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First Pizza

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  • First Pizza

    So, after a series of curing fires, I got my oven up to raging heat yesterday evening. I started the fire around 2:00 for a 6:00 cook. At the same time I made a batch of caputo based dough, using the measured recipe.

    4 cups caputo
    1 1/2 + water
    2t salt
    2t ady

    I had set out in search of good yeast at lunchtime, the idy we hear so much about. I first went to Trader Joes ("Yeast is a seasonal item" sniffed the sales clerk "come back in late October") but still spent 20 bucks for stuff I didn't need.
    My local classy grocery store (Kings) had packets labeled "Oetker Yeast Levure" which on the back said no need to disolve yeast, just add to the dry ingredients. That sounded like the stuff.

    I stirred it together, let it set 10 minutes, kneaded it briefly, and put it back in the bowl, with a piece of cling wrap on top to avoid that nasty crusty skin. I put it in a warm place, and went back to shoving logs in the oven with wild abandon.

    At five o'clock I divided the dough ball into quarters (It had risen a LOT and had a pronounced alcohol smell, like the co-worker no one wants to work with on Monday morning) I formed nice balls and left them on the counter for an hour or so. Come six, I pushed the fire, which at this point was mostly coals and a couple of half burned logs, over to the right side, and concerned about getting the pizza on the floor while it was still hot, rushed back into the kitchen. On my new wood peel, i stretched out one of the dough balls. Boy is this stuff extensible. It was as thin as a condom in the center before I got it stretched out at the edge. I splotched some crushed tomato, and put some slices of mozz and peperoni on, and after some aggressive shaking, got the pizza onto the oven floor. It immediately started puffing up on the edges, and soon after starts bubbling like a volcano in the center. I try to do the rotate with the turning peel thing, but it's sort of like trying to rotate a puddle. So I'm sitting there trying to rotate this thing, waiting for it to turn brown around the edge, and it doesn't occur to me to lift the edge and look underneath.



    Here's the white on top - black on the bottom result. I guess I didn't have to worry so much about how hot the oven floor was. Not all was a disaster, the edge had really good puffiness:



    And the overall look was pretty good:



    Slices from my first two pizzas.
    My geodesic oven project: part 1, part 2

  • #2
    Re: First Pizza

    Wow, you've started already. Nice spring. How was the balance of crisp/foldability in the crust? I'm interested to see you pizza building progress in relation to your oven build - no pressure.

    Marc

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: First Pizza

      My third attempt was the most successful, I had cut down the toppings to four slices of mozz, eight little hormel pepperoni rounds and just a splash of tomato. I had remembered the trick of dumping the tomato into a strainer to de-water it. I watched it in the oven like a hawk, and when it started to get brown i used the turning peel to "sky" it and get some browning on the top edge. This worked OK, but of course it stuck to the peel.



      The curious shape is due to the fact that I poked a hole in the skin stretching it out, and had to fold it over to repair it. Note the browning around the edge.



      A bottom view, including a part of the broken-through place.

      So, a request for comments. I am serving pizza to five or six people on Sunday. I need to know how how to stretch out a skin so it has some dough in the center.

      The taste of the pizza was, i suspect, mostly burnt bench flour. Where do I get this rice flour I hear so much about? Is it a Chinese grocery item?

      Should I be making my dough days in advance and cold retarding it? How much less yeast should I use if I do that? Is the cold retard only for the second rise?

      Thanks for your help.
      My geodesic oven project: part 1, part 2

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: First Pizza

        Originally posted by maver View Post
        Wow, you've started already. Nice spring. How was the balance of crisp/foldability in the crust?
        I wasn't wild about the texture, it was sort of limp and tough. I don't have a thermometer gun yet, but I suspect I'm running about fifty degrees too hot for my skill level.
        My geodesic oven project: part 1, part 2

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: First Pizza

          Originally posted by dmun View Post
          I wasn't wild about the texture, it was sort of limp and tough. I don't have a thermometer gun yet, but I suspect I'm running about fifty degrees too hot for my skill level.
          I guess the oven hearth is too hot, it should cook mostly from the top..
          bread bakers use a spray bottle with water to spray the dome and floor.. experiment with that
          put the pizza edge closer to the coal/fire and turn every 30. sec or until it's puffing and slightly burned on the edge(that's the best part)
          also sound like maybe you used too much yeast, the slower it raises the better, use sea salt if you can
          do it one day ahead and set in the fridge take it out only 2-3 hours prior to baking or less if you live in a warm place.
          You should stretch the dough from the center out it is not as easy as people think.. practice

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          • #6
            Re: First Pizza

            Dmun,

            You should be able to find brown rice flour at health food stores, organic markets, dedicated flour suppliers, etc. It shouldn't be that hard to find.

            The cold retardation is only done after the bulk fermentation and shaping of the dough balls.

            Jim
            "Made are tools, and born are hands"--William Blake, 1757-1827

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: First Pizza

              Congrats Dmun,

              I found rice flour at our local King Soopers, it was in the health food section. Look for the Bob's Red Mill packages. I use regular flour for pizza though. I have been using the rice flour for breads.

              And not to contradict Jim (can you tell I am about to ), but the Peter Reinhardt recipe for Pizza in the bread bakers apprentice calls for using cold water and only a small amount of yeast, mixing/kneading the dough and immediately shaping and retarding. This is a very low maintenance way of doing it, since I can create a big batch of dough and get it into the fridge shaped right away. For example, I can get home from work on Friday night and make dough, shape it, get it into the fridge and still make my poker game at 7 PM...Then Saturday around 1.5 hours before I am ready to cook, I take the pizza balls out of the fridge and let them rise. Also, I found the SAF instant yeast both at williams sonoma and mail order from King Arthur flour. Much much cheaper (well, same price bigger box) from KA.

              Drake
              My Oven Thread:
              http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f8/d...-oven-633.html

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: First Pizza

                Drake,

                No contradiction taken. Reinhart's recipe is a special case. I make his Ancienne baguette every week. I was really referring to a more conventional formula, such as the one recommended by FB for Caputo. There are many, many ways to do this, but both the FB and the Reinhart formulas are about the best out there.

                Jim
                "Made are tools, and born are hands"--William Blake, 1757-1827

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: First Pizza

                  I've been using wild yeast for a while, but I think this advice is still valid. The biggest AHA! moment for me with pizza (and my current bread dough) was to really let it get busy with the bulk fermentation - give it time to really double. I think I was afraid to let it over rise - but in the bulk fermentation I have never seen that with either wild or commercial yeast. Once it has risen, you can shape dough balls and retard in the fridge. When you shape dough balls, do it like Jim in the boule video - develop surface tension and turn it in on itself enough to align the gluten. Then let it retard at least 24 hours, 2-3 days may be better. From there, you can take it directly from the fridge to shape it. As far as shaping, look on youtube for the pazza pizzaiolo video - that flipping technique works great - avoids thin spots. I use regular flour and it does fine.

                  I'm not sure whether the uneven browning is due to an overhot floor or an underheated oven. Because you are finishing curing I would suspect underhot oven (oven has not fully moderated). Are you seeing the carbon burn off fully from the dome? My usual problem is an overhot floor - after the roaring fire I have to let it die down about 15 minutes to even the temperatures. During that moderation time the coals are on the side - the pizza area is exposed.

                  Keep having fun.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: First Pizza

                    Insted of spraying the hearth with water (which probably will evaporate before touching) I just mop the hearth a few times with a mop. Are you using cornmeal? When I was using cornmeal i got bad burns from all of the sugar content. Also try first putting the pizzas close to the door until the crust sets up enough to get the peel underneath (you will see the spilled flour on the bricks begin to brown) then when you rotate you can get the pizzas quite a bit closer to the coals. 1 last thing about pizza/ peel disasters, Ive found that if I rotate my peel (side to side motion of the handle) it loosens the pizza without tossing the toppings everywhere which is one of the main causes of the crust sticking.
                    P.S. I love reinharts pizza recipie and use it for breadsticks, bread, and sometimes crackers if I have any left over.
                    Using these techniques I have made 25 pizzas in 1.5 hrs with no problems.
                    Hope this helps.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: First Pizza

                      Ed, 25 pizzas in 1.5 hrs??? you are a pizza God. I am not worthy.
                      Seriously, any other tips??? I've gotten better, but still struggle at times. I think my biggest problem now is getting too creative, too fast. Trying different toppings, crust thicknesses, higher temps (900-950), lower temps (650-750). I guess I know my actual problems...I just can't stop doing it. Even though I've found several pizzas and techniques I do really well, I never stick with it...always trying something different the next time. I've seriously thought of starting to take notes because I'm forgetting what worked 2-3 months ago. (something my wife has been telling me for years - I do all the cooking and consider myself a pretty darned good, self taught, home chef - who doesn't believe in recipes). Its all starting to bite me in the butt with all of the variations I've done over the months and years.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: First Pizza

                        Originally posted by maver View Post
                        As far as shaping, look on youtube for the pazza pizzaiolo video - that flipping technique works great - avoids thin spots.
                        This one?

                        http://youtube.com/watch?v=GjIicOK5_MM

                        I like the twirling it around his finger and behind his back moves too. I don't think that'll happen this week. I found this video useful:

                        http://www.pmq.com/pizzatv/

                        Choose "how to make pizza dough part 3" Ignore the first two thirds of the clip, where he talks about sheeting and docking. Note how when he hand stretches, he starts out by pushing a rim out, and forming a flying saucer shape, leaving a lump in the center, which helps prevent the over thin center that I was getting.

                        All these demonstrations seem to be using a tougher and dryer dough than I'm getting with the caputo recipe.

                        I'm not sure whether the uneven browning is due to an overhot floor or an underheated oven. Because you are finishing curing I would suspect underhot oven (oven has not fully moderated). Are you seeing the carbon burn off fully from the dome? My usual problem is an overhot floor - after the roaring fire I have to let it die down about 15 minutes to even the temperatures. During that moderation time the coals are on the side - the pizza area is exposed.
                        I think my oven was too hot. I kept fueling the oven for an hour after it turned white, thinking, as usual, that more was better, then when I pushed the fire over, I rushed to prepare the pizza before it got cooler. I think firing till "white" then pushing the fire over and letting it moderate for a while is the key.
                        My geodesic oven project: part 1, part 2

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: First Pizza

                          No - not that one, this one -

                          YouTube - Il Pizzaiolo Pazzo

                          You're right, the first one looked to be too stiff a dough - more for show. The one above shows a dough that is supple. Watch that flipping move carefully - he makes it look difficult because he moves so fast and rotates as he goes. I do it slower and almost pat it back and forth - but with open hands it works very well for our higher hydration dough.

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