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lwood 12-19-2010 05:19 PM

Get some help...if you can
This past week-end we had back-to-back pizza parties and I had my good friend Raffy (from this site) come down from Manila and help me. Raffy is a true pizzaiolo. He worked in Cebu for his Sicilian brother-in-law. It was truly a revelation. He straightened me out on so many things, my head is spinning. Everything from bringing me a beautiful SS peel and paddle shovel, with long handles...getting to know my oven, heat management, dough prep and opening the dough ("opening the dough" thats a new term for me). Opening the dough refers to the process from dough ball to a finished stretched-out, ready to top, on the peel, pizza dough. If you think about it, it really describes the process well.

My preparation of dough the night before he arrived proved to be a good lesson in how hydration effects the end resulting pizza crust. Basically his hydration level was much lower than what I have been using. I was hydrating to the point where the dough just pulled away from the sides of the mixer. Raffy's prep was much drier than mine. Once mixed and kneaded in the mixer, his dough was dry to the touch. Not sticky at all, much like play dough. We cold-proofed in the morning and used them that night. The resultant pizzas were very different acting, both in opening the dough and baking. Raffy's dough was very easy to handle and open....particularly in the speed at witch I was able to open the dough. Raffy's was sooo much faster. The most dramatic difference was how the crust formed bubbles. The higher hydration (my dough) formed much more and larger bubbles...resulting in a lot of character, very soft silky interior and a thin crispy crust and a smaller pizza. Not necessarily bad, just different. Raffy's still had nice bubbles, just not as many, and almost as light and fluffy. The higher hydration was nice for a residential situation, but Raffy's was much more geared to a commercial environment. Wish I had pics showing the difference, but no time to take pics and cook pizza at the same time.

I could go on for pages about all the different revelations I had with Raffy here. I guess my point is that, if you have a chance to get some expert hands-on help, training, get-togethers with other FB participants, cooking classes, what ever, do it. It's well worth it.

All-in-all, it was a great Christmas opening for the resort and my pizza skills. Happy baking and Merry Christmas.:)

C5dad 12-20-2010 05:04 AM

Re: Get some help...if you can
An hour with a Master is well worth the expense and the lowering of the learning curve! It is cool that you can call a friend who happens to be a master if needed!

How is Cebu? My dad is winter visiting the island right now.

Dino_Pizza 12-20-2010 09:49 AM

Re: Get some help...if you can
Great info. Raffy's helping you AND me out. I'll have to try a slightly lower hydration level as well with a different batch, side by side. I can see how in a commercial situation (larger pizza rounds, a bit more toppings) are better served with a slightly drier dough. Nice to know it bubbles up good too.

Philippines is definitely on my 'must-visit' list. Tropical weather and wfo pizza...what could be a better Christmas?

Cheers, Dino

lwood 12-20-2010 04:59 PM

Re: Get some help...if you can
Glad it helped Dino, it makes a world of difference in the workability during opening the dough.

Christmas in the Philippines is very special. We are just getting out of the rainy/typhoon season, so we have lots of welcome sunshine. I am in South Luzon in the Bicol region, but the weather is pretty much the same all over the archipelago. Here is a link to our facebook page => Stonehouse Gardens Resort | Facebook. I hope i'm not breaking the rules by posting this.

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