Ooni has been around for 10 years and is based in Scotland, of all places. They make a range of pizza ovens, including models suitable for camping and caravanning. They claim to be the first maker of portable wood-fired pizza ovens anywhere and have introduced a wide range of gas and wood-fired models. But the gas version seems most appropriate for travel.
The Ooni Koda 12 is a reasonably compact 40cm x 30cm x 63cm and weighs a modest 9.25kg, so taking it with you in a van isn't a big problem, especially as the legs fold up and you can purchase an optional carry cover with handles to protect and transport it.
The Koda is ready to use straight out of the box. It’s just a matter of finding a suitable outdoor space, hooking it to a gas bottle, installing the 33cm cordierite pizza stone and firing it up. Cordierite is a naturally occurring rock and is used widely in pizza ovens where it’s able to endure extreme temperatures.
The kit had a new LCC27 gas fitting for the new black top gas bottles. Older fittings screw straight into the Ooni if you don't have a new-style bottle. Also, with our kit, we received a pizza peel, a digital thermometer, a cutting wheel and a dual-sided grizzle plate for cooking steaks and so on. For those like me who didn't know, a peel is a wide spatula for launching the pizza into the hot oven and retrieving it.
The Koda heated to around 400c in around 15 minutes, and it was ready for the first pizza we prepared earlier. A handy instruction booklet comes with the oven for advice on preparation and cooking, but I wasn't prepared for how fast the action is. On my first attempt, the front edge of the pizza burned. I just wasn't prepared for how quickly they cooked. You need to turn them with the peel very quickly. We also made the dough too thick, and we soon modified it, so the crust was nice and crisp all the way across.
I soon got the hang of it, and the results were terrific. The flavours permeated the slice, and the pizzas were cooked to perfection in a minute. Next, we cooked some sourdough pita bread, which also turned out well after around two minutes with constant turning.
A few days later, we tried the double-sided Grizzle Plate, a cast iron base with both ribbed and flat surfaces with removable handles. Again, we heated the oven and placed a couple of steaks onto the Grizzle Plate. Similar to the pizza, they cooked to perfection in less than two minutes. Cooking on the Kona 12 is economical too. For 10 pizzas, you should use 0.4kg of gas.
I am very impressed with the quality of the OONI 12 PIZZA oven and with all the accessories, which look to be commercial kitchen grade. The Koda 12 is $649, while the peel, thermometer and carry bag are all $79.99 each. I plan to find a spot for the kit in the van, and I look forward to experimenting more when we hit the road. I reckon some frozen, correctly sized balls of dough will be just the shot for getting the cooking done quickly with a group of friends.
The Ooni website has suggestions for recipes and lots of good advice on troubleshooting.