With summer in full swing, our June newsletter is here – just in time to add to your summer reading pile. This month on the cooking front, we have a great explanation from Peter Reinhart on why pizza dough needs to be made the day before (part of his new FAQ series on Pizza Quest). We're also happy to pass along a new recipe from the Community Cookbook: wood-oven s'mores. Talk about just in time for summer!
Of course, work must continue no matter what the season. The Forno Bravo team has been busy behind the scenes giving our online store a facelift, including substantially improved navigation, better graphics and photos, and single-page checkout. Read more below about the features we've integrated into the store to make your shopping experience a little easier. I'm also excited to announce a new product addition to the store: our wonderful Tuscan extra virgin olive oil in a fun 750ml canister. Details and a link to purchase are below to the right.
Finally, for those of you ready to purchase a Forno Bravo oven (congratulations – fun times ahead!), don't miss out on the special offer at the very bottom of this newsletter.
Remember, we give you a number of ways to connect with Forno Bravo and other wood-fired cooking fans. Join us at the sites of your choice!: Wood-Fired Blog, Forno Bravo Forum, Community Cookbook, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest.
Happy summertime cooking,
The Revamped Forno Bravo Store
We recently went live with a completely updated Forno Bravo Store. The new store was a lot of work, but a big step forward. Here are some features we have included for an easier, more enjoyable shopping experience:
- Forno Bravo FastQuote shipping database integrated into the new store, so the pizza oven and outdoor fireplace shipping and packing costs you get from FastQuote are now exactly matched when you go to the online store to order
- Enhanced graphics — multiple views and zoom capability for some pizza ovens and outdoor fireplaces, and different types of graphics, such as dimensional drawings and 3D models (Note: It is going to take us a little time to add all these images, but they are coming!)
- Ability to ask our customer service team questions via a form on each product page
- Social sharing (like, tweet, +1, send to a friend)
- One-page checkout so everything is in one place and easy to use — and easier to register all your information for faster sign-in and checkout
In addition to our new olive oil container (see right), here are a few other Forno Bravo Store products we wanted to highlight:
- Our full line of assembled residential ovens, all on one page for easy scanning!
- Pizza flour in a variety of sizes/pack options, from two of the world's finest producers: Antico Molino Caputo and Central Milling
- Outdoor fireplaces from Forno Bravo
- Tons of pizza peels and oven tools so you can have the most fun with your oven
Of course, there is a lot more in the store, from commercial ovens to installation accessories. You'll see all the categories on the left side of the store pages.
Peter's Corner: Dough FAQ
Peter Reinhart, our Pizza Quest host, baking instructor and baker extraordinaire, shares the second installment in his new FAQ series.
Q. Why do we make the dough a day ahead?
A. I get asked this question a lot. Or, more accurately, I get a lot of emails asking some variation of the following question: What do I need to do to make the best pizza dough?
Because that's a loaded question, subject to subjectivity and regional bias, I usually punt and focus on a couple of general tricks that seem to bring the best results for nearly any kind of pizza dough. The two most valuable tricks in my opinion are:
- Crank your oven up as high as you can get it.
- Make your dough at least one day ahead.
The reason for the first suggestion is pretty simple: The faster you can bake the pizza, with both the crust and the toppings finishing up at the same time, the more moist and creamy (yet snappy) your crust will taste. The second little trick begs the questions: Why make the dough so far ahead? Why does it make better pizza? I'm going to tell you why and, if you don't already know what I'm about to say, this may change your baking ability forever!:
Flour consists of mostly starch, with some protein and a small amount of minerals and enzymes. Starch is, when push comes to shove, just sugar – that is, it consists of complex weaves of various sugar chains (e.g., glucose, fructose, maltose, dextrose) that are so tightly woven together that your tongue can't access the sweetness, and bacteria and yeast can't get to the sugars to ferment them. Fortunately, the amylase and diastase enzymes that also exist in the grain act upon the starches. They begin to break off some of the sugar chains, especially the glucose and maltose, and free them up for the microorganisms to feed on, and also for our palates, and also for the oven to caramelize them when they bake.
But it takes time for all this to happen, at least 8 to 12 hours, so the refrigerator becomes our friend, slowing down the rate of fermentation so the yeast (and, to a lesser extent, the bacteria) doesn't digest all the newly available sugar threads, but leaves some behind for our tongues and for the oven.
The colder the dough, the slower the rate of fermentation and also the enzyme activity. If we hit the balance point just right, by the time we bake the pizzas (and also breads), we can produce the most beautiful golden crusts (caramelization of the sugars), and the sweetest, nuttiest-tasting crusts due to the acidity created by the fermentation, and the deep roasting of the protein threads caused by the high heat, as well as the remaining sugar threads still remaining for our own pleasure.
It's all about hitting that balance and, fortunately, while it is science, it is not rocket science. Most of the work is done for us by the use of refrigeration and letting the ingredients work it out for themselves.
Condensed from the original FAQ on Pizza Quest.
Recipe: Wood-Oven S'mores
We hope you enjoy this month’s featured recipe from the Forno Bravo Community Cookbook, written by our moderator Dan Compton. Want to add your own recipe? Take a few moments to create a free Community Cookbook account!
Summer's here, school's out, and the weather's fine. What better way to celebrate than with a little outdoor dessert-making session? Pretty much everybody knows how to make a s'more, but my one personal complaint about them is that the chocolate never melts. Here I've come up with a work-around, replacing the traditional chocolate bar with a rich fudge sauce that I think moves the s'more to an even higher plateau of deliciousness.
- 4 oz butter
- 2 C cream
- 3/4 C brown sugar
- 3/4 C sugar
- 1 1/4 C cocoa powder
- 1 bag of your favorite marshmallows
- 1 box of your favorite graham crackers
- Some sticks, whittled to a point on one end
To make the fudge sauce, combine the butter, cream, brown sugar and sugar in a medium-sized sauce pot. Place in your wood-fired oven (not too hot!) or over a medium-low flame on your stovetop and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. When the butter is melted and the sugar has dissolved completely, remove from the heat. Place the cocoa powder in a heat-proof bowl and add the cream mixture slowly, whisking vigorously. To avoid lumps, first add only enough liquid to create a stiff paste, then whisk in the remaining cream.
If you make your fudge sauce ahead and then refrigerate it before use, you'll end up with a thick, spreadable concoction with a consistency similar to nutella – which, come to think of it, you could easily substitute here. If you use it right away it will be a bit runnier and hence a bit messier, but just as delicious, and possibly even a bit more fun for the kids. Just be sure to hose them off before you let them back in the house.
I think you know the rest, but just to be sure: Skewer a couple marshmallows on your sticks and toast in the oven to your personal desired doneness. Spread/drizzle one square of graham cracker with your fudge sauce, add your toasted marshmallow, and top with another square of graham cracker. Devour, wipe off your sticky hands and face, repeat.