We don’t know about you, but we’ve fallen in love with the amazing wood-fired ovens from Cru. These stainless-steel beauties were custom-made in Portugal for optimal performance. We adore them for cooking everything from wood-fired pizza to steak and veggies.
Of course, starting a new relationship with such an impressive partner can be overwhelming. So, you may feel a little pressure to make the most out of your time with your cutting-edge Cru oven.
We get it. We felt the same way with ours.
That’s why we’ve put together this little guide to help you get started with your Cru. In it, we’ll help you get to know your Cru, find the best wood for your Cru pizza oven and learn some best practices for wood-fired cooking.
By the end, you and your Cru oven will be ready to ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after! Let’s get started, shall we?
Get to Know Your Cru Oven
You can’t go wrong with any of Cru’s amazing models for cooking pizza and other foods. What we love most about these ovens is they’re all strictly wood-fired ovens, not gas-powered. So, a Cru oven is an excellent choice for those of us who can’t get enough of that authentic wood-fired taste.
Each Cru oven has its advantages for wood-fired cooking. Here are some important facts to know about Cru’s three main models before you get started cooking.
The Cru Oven Model 30 Provides Compact Cooking Power
Cru’s most compact and portable oven has enough space to cook a 12-inch pizza with tiny pizza oven wood. You can also comfortably fit small loaves of bread, pieces of meat, fish and vegetables in its 13-inch-wide mouth.
The small oven achieves high heat relatively quickly as it can get up to around 700°F after only 15 minutes and can get to 900°F at full heat. And it can cook a personal pizza in just four minutes.
Another great thing about the Cru 30 is it comes with a pizza peel and ash rake. The former tool makes it easy to transfer your pizza in and out of the oven, and the latter is super handy for moving the wood around inside the oven.
We also love how easy it is to transport the Cru 30. It’s only 33 pounds, making it easy to carry. Cru makes this extra easy by offering a specially designed carrying bag for the 30 on its website. You can also remove the oven’s chimney to make it even simpler to transport.
The Cru 32 Pizza Oven Offers More Space for Cooking and Roasting
The Cru 32 oven provides more versatility than the 30 because of its larger cooking space. Its opening is 16-inches wide and 11.8-inches tall, creating more opportunities for a variety of cooking options. You can cook a 15-inch pizza, two smaller personal pizzas, multiple loaves of bread, multiple pieces of meat and more.
The oven also comes with two different doors for different styles of cooking. The half door is perfect for cooking pizzas and other high-heat dishes. The full door is great for roasting and over-the-coal baking because it keeps in the flavor.
Like the 30, the Cru 32 pizza oven can get to around 900°F at the hottest. And it comes with a built-in thermometer to help you easily keep track of how hot things are getting in there.
The Cru Champion Oven is Their Biggest Model Yet
Cru’s newest, largest model yet is for wood-fired chefs who are serious about getting the most out of their cooking. The 24 x 24-inch cooking surface provides plenty of space for cooking an 18-inch pizza with large firewood.
The Champion cooks pizzas quickly when the oven door is open. But you can also close the door and slow roast meat or bake loaves of bread.
Like the other models, the Cru Champion can reach around 900°F in as little as 20 minutes. It also has a thermometer built right in so that you can easily keep track of how hot the oven is getting.
How to Choose the Best Wood for Cru Pizza Ovens
Clearly, each of these ovens is primed for high-quality cooking. But what good is a great wood-fired oven if you fuel it with low-quality wood? So, don’t waste your time spent cooking with Cru on anything less than the best wood for cooking!
We’re here to help you with some guidelines for picking the right wood for your Cru. The three most important factors for your Cru wood fuel are size, quality and type. Here’s what to keep in mind for each of these factors.
The Best Size Wood for Cru Ovens
Both the Cru 30 and 32 models have relatively small openings and cooking surfaces. So, you won’t want wood that will take up too much space and crowd out your pizza.
The best size for these smaller ovens is 6-inch extra split wood. The 6-inch length and 1-2-inch diameter of this wood will fit easily into the space. Around 6-8 pieces of this tiny wood should be enough to get the Cru 30 and 32 up to a high enough heat.
As for the larger Champion, you will be best served with full-sized 16-inch firewood to produce the necessary heat. This firewood for Cru ovens will fit snugly in the 24-inch-long by 24-inch-wide cooking space and cook your food thoroughly. Four pieces of 16-inch firewood should be enough to get the Cru up to the temperature you need for a wood-fired pizza.
Cru-Quality Wood = Kiln-Dried Wood
A high-performing oven like the Cru deserves wood that lives up to its high standards. The wood needs to light quickly and burn efficiently to achieve the temperatures necessary for cooking in a Cru oven.
Only kiln-dried wood can meet and exceed these expectations. This type of wood has been heat-treated and dried in a kiln for 48 hours to remove most of its moisture. The controlled process guarantees that the wood will have a moisture content below 20%.
Why is this level of moisture important? Because wood below the 20% threshold creates the best possible burns. It ignites easily, sometimes with only one match, and burns at its maximum heat potential, producing minimal smoke or creosote. Kiln-drying also purifies the wood from any invasive insects or mold, which you definitely don’t want in your cooking wood!
In short, kiln-drying removes all barriers to getting the best performance from your wood. Therefore, kiln-dried firewood will enable you to get the most out of your Cru pizza oven.
Experiment with Different Types of Wood in Your Cru
Cru ovens allow you to explore the possibilities of wood-fired cooking for a variety of different foods—not just pizza. So, you don’t have to limit yourself to one type of wood either.
Instead, we recommend trying out some of the top cooking wood flavors available, including:
- Sugar maple
Oak is the most popular type of wood for cooking because of its high heat content and neutral flavored smoke. It’s a great, safe choice.
However, if you’re feeling a little adventurous, you might also want to try adding some sweet flavor to your cooking with cherry or sugar maple wood. Both are especially great options for wood-firing pizzas or roasting meat with your Cru oven.
You can also add some great flavor to your pizzas with ash wood, which is the choice of top Italian chefs for cooking wood-fired pizzas. Or you could go with hickory wood, which adds a delicious bacon-like barbeque flavor to meat.
These incredible ovens make it fun to experiment. So, don’t hold yourself back. Play around to see what remarkable dishes you can create!
Tips for Cooking with a Cru Oven
So, you’ve got a great oven and the best wood. Now it’s time to get cooking! Here are some tips for getting the most out of cooking with your Cru oven.
Strategically Place Your Wood
Start the fire in your oven by getting the wood lit in the center of the cooking surface. It will take about 15-20 minutes to get a good burn going. You’ll also want to add more pieces of wood as you go to get it burning nice and hot.
What you do with the wood next will depend on what you’re cooking with it. For wood-fired pizzas, you will want to push the wood to the back of the oven and place the pizza in front of it. From this location, the wood should effectively heat both the dome and the stone to get your pizza cooking.
For cooking other types of food, we recommend a more even distribution of the wood in the oven. Spread the embers all over the heating surface to cook meat and poultry, broil fish or sear vegetables over them. It works great to grill both chicken and red meat right on the coals of the oven. However, Cru also offers a grill grid, which works great for barbecuing above the flames.
Regularly Rotate Your Pizzas
Don’t set your pizza in your Cru oven and forget it! Instead, make sure you keep a close eye on your pizza and rotate it as it’s cooking. You’ll want to rotate the pie every 20 seconds or so to keep any side from getting too burnt. You’ll know the crust is ready when it’s bubbly and golden brown.
Check out this video from Cru’s YouTube channel to see what this process looks like in action.
Choose the Right Temperature
Aside from properly placing your wood and tending to your wood-fired creations, you’ll also want to monitor your oven’s temperature.
According to Cru, the ideal temperature for cooking pizzas in their ovens is around 700°F. This will give you a very crispy crust. If you want a softer crust, you can choose a lower temperature of 500-600°F.
They also recommend 350°F for roasting chicken to keep it moist and around 400°F for roasting red meat.
Of course, these are just suggestions. Ultimately, the decision for how hot to cook belongs to you, the master wood-fired chef! So, enjoy the ability the best wood in a Cru oven gives you to cook at whatever temperature you see fit!
What Will You Cook with Your Cru?
We hope your life together with your Cru pizza oven is full of flaming hot deliciousness. If you need help getting that relationship started on the right foot, we’d be happy to supply the wood fuel.
We deliver conveniently packed boxes of perfectly sized kiln-dried wood with free two-day shipping throughout the United States. Our 6-inch extra split wood fits great in the smaller Cru ovens, and our 16-inch firewood is ideal for the Champion. You can also choose from a variety of flavors, including oak, hickory, sugar maple, cherry and more!
Please visit our shop page to learn more about our wood. You can also follow us on Instagram @hotboxcookingwood for more updates on everything wood-fired cooking. And be sure to tag us if you make something particularly photo-worthy with your wood!