Author Topic: How do I make better pizza with what I have?  (Read 3449 times)

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Offline h_t

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How do I make better pizza with what I have?
« on: April 24, 2012, 04:42:07 PM »
Hi all,

Totally new here. I am very happy I 'discovered' this site - seems to have wealth of knowledge.

Now. We make pizza at home, but it's fairly basic.

I'd like to improve it as much as possible with the equipment we have :-)

So we have unmodified gas oven. I hope to build cob WFO, but that's another story.
No Kitchen Aid or similar. We have small mixer or our hands :-) oh, we also have 1 lb bread maker (Zojirushi).

I guess we better add some quarry tiles to the oven? Only bottom?
We have top gas broiler in the oven - what's the best way to use it for pizza?

We're in Toronto area, so it's not too bad in terms of supplies if I need anything.

So, I guess it boils down to - how we should equip the oven and what recipe would work in it
and something we could mix by hand on in the bread maker.

Thank you to all kind souls that read this and share the knowledge  :D



Offline moose13

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Re: How do I make better pizza with what I have?
« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2012, 06:42:34 PM »
I would start with a pizza stone and a pizza peel.
IMHO a stone makes all the difference in a home oven.
Mixers make the job easier but are not a necessity. I started with 3 (round) tupperware containers for proofing dough.
It took me a two or three tries and i was happy with my pizzas. You will find a dough you like and how to work it, ferment etc.
Experiment with doughs, flours and ingredients. Be careful you may get addicted.
The great thing about making pizza is even the bad ones are pretty damn good and never go to waste.

Offline jeffereynelson

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Re: How do I make better pizza with what I have?
« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2012, 07:02:43 PM »
Aside from a pizza stone and peel I would get a scale. Almost all recipes on this site are bakers %, and it really helps you replicate and experiment. You can get one off amazon pretty cheap. Like $15 maybe? Don't worry about the mixer, you don't need it. You may however find you want one if you get addicted, it does make life easier.

Online SquirrelFlight

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Re: How do I make better pizza with what I have?
« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2012, 07:24:17 PM »
I'm still very much in the newbie/neophyte stage myself, although I'm starting to get results that even the ever-so-picky wife says she likes.

I have an unmodified electric consumer oven (came with the apartment we live in) that shows a max temp of 550F, but goes a little higher.  I bake on the little 1/4 inch ceramic disk you can buy at just about any department store these days, and mix by hand. I like baking on the stone, although I've also gotten fair results using a preheated cookie sheet (usually using baking parchment to load/unload). This is just to say where I'm coming from.

After all that, the single best investment, in general, has been the digital scale.  Now that I can consistantly reproduce a dough, I can adjust the recipe to zero in on what I want.

Currently, I've started working experimenting with the laminated cracker crusts, and for that, the best investment for that has been the food processor.  I got decent results mixing by hand, but nothing like what comes out of 30 seconds in the machine.

Offline moose13

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Re: How do I make better pizza with what I have?
« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2012, 08:17:09 PM »
Yes, i bought a scale for $10.00 works great.

Offline h_t

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Re: How do I make better pizza with what I have?
« Reply #5 on: April 24, 2012, 08:56:19 PM »
ok, thanks, everybody.

I have scale and I do have some limited experience baking, breads for example.
I don't have pizza stone and I hoped to get something cheap, like a tile, but didn't find anything suitable yet.

So any recipes to start with? I mean there's ton of recipes, I can't try them all :-) ...

Offline rcbaughn

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Re: How do I make better pizza with what I have?
« Reply #6 on: April 24, 2012, 09:48:41 PM »
I started out with a nearly-politan in the home oven that turned out more like an american style pizza. It didn't turn out great, but it turned out edible! Ha, that is probably how most everyone started out. I'd probably go with an american style recipe though, they can be baked in a home oven on a stone pretty easily. Getting it perfect though from what I have read on here though can take years and years, just like a New York style pie. But that is why this is so fun, at least to me.

Chicago Deep dish was a good starter one that I did too, it was my second pie style and it turned out great the first time. Very little dough mixing and easy to form. If you have a 9" cake pan you can make one pretty easily, and the ingredients are pretty basic and the end result is amazingly delicious. If you go to the deep dish section, I used the Malnati's with semolina recipe at the top of the page. There are many good ones on here though, all pretty much similar as far as ingredients go. A great website as well if you decide to make a deep dish is www.realdeepdish.com  The website founder is a member here and offers a really great dough recipe, I learned a lot from his site.

Good luck though and don't forget to post pictures!     -Cory
More is better..... and too much is just right.

scott123

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Re: How do I make better pizza with what I have?
« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2012, 06:38:49 PM »
h_t, the largest component in making great pizza is the oven setup.  The recipe is a distant second.

You said you have a gas oven.  What's the peak temp? Does it have a convection feature?   Is the broiler in a separate compartment or in the main compartment?

Offline h_t

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Re: How do I make better pizza with what I have?
« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2012, 07:18:37 PM »
Thanks for the reply.

Gas oven.
500 F
convection
gas broiler on top in the same compartment

I put some 1.25" fire bricks at the bottom today, preheated for 1 hour at 500, turned convection and broiler on
and made some pizzas. Took, I guess 7-8 min. The dough was a bit flat and perhaps I need to preheat longer.





h_t, the largest component in making great pizza is the oven setup.  The recipe is a distant second.

You said you have a gas oven.  What's the peak temp? Does it have a convection feature?   Is the broiler in a separate compartment or in the main compartment?
« Last Edit: April 26, 2012, 07:23:12 PM by h_t »

scott123

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Re: How do I make better pizza with what I have?
« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2012, 11:52:51 PM »
For that thickness of brick, unless you're working with an abnormally high BTU oven, you're talking a 2 hour pre-heat, and, even then, with the conductivity of the brick, it's going to be a long lifeless bake.

500 is a pretty major handicap when it comes to home ovens.

If you've got the money to gamble, you could try 3/4" silicon carbide.  It's unproven, but it might give you respectable bake times at 500 because of it's high conductivity.

Otherwise, it's time to think about some sort of oven mod.  You can go in two directions.

1. A gentle oven mod (a 50 degree or so bump), with 1/2" steel plate as a hearth.

or

2. A less gentle oven mod (150 degrees or so), with a lower conductivity material such as quarry tile.  I know you already have the firebrick, and that would probably work alright in the 650-700 realm, but it's so thick, your pre-heat times will be through the roof.

My vote is #1.  A 50 degree bump is very safe/won't put the oven in any jeopardy whatsoever and 550 with 1/2" steel plate is a very proven combo.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2012, 12:59:34 AM by scott123 »


Offline moose13

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Re: How do I make better pizza with what I have?
« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2012, 12:10:15 AM »
Please explain this 50 degree bump. I too suffer from 500 max. I have access to the steel plate. Thanks!

scott123

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Re: How do I make better pizza with what I have?
« Reply #11 on: April 27, 2012, 12:54:30 AM »
Moose, if you do a search for frozen towel trick, you'll come up with one popular way to increase the peak oven temp.  An insulating firebrick with a hole drilled in it makes a good condom probe as well.  I call it a gentle oven mod, not because these tricks are inherently gentle/low temp, but that you can watch the temp during the pre-heat and make sure that you don't exceed 50 degrees. I'm still working on crumpling foil in just the right way to create a foil only probe, but I think that can be done as well. If crumpled correctly, that could be a truly gentle mod, in that it would only work for 50 degree increases and not much higher.

Just to confirm, you have access to 1/2" steel plate, right?  Any thinner and your bake times will be compromised. Also, you've got a broiler in the main oven compartment, and not a separate compartment below, right?  If you've got a broiler draw underneath, steel is not for you.

Offline moose13

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Re: How do I make better pizza with what I have?
« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2012, 09:50:25 AM »
Moose, if you do a search for frozen towel trick, you'll come up with one popular way to increase the peak oven temp.  An insulating firebrick with a hole drilled in it makes a good condom probe as well.  I call it a gentle oven mod, not because these tricks are inherently gentle/low temp, but that you can watch the temp during the pre-heat and make sure that you don't exceed 50 degrees. I'm still working on crumpling foil in just the right way to create a foil only probe, but I think that can be done as well. If crumpled correctly, that could be a truly gentle mod, in that it would only work for 50 degree increases and not much higher.

Just to confirm, you have access to 1/2" steel plate, right?  Any thinner and your bake times will be compromised. Also, you've got a broiler in the main oven compartment, and not a separate compartment below, right?  If you've got a broiler draw underneath, steel is not for you.
Thanks Scott, yes 1/2" plate and electric oven with top broiler.

Offline h_t

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Re: How do I make better pizza with what I have?
« Reply #13 on: April 27, 2012, 11:09:20 AM »
Thanks. Where would I look for the steel plate?

scott123

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Re: How do I make better pizza with what I have?
« Reply #14 on: April 27, 2012, 02:14:13 PM »
Thanks. Where would I look for the steel plate?

Look under 'steel' or 'metal' in the yellow pages and start making calls.  You want a36 hot rolled steel plate. Get the largest square plate that your oven will take- taking into account that your shelf has a lip in the back.

Offline The Dough Doctor

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Re: How do I make better pizza with what I have?
« Reply #15 on: April 27, 2012, 02:29:00 PM »
For a really low cost "stone hearth" for your home oven try using unglazed floor tile. They run between 1/4 and 1/2-inch thick and they work great for getting started. Be sure to allow about 20 to 30-minutes for the tile to come up to temperature before putting a dressed pizza skin on it.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Offline h_t

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Re: How do I make better pizza with what I have?
« Reply #16 on: April 27, 2012, 04:17:16 PM »
Thanks for the tip. I've been trying to find it with no luck for a while...
Would big box stores like home depot or lowes have it?

Also, how about some of the stones that are used for kitchen counter top?
Fabricators have left overs that can be had for very little. I am not sure about what stone to get and if it's ok to use stone
that has been sealed. I'd think it's better to have open porous stone surface..? Most 'granite' counter tops slabs come pre-sealed these days. May be I can find some soapstone, I hear it's pretty good?

For a really low cost "stone hearth" for your home oven try using unglazed floor tile. They run between 1/4 and 1/2-inch thick and they work great for getting started. Be sure to allow about 20 to 30-minutes for the tile to come up to temperature before putting a dressed pizza skin on it.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

scott123

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Re: How do I make better pizza with what I have?
« Reply #17 on: April 27, 2012, 05:43:02 PM »
H_t, as I said before, quarry tiles (aka unglazed floor tiles) will work, but... to get good bake times you're going to need to push your oven quite a bit higher than you would with steel.  With steel, you can get quick bake times at 550, but, with quarry tile, you'll need at least 650, possibly 700.

Stones are not reliable for baking.  Their composition can vary too much, producing weak points and poor conductivity. Not to mention cost.


Offline h_t

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Re: How do I make better pizza with what I have?
« Reply #18 on: April 27, 2012, 09:15:54 PM »
Thanks again.

I will consider the steel plate... any idea how much it's supposed to cost?

I don't like the idea of modding the oven to go hotter. I am worried about the electronics in it.
It's a Kitchen Aid. I should have gotten pro-style range... It was hard to fit in the kitchen. Oh well...
I also hope to build wood fired oven in the yard soon, it should help with the temperature :-)


scott123

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Re: How do I make better pizza with what I have?
« Reply #19 on: April 27, 2012, 11:04:30 PM »
I've seen people pay as little as $25 for a 17 x 17 x 1/2" plate and as much as $75.  If they quote you a price much more than $40, I would try somewhere else.

With a mod in place, you're going to need to watch the oven so it doesn't go over 550, but, I guarantee you, 550 will not hurt this oven. I can't make the same guarantee about 650, though.

Btw, speaking of monitoring temps, you're going to need a $20ish infrared thermometer- if you don't have one already.


 

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