Author Topic: My home oven Neapolitan quest  (Read 5428 times)

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Offline I Have Feet

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My home oven Neapolitan quest
« on: February 12, 2013, 12:27:09 AM »
Well, hello!

After a bit of a hiatus both from this forum and from pizza making in general I jumped back in tonight with my first pies in just over three months! Back in November some other members had been giving me some very positive feedback about my home oven results and were encouraging me to start a thread in which I document my process in detail so that others might try to have the same positive results that I've been lucky enough to experience. So, consider this that thread.

I will go into detail about my routine for tonight's pies a bit later (I've still got one more to bake) but I was pleasantly surprised with the margherita I just pulled out of the oven and so I thought I'd start off with some photos. Wasn't expecting it to come out this good, considering I'm a bit out of practice.

I apologize for the low quality iPhone shots; when I grabbed my real camera to take photos the memory card was full.

Bake time for this pie was about 1:45 - 1:50.

Brendan


Offline I Have Feet

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Re: My home oven Neapolitan quest
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2013, 01:20:45 AM »
Tomato, oregano, garlic, anchovies, olives, parmesean post bake. Bake time ~1:55.

Brendan
« Last Edit: February 12, 2013, 01:25:14 AM by I Have Feet »

Offline JD

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Re: My home oven Neapolitan quest
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2013, 08:18:32 AM »
1:50 in a home oven without mods is so impressive. Looking forward to hearing just how you do it, your pictures certainly prove you can.
Josh

Online TXCraig1

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Re: My home oven Neapolitan quest
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2013, 01:04:51 PM »
Those pies are beautiful Brendan. Beautiful coloration - the sauce looks fresh and alive - fine crumb. About the only suggestion I have would be to make your cheese pieces smaller and tear them by hand as opposed to cutting.

I'm very curious to know exactly how you do it - dough formula and workflow, stone type, oven type, temps, broiler, etc.

Very impressive.

Craig
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Online tinroofrusted

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Re: My home oven Neapolitan quest
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2013, 01:24:33 PM »

I'm very curious to know exactly how you do it - dough formula and workflow, stone type, oven type, temps, broiler, etc.

Very impressive.

Craig

Me too.  I've got one of those aluminized steel plates on order and am hoping it will result in some faster bake times. 

Brendan, the pizzas are beautiful, and they look super delicious. 

Regards,

TinRoof

Offline Serpentelli

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Re: My home oven Neapolitan quest
« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2013, 02:02:01 PM »


I apologize for the low quality iPhone shots; when I grabbed my real camera to take photos the memory card was full.

Bake time for this pie was about 1:45 - 1:50.

Brendan

Brendan,

The only pics I've seen of poorer quality have been my own! :P

Having said that I personally have NOT (yet) made pies as beautiful as those! As Tx Craig asked, please share your dough formulation and techniques with me/us. I am always looking to improve and you definitely have something special going on there!

John K

Offline mvd

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Re: My home oven Neapolitan quest
« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2013, 08:30:03 PM »
Incredible results. From your other thread, your method certainly seems worth a try. I eagerly await further details like the others here!
Mike

Offline David Deas

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Re: My home oven Neapolitan quest
« Reply #7 on: February 12, 2013, 10:50:37 PM »
1:50 in a home oven without mods is so impressive. Looking forward to hearing just how you do it, your pictures certainly prove you can.

Without mods?  That is difficult to imagine.  These nice looking pies look like they were cooked at at least 800-900 degrees.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2013, 10:52:51 PM by David Deas »

Offline I Have Feet

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Re: My home oven Neapolitan quest
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2013, 12:27:06 AM »
Okay, well thanks for the compliments, folks!

Craig, I had the same criticism about the cheese as soon as I pulled the margherita from the oven. I found that when my pies were cooking closer to 3:00 the larger chunks were necessary to prevent it from breaking down and becoming watery, but now that I'm getting faster times I will start making them smaller, and hand tearing.

So, I thought I'd start by talking about my oven set up since that is what most people are curious about. My oven is a low end General Electric. Think of the kind of oven you'd expect to find as standard issue in a basement apartment. The dial goes to 500, and then broil. I have tested the accuracy at lower temperatures. When the dial is set to 450, the oven fluctuates between about 485 and 425.

I am using a Lodge cast iron pizza pan on top of an Emily Henry baking stone. (Note: This stone was a Christmas gift several years ago. I think it's over priced and I think that a cheaper baking stone would probably work as well.)
 
I line the top rack with heavy duty aluminum foil, shiny side up, making sure to completely close off any air flow. I put the Emily Henry stone on this rack while the cast iron pan heats up on the bottom rack with the oven set to 500. I preheat for an hour or more. The thermostat probe is in the top, near the broiler, and so the aluminum foil blocks the heat from the lower element and allows the oven to reach higher temps. Once I've stretched and topped the pizza, I move the cast iron to the top, placing it on top of the Emily Henry stone, and switch on the broiler. Once the broiler is glowing red, I launch the pizza on to the cast iron.

I have attached the photo of the inside of the oven, set up as I would preheat it. I took measurements. The oven interior is 24" wide, 17" deep, and 19" tall. There is 3" of space between the lower element and the bottom rack, and 2.5" between the broiler and the cast iron when it is sitting on top of the Emily Henry stone. Launching and pulling the pizza is a tight squeeze but I've managed to get good enough to avoid hitting the broiler.

Any more questions about my oven? Unfortunately I do not have an infrared thermometer to take stone temps, or a probe that can measure air temps above 500 so I cannot tell you exactly what I'm working with...

Next, I'll talk about my dough formula. :)

Brendan
« Last Edit: February 13, 2013, 12:33:35 AM by I Have Feet »

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: My home oven Neapolitan quest
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2013, 12:31:04 AM »
Without mods?  That is difficult to imagine.  These nice looking pies look like they were cooked at at least 800-900 degrees.

 ??? Why difficult to imagine?  It's called the broiler technique.  You put a stone about 3" from the broiler, preheat the oven, then run the broiler.  One can achieve stone temps of 800f plus.  If you can get the broiler to stay on then you can get pretty decent top and bottom heat.


Offline David Deas

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Re: My home oven Neapolitan quest
« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2013, 01:35:48 AM »
??? Why difficult to imagine?  It's called the broiler technique.  You put a stone about 3" from the broiler, preheat the oven, then run the broiler.  One can achieve stone temps of 800f plus.  If you can get the broiler to stay on then you can get pretty decent top and bottom heat.

Except that the broiler won't really stay on past max rated temp.  It's regulated by the oven controller as well so getting it to stay on way past 550 is the whole entire trick.  This usually requires some level of modification.  At least on my oven it does.

By using a "broiler technique" I'm able to hit about 650 max, which is enough for a three minute 14 inch pie.  The technique involves cracking the oven door to lower the temp enough to trigger the broiler and then timing the broiler element cycle with the launch.  

I'm really not able to get anywhere near 800 though.

In the case of the OP, he has used a technique I have never seen or heard of for achieving this type of higher performance.  Very innovative.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2013, 01:44:22 AM by David Deas »

Offline pizzaneer

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Re: My home oven Neapolitan quest
« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2013, 03:26:45 AM »
Brendan,
I would be very, very interested in hearing what your actual temps are, either by IR or contact thermometer reading. Please, invest a few dollars and get one.  The laser pointer on an IR gun is a great cat/dog toy too!   :)
 
I would really like to know: what temp does the cast iron reach while preheating? What temp is the stone in the top "compartment"?

Why do you think it beneficial to start the cast iron heating in the main area, then move it onto the stone, instead of leaving it on the stone the entire time?  I'm sure you have a reason for this, and it's obvious that the method works stunningly well.
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Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: My home oven Neapolitan quest
« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2013, 11:06:17 AM »
David when I was experimenting in my Viking home oven, I was able to get stone temps of 800 and the broiler on and running by periodically opening the door and no mods to the oven.

Offline slybarman

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Re: My home oven Neapolitan quest
« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2013, 03:16:52 PM »
Except that the broiler won't really stay on past max rated temp.  It's regulated by the oven controller as well so getting it to stay on way past 550 is the whole entire trick.  This usually requires some level of modification.  At least on my oven it does.

This was definitely my experience. I could barely get the broiler to come on at all once the oven was at 550.

Offline I Have Feet

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Re: My home oven Neapolitan quest
« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2013, 03:32:48 PM »
This was definitely my experience. I could barely get the broiler to come on at all once the oven was at 550.

I have had the experience of the broiler shutting off halfway through. I find that opening the door and rotating the pizza after a minute is enough to keep the cycle on for the full two minutes. This is just my guess, and I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong, but with the pizza so close to the broiler (2.5" from the surface of the cast iron. Once the cornicione has sprung it is within 1" from the element.) The cast iron surface temp and the radiant heat from the element play a bigger role in the fast bake times than the actual air temperature. Perhaps someone who knows more about the technical aspects of it can share their thoughts.

Brendan,
I would be very, very interested in hearing what your actual temps are, either by IR or contact thermometer reading. Please, invest a few dollars and get one.  The laser pointer on an IR gun is a great cat/dog toy too!   :)
 
I would really like to know: what temp does the cast iron reach while preheating? What temp is the stone in the top "compartment"?

Why do you think it beneficial to start the cast iron heating in the main area, then move it onto the stone, instead of leaving it on the stone the entire time?  I'm sure you have a reason for this, and it's obvious that the method works stunningly well.


Hey, Pizzaneer! Thanks for the compliment. :) I would very much like an infrared thermometer to play with. It would definitely allow me to get consistent, repeatable results with respect to char on the undercarriage and I could figure out exactly how long I need to preheat for, and let the cast iron recover after each pizza. However, that purchase will have to wait a wee bit as I'm currently waiting on student loan money, and any extra cash I do have right now is going towards spoiling my girlfriend tomorrow. :P

The reason I heat the cast iron in the lower section is that I put it on the bottom rack, which is only 3" from the lower element. It soaks up all the heat directly from the element and gets screaming hot this way.

Brendan


Offline mvd

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Re: My home oven Neapolitan quest
« Reply #15 on: February 13, 2013, 08:09:28 PM »
I will definitely be experimenting with this this weekend. Unfortunately, I don't have thermometers, either. I've been meaning to get at least an oven thermometer as I suspect my oven runs on the cold side. I'll probably try a few different variants on the method and document the results.

The reason I heat the cast iron in the lower section is that I put it on the bottom rack, which is only 3" from the lower element. It soaks up all the heat directly from the element and gets screaming hot this way.

I can definitely confirm this experience. I've got the same cast iron pan and have tried it all over the oven. It makes a huge difference in how hot it gets to put it all the way at the bottom.
Mike

Offline MightyPizzaOven

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Re: My home oven Neapolitan quest
« Reply #16 on: February 14, 2013, 09:49:35 AM »
Brendan, that's the  best looking pizza I have seen made in a home oven. Great job on your heating technique too.

What recipe did you use for your dough? It looks great.

Bert,

Offline I Have Feet

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Re: My home oven Neapolitan quest
« Reply #17 on: February 14, 2013, 05:23:07 PM »
Brendan, that's the  best looking pizza I have seen made in a home oven. Great job on your heating technique too.

What recipe did you use for your dough? It looks great.




Thanks for the compliment, MightyPizzaOven. Personally, I think that other members (most notably Jackie Tran) have achieved better home oven results but I'm flattered that you would consider my pizzas to be in contention. :)

Okay, now lets talk about my dough.

I'll never be through with tinkering and trying different formulas but I have found one that works well. I am currently doing a 22 - 24 hour, room temp dough using a natural starter that I grew myself using the raisin method discussed in this thread: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,10702.0.html. I keep the starter at 100% hydration and refresh with a 1:1:1 ratio.

My flour is a 50/50 blend of Caputo and All Purpose. My dough formula is:

- flour blend, 100%
- water (room temp), 67%
- starter, 3%
- sea salt, 2.5%

I calculate specific weights based on the number of pies I'm making, aiming to have the final dough balls weighing in around 275g.

When mixing the dough I try to be as laissez faire as I can to avoid over developing the gluten and ending up with too chewy a texture. I generally mix by hand, only because I'm generally making only 2 or 3 pizzas and that small batch of dough is impractical in the size of Kitchen Aid stand mixer I have. I mix the ingredients together until just blended, then leave it to rest for at least 30 minutes. Then, I knead for perhaps 2 or 3 minutes. I use a gentle kneading technique where I fold the dough over itself, rotate 90 degrees, fold, rotate, etc. After a couple of minutes of kneading I give it another rest, at least 15 - 20 minutes. Then another 2 - 3 minutes of kneading, followed by one more rest and then a few final folds and I shape it into a silky ball and stick it in a large ziplock tub for an overnight bulk ferment (generally 10 - 11 hours).

(Note: I'm not at all picky about my rest times so long as it gets a minimum of 30 minutes after initial mixing and 15 minutes between each round of kneading. More than once I have given a full hour rest between each step. My experience is that the longer the rest, the less actual kneading is required to develop the gluten. My timing entirely depends on how early I get around to starting the dough and/or how late I'm willing to stay up.)

In the morning I weigh out and shape the dough balls and then put them in smaller ziplock containers to proof until I'm ready to bake. When making the pizza I stretch the ~275g ball to around 13.5 or 14 inches, however the dough springs back a bit when I peel it onto the stone and so the actual diameter of the pizza ends up being maybe an inch smaller than when I stretched it. (Does anyone have any tips on how to minimize this "spring back"?)

Room temp in my place stays around 18c (65f).

That's all I can think of right now. Any info I'm missing? Next time I make dough I will try and get a picture of the dough balls through the ziplock containers from the bottom, to try and show what level of fermentation I like when I make the pizza. I like them fairly well fermented.

Brendan

Offline MightyPizzaOven

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Re: My home oven Neapolitan quest
« Reply #18 on: February 15, 2013, 07:59:13 AM »
Thanks for the compliment, MightyPizzaOven. Personally, I think that other members (most notably Jackie Tran) have achieved better home oven results but I'm flattered that you would consider my pizzas to be in contention. :)

I have not seen Jakie's oven pies, but I did see his LBE mod pies, they are amazing.

Have you tried just all purpose flour only and IDY in your current oven setup? just curious on the final pies differences. 
Bert,

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