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Hello from Tujunga CA - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community


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Hello from Tujunga CA

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  • Hello from Tujunga CA

    I have been lurking for 2 years here - one day... I will actually build a wood fired oven. For now I will be content with my oven. I found this site when I was getting ready to make pizza. I have a Wolf Dual Fuel Convection which has a separate element and baking stone for bread and pizza. I have made some breads over the years, but with many trips to our dear friends in Florence and a recent trip sailing in Amalfi, pizza vera napolitana has become an obsession to achieve. Now the wood fired oven is a new obsession.

    For the time being I have ordered beautiful flour from James, have access here in Los Angeles to mozarella di bufala and san marzano tomatos, so I have been attempting to get crust right with my oven config. I am finally starting to see some actual crust come out correctly. Boy does it take practice. My best success is with my 550 degrees convection setting (preheated 1 hour) and pizza dough that I have had sitting in the fridge or frozen and re-thawed. That aged dough makes the best airy and springy dough which tastes mature. Same day dough has still too much yeasty flavor. The less handled the better or it gets tough.

    I am trying to work out the sauce with the tomatos. Still not there yet, but my latest desire is to pull out my Weber and put my other old Williams Sonoma bread stone on it and see what I get. I'm wondering if anyone has tried the Weber? If so, do you put the coals on the sides, the grill on, and the stone on top? Any venting tips? If nobody has tried this, I'll let you know what I find.

    My latest favorite to do for a quick after work appetizer is to make a pizza with just home made pesto and then put parmesan (real not the canned kind) shavings all over it. I'm also making foccaccia with kalamata olive slices and a bit of sea salt and olive oil.

    You guys have been inspiring me for 2 years and you make me jealous of your beautiful ovens - so glad to be a voyeur here.

    Nice to meet you all - see you around here. I will post some pics soon.

  • #2
    Re: Hello from Tujunga CA

    Welcome, Barbara.

    I believe the stone on the barbecue has been well described on pizzamaking.com. We have used a stone on our natural gas weber prior to the completion of our oven, but natural gas is not as hot as propane so we were still in the 550 range. Now when I want excellent barbecue/searing I place my weber grill on bricks in the oven over hot coals - much better than our weber, but not as quick to heat up. Bistecca Fiorentine this way is superb.


    • #3
      Can you post your recipe, Barbara?

      Hi, Barbara,

      Since you wrote that you have had some success with your pizza dough, even in a conventional oven, would you care to share your recipe?

      If so, consider posting it on one of the Cooking sub-forums on this site.


      "Everything should be made as simple as possible, ...
      but no simpler!" (Albert Einstein)


      • #4
        Re: Hello from Tujunga CA

        Welcome aboard Barbara,

        Enjoy the flour -- it really is nice, and I don't think there is anything else out there like it. Sailing along the Amalfi coast doesn't sound too bad either!

        We have a section in the FB Forum for pizza stone baking, and I am a big fan of pizza stones. I would love to build up a growing collection of helpful postings there.

        Pizza Ovens
        Outdoor Fireplaces


        • #5
          Re: Hello from Tujunga CA

          One more thing. We put together a one page description on making sauce with San Marzano tomatotes. It's here; let me know what you think.

          Pizza Ovens
          Outdoor Fireplaces


          • #6
            Re: Hello from Tujunga CA

            Hello Barbara, I'm really pretty new to FB and WFO's but have made pizza in the oven for a long time before....couple of thoughts.....I found the lowest rack in the hottest oven worked best....that way the crust could cook before you burned the top if higher up. I always put too many toppings on anyway. If your crust needs more cooking, a pre heated pizza stone might help.

            And for fresh sauce, we reduce the tomatoes until there is no free liquid. ( Various options include throwing in some wine, olive oil, garlic, onions, honey, and spices too! ) I've been known to cheat and add tomato paste to thicken it up too. I don't mind the peels but Vaughn likes to skin them first.

            Welcome and good luck.
            sigpicTiempo para guzarlos..... ...enjoy every sandwich!


            • #7
              Re: Hello from Tujunga CA

              That's a good point. The theory is that the high heat of a wood-fired oven will reduce a fresh tomato sauce to a nice, tasty consistency and flavor. That is one reason you can use an uncooked San Marzano sauce in a brick oven without it becoming too watery.

              For pizza stone cooking at about 500&#186;F-550&#186;F, either on a Weber (gas or charcoal) or in a conventional oven (gas or electric), you might want to reduce the sauce a little (though not too much).

              Last edited by james; 02-07-2007, 01:23 PM.
              Pizza Ovens
              Outdoor Fireplaces


              • #8
                Re: Hello from Tujunga CA

                One more thing. A can of real San Marzano tomatoes are peeled and whole, but nice and meaty and soft, so you can mash them without worrying about the skin or having to use something mechanical to mash them into a nice sauce.
                Pizza Ovens
                Outdoor Fireplaces


                • #9
                  Re: Hello from Tujunga CA

                  Thanks James, Xabia Jim and Marcel. A lot of extremely helpful information here. The biggest issue I currently have is the sauce which now makes sense after reading above - it has been too watery. I have used a tomato mill, I will try just using a potato masher. The mill works pretty well and it will eliminate the skins but I definitely have a water problem. I will try your recipies above for sauce and I am sure they will improve, the redux is what I need to do.

                  I have a very special oven configuration - it is not something you would find in a regular oven.

                  My new Wolf range (gas on top stove, electric ovens) has at the very bottom of the oven a separate plug for a heating element for bread and the bread stone. You remove a ceramic cover, plug in a separate electric element which sits on the floor of the oven, then you insert a rack with the stone directly on top of the element (small space as it fits into a slot). The oven has 2 convection fans, you set the setting on "stone" which turns on the bottom element and the convection and so I have a really great way to make bread. It works very well, but the mfgr temp recommendation is far too low and so I hike it to 550 and I am getting much better results. The bread doesn't get super brown or I wind up burning the cheese (with mozzarela di buffala it is something you have to be careful of) but the crust cooks through.

                  It takes about 5 minutes or less now that I have the heat at 550. I get really great oven spring - it is a beautiful sight, and since I have been using the flour from James it is vastly improved.

                  This is not a normal setup, and I am having really great results because of the feature. The tomato sauce has eluded me, and now I think I will be on the right track - I will try your recipe and reduce it.

                  I am using your dough recipe without oil (I tried it both ways). I have made about 16 pizzas on about 10 different sessions.

                  My discovery for getting the crust to the right consistency - you have to age the dough.

                  When I make the dough the same day, especially if I start mid day, it tastes too yeasty or too floury. I have an idea of why this is:
                  1. Not enough time for the ingriedients to ferment together
                  2. Not enough yeast spores from continuous bread making in my kitchen

                  So what I do now is make 2 of the 4 pizzas and wrap up the other balls after pizza making and put them in the fridge or freezer. In the fridge the dough continues to ferment and make nice little bubble craters. I pull out the frozen or refrigerated dough the next day or months later and let them come up and sit at room temp for as long as possible. Often the dough then feels much nicer in hand or tempered and you can pull a pizza with great ease - all I do with the ball is flatten it quick and pull it. In the oven the bubbles in the dough give the crust the crunch and the flavor is perfect. It is also BEAUTIFUL. Very airy texture and cooks fast.

                  If I don't age the dough, the crust is too toothy and tastes "green" or not bread like. It is still good, but doesn't compare to crust I have had in Italy.

                  I will really be interested to test the Weber Kettle - I have this idea that the shape of the dome and the heat will be far closer to the brick oven - while not perfect, will be much more like pizza in my memory.