#1  
Old 11-30-2011, 08:56 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: San Antonio
Posts: 8
Default Ciao, folks!

Howdy, y'all

I was pointed to this site a few months ago by a friend on a different forum when I started my homemade pizza making journey. They were referring me to the pizza dough recipe, and later I was pointed to the forum when researching cooking techniques.

I've been using Jeff Varasano's (sp?) guide on making dough, but I haven't been 100% successfule yet. I'm going to give the FB dough recipe a shot this weekend and see if it turns out any better - the instructions are much simpler, so I should have some luck.

I am using a Pampered Chef 16" pizza stone under the broiler in our gas range. The first time I did this, the temp of the stone reached 750, and the pizzas turned out wonderful. The next few times the stone has been getting cooler and cooler, and this past weekend I couldn't get it above 550 which resulted in undercooked crust and slightly burnt cheese.

I tried once on my grill, a Weber Genesis Silver B, and had mixed results. The stone was 865 (as measured by my Raytec), and the air temp was 900+ (the max of the lid mounted therm is 900). Once I raised the lid, though, the air temp was lost and the crust burnt before the toppings got hot. My next attempt at using the grill involved heating the stone on the grill for an hour and getting it up to 900, and then moving it to under the broiler in the range - this resulted in a great pizza, but it's not convenient, and I don't feel comfortable moving an extremely hot stone from outside through two doors and into the kitchen with a 3 year old running around the house.

I'm currently contemplating the purchase of a Weber Performer kettle grill (on clearance at Home Depot's nationwide) and fabricating my own Kettle Pizza thingymajig (yes, that's a technical term ) while waiting for my outdoor kitchen to be built within the next 18 months.

Thanks for having me!
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  #2  
Old 12-01-2011, 07:08 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: DFW area, USA
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Thumbs up Welcome Sloe :)

SA is a great place to live!!

Welcome, and don't be afraid to poke around here on Fornobravo.com....A lot of corporate memory available here.
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Old 12-01-2011, 07:55 AM
Laborer
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Northern NJ
Posts: 87
Default Re: Ciao, folks!

Sloe, pre-heating a stone with a broiler is a waste of time. Radiative heat is too weak to penetrate the stone all that far, and, with a pre-heated stone, you want it to be fully saturated. Pre-heat the stone with the highest bake setting for at least an hour, then use the broiler during the bake.

This being said, even with a proper pre-heat, your stone will fail you. I don't know how hot your oven goes, but if it's in the typical 550 realm, with the pampered chef stone, the shortest bake time you'll hit is around 7 minutes, which is light years away from Varasano's 3ish minute or traditional Neapolitan <90 second bakes.

Bottom heat scenarios (Genesis, Kettle) will only achieve proper browning on top of the pizza by deflection, and, in order to deflect enough heat to brown well, the blast of heat has to be intense- in other words, you need lots of btus- lots and lots of btus. This rules out the Genesis completely.

Modifying a kettle to get a Neapolitan bake time is close to impossible. Out of a hundred or so people that I've known who have kettle pizza ovens, only 2 have achieved Neapolitan bakes and that was after about a year of tinkering. Modifying a kettle to get a Varasano bake time is definitely doable, but it's still no easy task. Even if you get a phenomenal deal on the kettle, you're still talking about a lot of money and a lot of time, since every kettle and every burner are a bit different and require lot's of tinkering to get the right balance of top to bottom heat.

On the other hand, an electric oven that can reach 550, with the right hearth, will do Varasano 3ish minute bakes with ease. The right hearth is 1/2" steel plate- readily available at local metal suppliers and, for a piece big enough for a Varasano pie, only around $40. If you're stretching and launching skills are up to snuff, with a 1/2" steel plate and the right recipe/flour, you can be eating a Varasano clone (or better) in a couple weeks.
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Old 12-01-2011, 08:30 AM
Serf
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: San Antonio
Posts: 8
Default Re: Ciao, folks!

Our range is natural gas fired. I was measuring the bottom of the stone under the broiler after 45 mins to an hour and getting 485F or better. My pies are cooking with that arrangement in under 3 minutes - I've never timed it exactly, but I'll try to do that tomorrow night.
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Old 12-06-2011, 10:44 AM
Laborer
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Northern NJ
Posts: 87
Default Re: Ciao, folks!

I've run into one or two gas oven owners whose broilers stay on indefinitely, without being shut off by the thermostat when the oven hits the temp on the dial. Could you have an oven like this?

With the broiler constantly cycling on an off, the radiative heat really shouldn't be penetrating the stone that quickly. I guess, maybe, you could increase the impact from the broiler if the stone was extremely close. How big is the gap between the broiler and the stone?

And that under 3ish minute bake- that was when you hitting higher temps on the stone, right, not now, correct?
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Old 12-07-2011, 12:49 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: San Antonio
Posts: 8
Default Re: Ciao, folks!

I haven't measured it yet, but from memory the distance from the broiler to the stone is about 3", probably 4" to the flame deflector on the cieling of the oven. I'll check it out tonight.

If I close the door on the oven, the broiler will shut off when the oven t-stat reaches 600F or so, but if I crack the door, the broiler goes non-stop and heats the kitchen in the process.

Last Friday, I had a reading of 624F on the top of the stone, 583F on the bottom, and achieved a 2 minute bake on two pies, about 4 minutes of lag between them. The dough was the "quick & easy" Fleischman's Pizza Yeast recipe, nothing special about it except a doubled batch. For some reason, this came out much, much, muuuuuuch better. It was extremely sticky for some reason when kneading it, so I'm thinking it was a higher hydration this time which improved it's performance with the high-temp cooking technique.
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