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Offline PizzaSean

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Introduction and A Few Homemade Pizza Questions
« on: August 08, 2010, 06:03:59 PM »
Hey Everyone!

First off a big thanks to all of the people on these forums who are so generous with their info and experiences.  I spent hours on here just yesterday reading about flour and techniques and all sorts of things, and it's a great wealth of info.

Anyway... I'm a north NJ resident with a love for pizza... I appreciate a ton of different styles but if I had to pick just one, I'd probably go with Lombardi's in NY.  Luckily I don't have to pick just one.

I have been making pizza for a little while now, but I've grown very frustrated with using premade doughs.  I've used doughs from local pizza places, trader joe's, and whole foods, but my number one complaint has always been that I can't get the desired thin-ness.  I'm guessing, but I think my ideal TF that I'd like to make would be around .085 or so.  Anyway... the premade doughs, I've tried various things to get them smaller and reform them, but knew very little about the whole process. 

Anyway, I had a pizza making night a month ago and have been a lot happier with my ingredients:  switched to canned San Marzanos (have tried the Cento whole tomatoes as well as the puree kind with a white label that simply say San Marzano at whole foods), fresh mozz, fresh basil, fresh garlic in olive oil, and some pecorino romano.  This was all influenced by the menus I was reading at places like Brooklyn's, Grimaldi's, Lombardi's, etc.  But now I want good dough. 

I'm more than willing to start simple and work my way up to the more sophisticated recipes, processes, and flours, but I'd like some recommendations on where I should start.

-oven maxes out at 550 F
-I use a stone
-I do NOT have a mixer
-I can follow directions meticulously and well, and am more than willing to do a long slow rising process if necessary.

The only other thing I can think of is that my stone is 15", so I'd ideally like the pies to be in the 12"-15" range.  I feel like my stretching techniques are not all that bad, but I'd like to make some dough balls that are appropriate for my target thickness and diameter.

Any help is greatly appreciated!



also - if anyone thinks the canned San Marzanos in the supermarket are good or if it would be better to look for some Escalon 6 in 1 I'd love to hear thoughts on that, too. 


scott123

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Re: Introduction and A Few Homemade Pizza Questions
« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2010, 09:22:20 PM »
Sean, great NY style pizza is about what I call the 3 H's- heat, high gluten flour and hydration.

Heat

Heat is, by far, the biggest player in the great pizza equation.  High heat = quick baking time = great oven spring = airy/puffy crust.  The stone is the vessel through which that heat is transferred.  Thicker stones hold more heat and more conductive stones transfer that heat faster to the pizza. You can either shorten your baking time by modifying your oven to make it go above it's rated temp, by using a broiler technique and/or by using a thick conductive stone. I took a few minutes and looked at a few photos of Lombardi's pizza's, and, first off, I have to admit that consistency is not their strong suit.  They seem to range from a relatively evenly colored 600ish degree NY style pie to a 750ish very slightly leoparded Neo-NY coal pie. Compared to the other coal places (Patsy's, Grimaldi's, Totonno's) this puts them on the low end of the temperature spectrum.

Before you do anything, you need to answer the following question: Which of the two Lombardi crusts at the bottom of this post are you trying to recreate? If it's the latter, then things get a little trickier.  If it's the former, I'm relatively certain you can achieve this with the right stone.  1" cordierite kiln shelves are excellent, but, being a resident of Northern NJ, you have access to inexpensive soapstone slab, which is, imo, the best baking stone you can get. 

For a higher coal-ish temp scenario, you could, in theory, just keep the stone you have and go with a cleaning cycle mod.  Having re-wired ovens, I'm not a huge fan of cleaning cycle mods.  If I were striving towards Neo-NY coal temps, I'd probably combine soapstone with either a broiler technique or a frozen towel cover on my thermostat.

High Gluten Flour

Another benefit of living in the pizza mecca of Northern NJ is that you have easy access to great flour.  Corrado's in Clifton, Restaurant Depot, Dawn Foods in Edison- all have great pizzeria flour.  These flours are all suited towards NY style, but for Lombardi's higher heat pie, I think they'll fit the bit as well.  Maybe.  You may need to do a blend of pizzeria flour and an unmalted flour like Caputo.  Caputo is a little hard to find, but we'll cross that bridge when we have to.

Hydration

Hydration is really just about shooting for a little bit above a flour's rated absorption value.   For a classic bromated bleached 14% flour such as All Trumps, that translates into a 65-68% hydration territory. With the proper burst of heat, water will turn into steam and steam will do it's oven spring magic.

You've got a digital scale, right? How about an infrared thermometer? For where you're going, both are essential.

As far as the recipe goes, the Lehman dough is pretty much the standard approach. I'd pick one with some oil and some sugar. Both are pretty standard NY fare.  Lombardi's may use a sourdough starter (Patsy's does), but, for now, I'd cut your teeth on a straightforward IDY recipe. Once you've mastered that, then you can graduate to sourdough. You'll also want to go with a dough with an overnight refrigerated fermentation.


« Last Edit: August 08, 2010, 09:24:28 PM by scott123 »

Offline PizzaSean

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Re: Introduction and A Few Homemade Pizza Questions
« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2010, 09:57:11 PM »
Wow!  Thank you!

This is a great first response... I wondered if Corrado's had good flours in stock, so it's great to hear that they are a good source.  I'm not far from them at all.

I do not yet have any of the supplies relating to dough making... I'm not quite sure what I need.  Literally the only thing I have is a dough cutter.  So I guess a digital scale is a good idea for weighing ingredients and portioning out dough balls. 

Regarding the heat concepts... I currently rent, so doing any kind of oven mods is definitely out of the question.  And while I'm certainly looking at higher heat crust as an ideal, I think maybe trying something with two stones might be an idea that could work.  I was reading some old posts where Pete-zza and Steve were talking about having a second stone higher to act kind of like a lower ceiling and also using the broiler on that part.  I'm also curious about the soapstone slab you mentioned!

So to answer your question, I love the leoparding of the bottom pie, but for home usage given that I'm not going to do any oven mods, I'd definitely be thrilled to have the top pie as a result, too.  Basically I'm just trying to get past the storebought dough phase. 



One last thing:  I noticed you have Joe's in your icon.  One of my favorite classic NY slices!

Sean

scott123

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Re: Introduction and A Few Homemade Pizza Questions
« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2010, 12:00:46 AM »
Yup, that's the iconic Joe's pizzeria.  I've had many happy memories there, although it's been a solid decade since I've been.

A digital scale is mandatory for the aspiring pizzamaker.  The smaller stuff (salt, sugar, oil, yeast) can be done by volume, but water and flour have to be weighed.  Walmart has a cheap digital scale that, as far as I know, will work fine for baking, but if you want to step it up, these

http://saveonscales.com/product_category_householdfooddiet.html

seem to have fans.

If you live near Corrado's (go to the wholesale location for the flour), then you shouldn't be too far from the soapstone place I go to.

M. Teixeira Soapstone
85 Myer Street
Hackensack, New Jersey 07601
www.soapstones.com

They carry soapstone remnants for $10/sq. ft.  For something like a 17" x 17" stone, that's $20.  They usually don't have remnants that small, but, the last time I was there, they were willing to make a cut for me. Look for a light gray soapy feeling (high talc) stone with no other colors such as light tan, green or rust. Assuming you have a traditional oven with a shorter front to back dimension, you want a stone that will go all the way from the back wall to almost touching the door.  Leave at least 1/2" on the sides for air flow.  The goal is the biggest stone you can fit in the oven.  You want a big target to aim for when launching from a peel, plus... anything less than 16" is a crust fest and doesn't really do NY style justice.

As long as your oven has a broiler element in the top, I don't think you need to worry too much about a ceiling stone- yet. Besides, if you use a stone that doesn't radiate heat all that well and/or position it too far from the pizza, you might end up handicapping your top heat rather than augmenting it.

Ebay has good deals on used IR thermometers. I picked up one for $19 shipped.  Just watch all the auctions that are ending soon and bid 20ish dollars until you win one.  Or spend $40 and get one new.

Offline PizzaSean

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Re: Introduction and A Few Homemade Pizza Questions
« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2010, 01:19:24 AM »
I know on my pizza stone documentation it said to only use corn meal and never flour to dust the stone, as flour would scorch.  Is this true for the soapstone, too?

scott123

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Re: Introduction and A Few Homemade Pizza Questions
« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2010, 01:46:08 AM »
What kind of stone is this?

You never want to dust the stone with anything.  You want to liberally coat your dough (with flour and/or semolina and/or corn meal), form the skin, top it and then launch it on the clean pre-heated stone.

Offline PizzaSean

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Re: Introduction and A Few Homemade Pizza Questions
« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2010, 02:13:44 AM »
Oh, that's good to know.  Will definitely adjust my process for the future.  I can't remember the manufacturer of this stone, but I'll look to see if it has a mark on it tomorrow.  I just remember it specifying that flour can scorch on it. 

I actually can't remember why I dusted it with corn meal the first time... if it actually said to or if I was just trying to be extra cautious about a sticking issue.  It's funny because I've done it that way every time, but thinking about it now, it makes no sense, since the dough itself is dusted and I want to avoid it sticking to the peel.  By the time it is cooked, sticking to the stone shouldn't even be an issue. 

Loving this newb forum.

Online Pete-zza

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Re: Introduction and A Few Homemade Pizza Questions
« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2010, 10:24:00 AM »
PizzaSean,

Given your circumstances, it is perhaps a good idea to try a basic Lehmann NY style dough, as scott123 suggested. If it will help, the thread that I normally mention to new members on that subject is the one at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,2223.msg19503.html#msg19503. The method discussed in that thread to make the dough, starting at Reply 8, is a stand mixer. However, later in that thread I set forth some basic hand kneading tips. There is also a very useful dough calculating tool at http://www.pizzamaking.com/expanded_calculator.html that allows one to determine the quantities of ingredients needed to make just about any size and number of pizzas with any desired thickness factor. I can help you with that tool if you are interested.

I'd also like to mention that Lombardi's does not use a starter, at least not when I visited Lombardi's several years ago and reported on my visit at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,505.msg4376.html#msg4376. You might also want to read Reply 13 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,505.msg95479.html#msg95479, where I referenced a post by Evelyne Slomon concerning changes to the Lombardi's pizza that might help explain the different appearances of their pizzas that scott123 noted. If you do an expanded forum search using the keyword "Lombardi's" (without the quotes), you will find many other posts discussing Lombardi's, including its early history as discussed by Evelyne, who knew all of the old NYC pizza masters and wrote about them in her pizza cookbook (http://www.pizzamaking.com/pizza_books.html).

For a long time there was also a suspicion that Patsy's (the one at the original Harlem location) used a starter of some sort. However, member pftaylor, who at one time considered the Patsy's pizza to be the Holy Grail, established that Patsy's did not use a starter. I believe he reported on his findings in the Patsy's thread on the subject, which you can find through a forum search if you are interested.

Peter

Offline PizzaSean

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Re: Introduction and A Few Homemade Pizza Questions
« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2010, 12:17:31 PM »
Thanks Peter!

I'm not sure why those threads didn't turn up in my earlier searches, but they were definitely very interesting... Quite a shame that I never had Lombardi's in its golden age.

Anyway... my current plan for when I get this together is to find some All Trumps high gluten flour - though it seems as though there are several options (bleached/unbleached, bromated/un)... is bleached and unbromated a good way to go? 

I came up with this set of parameters just before...


Flour (100%):
Water (63%):
IDY (.25%):
Salt (1.5%):
Total (164.75%):
Single Ball:
1550.85 g  |  54.7 oz | 3.42 lbs
977.04 g  |  34.46 oz | 2.15 lbs
3.88 g | 0.14 oz | 0.01 lbs | 1.29 tsp | 0.43 tbsp
23.26 g | 0.82 oz | 0.05 lbs | 4.17 tsp | 1.39 tbsp
2555.03 g | 90.12 oz | 5.63 lbs | TF = 0.085
425.84 g | 15.02 oz | 0.94 lbs

So I'll get the flour and get a scale.  And then I plan to just do it all by hand, so I guess I'll just have to be ready to work it with my hands for kneading.  I'll follow your order of mixing the yeast throughly through the flour and then separately mixing the salt into the water and then gradually adding the flour mix into the water.  When it seems ready, I plan to divide the dough and finish it into round balls.... I'm not sure yet how I'll store them... ziploc bags seems like the easiest thing to do in terms of consistency since it's easy to come up with 6 of those.  And then I'll let it sit for 24 hours in the fridge?  Take it out to warm up prior to pushing/stretching.

I think for now I'm going to try just raising my current stone up high and running the oven at 550 without doing anything fancier in terms of a new stone or using the broiler. 

Interesting to see that Lombardi's doesn't cook their tomatoes!  Is it common to use tomatoes straight out of the can?  I've always cooked mine a bit and used it hot...  Learning a lot here....


Online Pete-zza

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Re: Introduction and A Few Homemade Pizza Questions
« Reply #9 on: August 09, 2010, 01:02:40 PM »
PizzaSean,

You may have a problem getting an unbromated All Trumps flour, even though it exists. Most of the NYC places use the bromated version.

You should be able to get 24 hours of cold fermentation out of the dough and maybe even longer if you use cold water when making the dough and get the dough balls into the refrigerator as soon as possible. That is more critical this time of year where it is so hot in many parts of the country.

The basic Lehmann dough formulation calls for some oil. Some of the NY elite style doughs do not use any oil but the pizzas are baked in high temperature ovens. Most members who use the Lehmann dough formulation use some oil. Some also use sugar but that seems to be less common.

Most of the NYC places use uncooked sauce. A common brand of tomato products for pizzas is the Stanislaus brand, which is sold mostly through foodservice companies and some online sources, such as pennmac.com. Escalon also sells comparable tomato products to those sold by Stanislaus but Stanislaus is the more common of the two among NYC pizza operators.

Peter


scott123

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Re: Introduction and A Few Homemade Pizza Questions
« Reply #10 on: August 09, 2010, 01:09:32 PM »
Peter, great info about about Lombardi's and Patsy's, thanks.  So Varasano's whole Patsy's 'starter' based dough quest was completely unfounded?

Sean, as Peter mentioned, you won't find unbromated All Trumps in this area.  Nobody carries unbromated high gluten flour because there is no demand for it. Corrado's carries a medium gluten unbromated flour from Bay State Milling called Wingold Special that clocks in around 12.1% protein, but I think that's a little on the low side.  Besides, for now, as a beginner, I think you'll want the added benefits of bromate.  Getting good spring/volume without bromate is more of an advanced pizzamaking technique.

Online Pete-zza

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Re: Introduction and A Few Homemade Pizza Questions
« Reply #11 on: August 09, 2010, 01:22:36 PM »
So Varasano's whole Patsy's 'starter' based dough quest was completely unfounded?

scott123,

It took a while for pftaylor to come to that conclusion, but he finally concluded that while the Patsy's dough might be exposed to some wild yeast somewhere along the way, they did not use a starter. See, for example, Reply 4 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,4125.msg35344/topicseen.html#msg35344.

Peter

Offline PizzaSean

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Re: Introduction and A Few Homemade Pizza Questions
« Reply #12 on: August 10, 2010, 10:59:28 AM »
Thanks guys!

I was only thinking unbromated because of reading some things about carcinogenic effects of bromated flours in a different thread.  That said... I eat NY/NJ pizza all the time, so I guess I'm already at risk.  Though maybe KASL would be an alternative there.  Is All Trumps available in supermarkets or only through distributors?  I see KASL is available on the manufacturer website.

But anyway... poking around the other threads I've gotta say I'm really getting intrigued about the whole soapstone thing that Scott mentioned above.  I think I just may look into that after all before this first dough batch episode.  Total pizza makeover.


Regarding oil in the dough - I'm definitely not opposed to that being an ingredient.  I was only considering leaving it out since I had noticed it left out in certain other recipes. 

One other thing is that I actually already have access to two pizza stones.  I can't confirm the manufacturer as there is no mark on the round 15" grey stone.  I am wondering if you guys think it would be worth experimenting with a two stone approach before going for the soapstone?  In the two stone approach is the idea to just put the oven at 550F, bake on the lower stone and then move to the higher stone for a little broiler action at the end?  I'm assuming the stones would be kept basically as close as possible to create the shallow oven effect?

Online Pete-zza

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Re: Introduction and A Few Homemade Pizza Questions
« Reply #13 on: August 10, 2010, 11:32:35 AM »
Is All Trumps available in supermarkets or only through distributors?  I see KASL is available on the manufacturer website.

Sean,

The All Trumps flour is a General Mills flour that is sold to professionals, usually through wholesalers and foodservice companies. One of the few places that I am aware of that breaks down the large bags (50 pounds) into 5-pound bags for sale to individuals is pennmac, at http://www.pennmac.com/page/27. PennMac sells a lot of other pizza related ingredients as well, as you will note from the Pizza Makers link referenced above. It is the shipping charges that sometimes deters members from ordering from online sources like PennMac, especially items like cheeses that have to be sent long distances and where hot weather might be an issue.

Peter

scott123

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Re: Introduction and A Few Homemade Pizza Questions
« Reply #14 on: August 10, 2010, 12:50:51 PM »
Sean, Corrado's Wholesale All Trumps $17.99/50 lb.  The results from KASL will be inferior (less puff).  The bromate residue in pizza is harmless. If you want to buy into what the tin foil hat types are saying, start with bromated flour and then move to unbromated later.  Starting with bromate will give you an ideal to strive for.

How thick is the 'gray' 15" stone?  Gray colored stones are usually castable refractory- either the dirt cheap 3/8"  ones you find at Walmart or Fibrament. The cheap 3/8" ones are absolutely worthless for baking pizza.  You're talking 15 minute bake times that produce something with the oven spring/texture of cardboard.

I'm not sure what threads you've been reading regarding using 2 stones, but normally, 2 stone scenarios involve 1 stone as a hearth and 1 stone as a ceiling, with the ceiling stone being as close as possible to the pizza and made of a material that radiates heat well. Getting a strong burst of top heat gets tricky.  I think using a thick conductive hearth for the bottom heat and the broiler for the top heat is the best scenario to start out with.

Forum members in other parts of the country would kill for our soapstone source.  Many people are spending upwards of $80 for a stone that we can get for $20. At that price, there's no question which stone you should get.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2010, 01:42:15 PM by scott123 »

Offline PizzaSean

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Re: Introduction and A Few Homemade Pizza Questions
« Reply #15 on: August 10, 2010, 01:36:41 PM »
Ah, great news!  I will definitely be going for it in that case.  $20 for a superior stone is quite an easy choice, I agree.  I'll be measuring my stove today to see what I can accomodate.  Can I walk in to that place and ask for remnants to be cut?  Should I be calling in ahead of time?

Also, that's great to know that All Trumps is way better than KASL.  I also read this morning Scott, I think you said in another thread that a cold rise is much superior in flavor to a warm rise.  So, I guess I picked the right choice thinking of doing that.  Some people were saying things about letting it rise in the fridge for 2 days?  Is that overkill or will it improve results?

I'm psyched about this...

Oh yeah!  The wholesale of corrado's - I looked at their website and they did say something like no order is too small or too large, so I'm assuming I can walk in as an individual and get myself one bag?  Do you have to call ahead?  Maybe I'll pick up a nice can of tomatoes there, too.  I know people like Stanislaus, but I see Escalon bragging about how they never use citric acid - big deal or not?

Thanks for the continued help guys.  Awesome forums.

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Re: Introduction and A Few Homemade Pizza Questions
« Reply #16 on: August 10, 2010, 02:22:05 PM »
Also, that's great to know that All Trumps is way better than KASL.

Sean,

I would not like members to think that the KASL, or any other King Arthur flour for that matter, is somehow an inferior or sub-par flour. They may not be the choice of most NYC pizza operators or members who try to replicate the pizzas of such operators, but they are still high quality flours with very good specs and tight tolerances--the tighest in the flour industry and with higher protein contents than competitive brands. I would not like to see members, especially new members just starting out, shun pizza making because they don't have access to bromated flours. I also respect people's right to decide for themselves whether they should use bromated flours.

Peter


Offline PizzaSean

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Re: Introduction and A Few Homemade Pizza Questions
« Reply #17 on: August 10, 2010, 02:30:32 PM »
Ah, it's good to see that perspective, Peter.  I definitely do not want to make any commentary on any products being good or bad, because I've never used any of them!   :)   So, I think I was a little overzealous when I reacted to Scott's preference for All Trumps over KASL and called it "way better."

But that's definitely great to know that KA cares about their products and actually keeps them in check.  I was BLOWN AWAY by these pizza pictures http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,11579.0.html and he said he just used KABF which I saw on the supermarket shelf yesterday.  I'm active as a professional musician and audio engineer and it's often the same case in that world where sometimes common materials can produce extraordinary results in skilled hands.

What I'm taking away at this point is that each flour has it's own strengths, and that it's just one of many variables that make the finished product what it is. 

scott123

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Re: Introduction and A Few Homemade Pizza Questions
« Reply #18 on: August 10, 2010, 05:00:49 PM »
Sean, I've purchased two stones from Teixeira.  The first time I was there, they said that they couldn't cut remnants, but the second time (two weeks ago), they did a cut for me (the long dimension cut, but not the short one).  You can't call for remnants.  You just have to show up and see what they have on hand. See if they have a piece close to what you need and if they'll cut it.  If they cut one dimension, you might want to offer them a couple bucks more to make the second cut. The most important aspect about buying a remnant, as I mentioned before, is making sure that it's high talc soapstone.  If you have a phone that can take photos and upload them, I'd be willing to be available when you go and help you identify the right stone.

If you have a circular saw, soapstone is not that difficult to cut.  Home Depot carries masonry blades for $2 that work just fine. I cut my stone last week.  It creates a lot of dust- just make sure you measure carefully so you only have to cut once.  I ended up being slightly off and had to cut the stone 3 times.  3 cuts made a LOT of dust. Even with 3 cuts, though, it only took one blade. The one other thing I'd recommend is that if the stone is too big, make sure it's at least an inch too big, as cuts that only take a little bit off can be especially difficult.

No need to call Corrado's either- just show up.  They do have escalons, although only in huge cans. I bought the 6-in-1s, but haven't come across an event large enough to use the whole can. While you're at Corrado's check out the proofing pans- they have a plastic stacking proofing pan that works nicely.

Offline PizzaSean

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Re: Introduction and A Few Homemade Pizza Questions
« Reply #19 on: August 10, 2010, 05:53:51 PM »
Thanks for the offer with the stones.  Yeah I can send pics with my phone but they aren't too great... seems like it wouldn't be too tough to do the circular saw thing if I couldn't get them to cut it. 

As far as the high talc stone, would they be of any help in getting me what I want incase the pics don't help?  Or maybe I can take a look at a couple pics (good and bad stones) before I go...

I'm not opposed to getting a proofing pan at all, but are they something that would fit in a normal fridge?  Is that how you use it?

scott123

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Re: Introduction and A Few Homemade Pizza Questions
« Reply #20 on: August 10, 2010, 07:31:07 PM »
Sean, of the two times I went to Teixeira, the first was early in the morning (9:00) and there was only a young woman present.  The second time, it was around lunch and the same young woman was there, and, after a few minutes, the 'guys' came back from lunch. The woman was the only one that spoke English well, but it was the guys that offered to break out the saw and do a cut.

The woman was directing me toward a ivory colored stone, but I said I was looking for something 'traditional,' and she understood that, but I'm not certain she'd understand the phrase 'high talc.'  I don't know, maybe she might.

Even with a crappy phone, in daylight, digital cameras tend to be pretty color correct- it's the color that I really need in order to identify it. Another thing that might help is, as you open the front door, there's a small soapstone oven to your left.  It's a little dark colored, if I can recall, but that's the stone that you're looking for. 

Here's some photos of soapstones:

http://www.soapstones.com/soapstone_collection.html

The BARROCA is what you want (without the mineral oil treatment that turns it black):

http://www.soapstones.com/images/stone_collection/barroca_lg.jpg

The remnants seem to have a lot of green stone (Rainforest?) and an ivory colored stone that doesn't appear on their collection page.  Avoid those.  The only colors you want are light gray and white.


 

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