most important aspect of a successful Uuni bake. When I say the pellet hopper, I’m referring to both the tube and the metal grate where the pellets collect and burn. Once it’s up and running, the Uuni is a hungry beast and you need to make sure you are filling the tube and providing a constant supply of fuel.
It’s a balancing act. You can’t just keep shoveling new pellets in or they will stifle the existing heat. After it’s up and going, I like to add one to two scoops after each pizza has baked and I’m prepping the next one.
The other thing to pay attention to is the hopper basket itself. If you give the hopper a little shake once in awhile you can spread out the pellets and get better heat spreading through the oven. If you don’t do this, the pellets tend to stack up under the hopper pipe and you lose some efficiency.
Par bake and prep ahead for a party
The biggest issue I have with the Uuni is not the cooking but the workflow. You need to be hands on the whole time. You cannot stop to socialize or even eat the pizza. You need to be prepping and baking the next one! I rarely break out the Uuni unless we are entertaining. The extra time and effort to use the Uuni for just my family and a few pies is reserved for special occasions.
There aren’t a lot of workaround for this one, but I have found that if you parbake the crusts just slightly and prep all your ingredients, it can speed up the workflow. You might not have time to stop and chat, but you can get the pizzas on the table pretty fast and might even get to enjoy a slice or two when it’s still warm.
Flip the stone each time
A simple one, but I thought I’d pass it along. Each time you bake, flip the pizza stone over to “clean” in. You can use soap and warm water to wash a stone, but it’s not really necessary and exposing it to moisture can weaken it over time. Just as effective is to let the high temperatures obliterate any food or dough particles on the stone. Who wants to spend time washing more dishes if you don’t have to.
Move back on the stone the longer you bake
As you are coming to the last dough round or two, you should begin to lessen the amount of pellets you add to the hopper (unless you have pellets to spare, then be my guest and keep it topped off as long as you want). As you slow the stream of fuel, the oven will begin to cool down. I like to shift the list couple pizzas farther back on the stone and closer to the fire to most effectively use the heat without burning more pellets.
The Uuni is a fun little oven and definitely worth the price and space saving if you can’t invest in a larger more permanent wood burning oven. I don’t regret buying it in the least. It definitely has a few nuances and quirks, but I’m guessing most outdoor wood ovens do as well and part of the fun of cooking with them is to learn how to finesse those quirks into a unique pie that you can’t get anywhere but your backyard. I hope these Uuni tips are helpful. Happy (wood-fired) cooking!