Author Topic: A PHILOSOPHY OF PIZZA NAPOLETANISMO!  (Read 521463 times)

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Offline Pulcinella

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Re: A PHILOSOPHY OF PIZZA NAPOLETANISMO!
« Reply #2275 on: November 27, 2013, 05:53:54 PM »
Hey, Pulcinella, those are all good questions, but I'm not sure I am smart enough to answer them!  I have a thread started in the New York Style forum featuring my pies, all baked in a four-deck electric oven at approximately 400C / 750F. (As a personal preference, I am not a huge fan of Neapolitan pies, mainly because I prefer bake times over 2m30s, as the floppy bottom ain't for me.  Is this preference thoroughly American?  I don't necessarily think so, as you'll find similar pizzas both in Naples and throughout Italy.)

My view on traditional Neapolitan pizza, for what it's worth (probably not much!), is that "tradition" is great as a means to an end but never the other way around.  I have been doing this pizza thing for 17 years, and my personal views were informed very early on by Chris Bianco, amongst others.  I wholeheartedly agree with him that pizza is just an individual expression, that ingredients and relationships matter more.

It's personally odd to me to see pizzamakers importing ingredients from Italy, especially when fresher ingredients are available right around them.  You see this in American history as well, in New York City, where, at the turn of the 20th century, tens of thousands of Neapolitan emigres relocated, bringing their pizza traditions with them.  The first pizzeria in the States opened much earlier than other countries; in Australia, for example, the first pizzeria was opened in 1951.  These immigrants changed their traditions, adapting to the circumstances around them, setting up local delis for the salumi and fresh cheeses with which they were familiar, pizzerie that used coal ovens, etc.  From this New York pizza was born.

We can take individual examples within Italy as well.  Why is the tomato so closely associated with la vera pizza napoletana when Italians shunned its use for centuries?  If truly keeping with Neapolitan tradition shouldn't every one of us also be making simple pizze topped with lard or whitebait and no tomatoes?  I take these questions seriously, but frown upon organisations like VPN, as I view any attempt to define what is or is not authentic as arbitrary and prescriptive. (There are arguments to be made for defending specific cultural traditions, but I see more rampant abuse and lack of enforcement for those products with designated appellations within Italian exports [e.g., wine, canned tomatoes, olive oil, buffalo mozzarella, etc.] that I think strictly defining and codifying pizza should be less of a principal concern.  Protect your agricultural history first, for without that there is no pizza, etc!).

Authenticity, for me, comes down to the individual; for pizza and the Italian culinary heritage that also means using what's around you.  That's one of the reasons Italy (only recently united as a country in the grand scheme of history) remains so fiercely regional, or why every first-generation Italian immigrant I've met in the States or Australia  uses ingredients and/or food products from the country he or she emigrated to.

For me personally I have been wanting to open a pizzeria (followed by a bakery) for over a decade.  One of the reasons I have waited until now is because I never felt I was living in the right location to be able to source all the ingredients I need from within driving distance; this is one of the reasons I moved to Australia (there are much more olive oils, buffalo mozzarella makers, etc., made here than in the States), Tasmania especially.

I do find it odd that so many pizza formulae on these forums are similar to Marco's:  low protein flour, lower hydration, high salt, low inoculation, and so on.  Why?  Well, that formula was designed for the circumstances in which it was created.  Neapolitan doughs are made with Italian flours with lower protein contents (despite most, if not all, being blended with lots of European and Canadian wheats); no refrigeration (for both cultural and practical considerations); in hotter climate, etc.  And yet there are many members using methods of temperature control along with similar formulae to successfully imitate these circumstances, along with using the same flour, tomatoes, etc.  Can someone explain to me why it's good to use such a low inoculation percentage (i.e., < 5%) for naturally-leavened pizza doughs when most of us have ample refrigeration and when the majority of members on here do not need an 8-hour production window at room temperature for which their dough balls to remain ready for use?

I do not have any particular thoughts on leoparding or on how quick a pizza should bake for, etc.  This is ultimately up to the individual making it, and the individual eating it, as that's who matters in this equation.

Lastly, a fleeting thought on the use of natural starters in Neapolitan doughs.  At a certain point I'm sure naturally-leavened doughs were the norm throughout Italy (say, 300 - 400 years ago), but I'm not sure this is necessarily the case with pizza (at least pizza as defined by the VPN, as a specific flat bread made in the past two centuries).  The use of brewer's yeast (both as the sole fermentative agent and as a replacement for sourdough) predates the 19th century in most European countries, and my guess is Italy would be no different.  This is just a hunch. (I am no apostle of Calvel, and I think it's time bakers move beyond his influence.  I do not want to get into the specifics of the science, as that deserves a much longer, dedicated thread, but I can say his idea behind the "golden age of bread" in France is mostly nolstagic with no bearing in recorded history, and is mainly him romanticising the bread of his youth, as the (over)use of commercial yeast had become the norm throughout France well over 100 years prior to what he sees as this "golden" age.)

Please take everything I say with a grain of salt; it merely represents my feelings on the matter and is by no means authoritative, as I feel as though each person should come to his or her own conclusion as to what constitutes good pizza.

(Edit:  Sorry for the long reply on your thread, Omid!)

Thnk you for your answer.  I recall somewhere you talked about <<mass effect>>. Do you know how it effects dough <<acidification>> and <<dough strength>> when compared to a small batch of dough? How many kilos should a dough batch be to take advantage of the mass effect? I suppose bigger dough batch ferments faster & develops better strength than a small dough batch. Thank you, I enjoy your posts.


Offline Pulcinella

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Re: A PHILOSOPHY OF PIZZA NAPOLETANISMO!
« Reply #2276 on: November 27, 2013, 06:01:29 PM »
Omid, how do you care for your WFO at home during cold seasons? Do you seal the door? Thanks

Offline Pizza Napoletana

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Re: A PHILOSOPHY OF PIZZA NAPOLETANISMO!
« Reply #2277 on: November 28, 2013, 06:37:47 AM »
Omid, how do you care for your WFO at home during cold seasons? Do you seal the door? Thanks

My wood-fired oven is kept in my patio, which is semi-outdoor. There is a wooden fence (covered with fabrics) all around and a fiberglass roof on top, protecting the oven from the elements, except a small back portion of the oven sticks out from below the roof, exposing it to rain. So, I put a waterproof jacket on the oven during the rainy seasons. When the oven is not in use, I keep a large quantity of salt inside the oven (see the pictures attached hereunder), and I position one door inside the ovens mouth, passed the chimney, and position a second door right at the ovens mouth, before the chimney. Neither doors are sealed. That is all.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Omid
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Offline arspistorica

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Re: A PHILOSOPHY OF PIZZA NAPOLETANISMO!
« Reply #2278 on: November 28, 2013, 06:58:10 AM »
Thnk you for your answer.  I recall somewhere you talked about <<mass effect>>. Do you know how it effects dough <<acidification>> and <<dough strength>> when compared to a small batch of dough? How many kilos should a dough batch be to take advantage of the mass effect? I suppose bigger dough batch ferments faster & develops better strength than a small dough batch. Thank you, I enjoy your posts.

For those of us working at home, the larger the mass of the dough, the better.  Acidification is tied to dough strength if talking about the use of natural starters, as cereal proteases enter into a stage of "enhanced proteolysis" beginning at pH 4.5 (down to pH 3.5).  This state is reached more quickly with warmer temperatures and larger masses of dough.  In general, those at home will begin to see results of the mass effect beginning at batch sizes based upon three (3) kgs of flour, assuming the FDT is mixed relatively warm.
"Senza il mio territorio sarei solo un panificatore."
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Offline Pizza Napoletana

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Re: A PHILOSOPHY OF PIZZA NAPOLETANISMO!
« Reply #2279 on: November 28, 2013, 07:12:09 AM »
Sorry for the long reply on your thread, Omid!

Dear Arspistorica, this is not my thread; this is our thread. We are here to exchange ideas and educate one another. So, please, feel welcome to do so. Good day!

Omid
Recipes make pizzas no more than sermons make saints!

http://pizzanapoletanismo.com/2011/09/27/a-philosophy-of-pizza-napoletanismo/

Offline stonecutter

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Re: A PHILOSOPHY OF PIZZA NAPOLETANISMO!
« Reply #2280 on: November 28, 2013, 07:50:09 AM »
For those of us working at home, the larger the mass of the dough, the better.  Acidification is tied to dough strength if talking about the use of natural starters, as cereal proteases enter into a stage of "enhanced proteolysis" beginning at pH 4.5 (down to pH 3.5).  This state is reached more quickly with warmer temperatures and larger masses of dough.  In general, those at home will begin to see results of the mass effect beginning at batch sizes based upon three (3) kgs of flour, assuming the FDT is mixed relatively warm.

That is interesting, and makes a lot of a sense.  I have noticed that my dough always seems to be better when I make larger quantities.
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Offline stonecutter

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Re: A PHILOSOPHY OF PIZZA NAPOLETANISMO!
« Reply #2281 on: November 28, 2013, 07:52:19 AM »
Dear Arspistorica, this is not my thread; this is our thread. We are here to exchange ideas and educate one another. So, please, feel welcome to do so. Good day!

Omid

This is an excellent thread Omid.  A question...is your oven made by Forno Bravo and what size is it?
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Offline Pete-zza

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Re: A PHILOSOPHY OF PIZZA NAPOLETANISMO!
« Reply #2282 on: November 28, 2013, 08:45:28 AM »
For those who are interested, the first time I became aware of the mass effect was in the 2004 SFBI article at http://www.sfbi.com/pdfs/NewsF04a.pdf#search=%22autolyse%20time%20period%22. The mass effect is discussed at page 5 of that article. However, I think the entire article bears reading. In my opinion, it does an excellent job of discussing the basics and fundamentals of dough making. It's the sort of article that I think all beginning pizza makers should read, but it is also a good refresher article for everyone else.

Peter

Offline mkevenson

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Re: A PHILOSOPHY OF PIZZA NAPOLETANISMO!
« Reply #2283 on: November 28, 2013, 11:44:39 AM »
For those who are interested, the first time I became aware of the mass effect was in the 2004 SFBI article at http://www.sfbi.com/pdfs/NewsF04a.pdf#search=%22autolyse%20time%20period%22. The mass effect is discussed at page 5 of that article. However, I think the entire article bears reading. In my opinion, it does an excellent job of discussing the basics and fundamentals of dough making. It's the sort of article that I think all beginning pizza makers should read, but it is also a good refresher article for everyone else.

Peter

Peter, happy holidays and thank you for that reference. Heavy reading for this morning but very interesting. Makes me want to spend time working in a bakery, of course my back would complain after 62 years of abuse.
Mark
"Gettin' better all the time" Beatles


Offline Pizza Napoletana

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Re: A PHILOSOPHY OF PIZZA NAPOLETANISMO!
« Reply #2284 on: November 28, 2013, 05:26:44 PM »
A question...is your oven made by Forno Bravo and what size is it?

Dear Stonecutter, my wood-fired oven (model Forno Piccolo) was hand-crafted by Giuseppe Crisa of Forno Classico in Santa Barbara, California. It is a small size oven. The internal floor diameter of my oven is 25 inches. Have a great Thanksgiving!
Recipes make pizzas no more than sermons make saints!

http://pizzanapoletanismo.com/2011/09/27/a-philosophy-of-pizza-napoletanismo/

Offline Pizza Napoletana

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Re: A PHILOSOPHY OF PIZZA NAPOLETANISMO!
« Reply #2285 on: November 28, 2013, 05:52:23 PM »
For those who are interested, the first time I became aware of the mass effect was in the 2004 SFBI article at http://www.sfbi.com/pdfs/NewsF04a.pdf#search=%22autolyse%20time%20period%22. The mass effect is discussed at page 5 of that article. However, I think the entire article bears reading. In my opinion, it does an excellent job of discussing the basics and fundamentals of dough making. It's the sort of article that I think all beginning pizza makers should read, but it is also a good refresher article for everyone else.

Peter

According the above-referenced article, cited by Peter:

"The quantity or 'mass' of dough that is allowed to ferment also plays a role in the strength of the dough. A larger piece of dough has the tendency to increase in strength faster compared to a smaller piece of dough. This is due to the fact that in larger masses of dough, all the chemical reactions happen faster and a better environment is created with conditions more favorable for microorganism activity: temperature, availability of nutrients, etc. This is what we refer to in the baking industry as the mass effect."

Source: http://www.sfbi.com/pdfs/NewsF04a.pdf#search=%22autolyse%20time%20period%22

I would like to add the following article that may partially serve as a technical explanation for the phenomenon of "mass effect".

Factors that Affect the Chemical Reaction Rate
Reaction Kinetics
By Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D.

It's useful to be able to predict whether an action will affect the rate at which a chemical reaction proceeds. There are several factors that can influence the rate of a chemical reaction. In general, a factor that increases the number of collisions between particles will increase the reaction rate and a factor that decreases the number of collisions between particles will decrease the chemical reaction rate.

A higher concentration of reactants leads to more effective collisions per unit time, which leads to an increasing reaction rate (except for zero order reactions). Similarly, a higher concentration of products tends to be associated with a lower reaction rate. Use the partial pressure of reactants in a gaseous state as a measure of their concentration.

Temperature
Usually, an increase in temperature is accompanied by an increase in the reaction rate. Temperature is a measure of the kinetic energy of a system, so higher temperature implies higher average kinetic energy of molecules and more collisions per unit time. A general rule of thumb for most (not all) chemical reactions is that the rate at which the reaction proceeds will approximately double for each 10C increase in temperature. Once the temperature reaches a certain point, some of the chemical species may be altered (e.g., denaturing of proteins) and the chemical reaction will slow or stop.

Medium
The rate of a chemical reaction depends on the medium in which the reaction occurs. It may make a difference whether a medium is aqueous or organic; polar or nonpolar; or liquid, solid, or gaseous.

Presence of Catalysts and Competitors
Catalysts (e.g., enzymes) lower the activation energy of a chemical reaction and increase the rate of a chemical reaction without being consumed in the process. Catalysts work by increasing the frequency of collisions between reactants, altering the orientation of reactants so that more collisions are effective, reducing intramolecular bonding within reactant molecules, or donating electron density to the reactants. The presence of a catalyst helps a reaction to proceed more quickly to equilibrium.

Aside from catalysts, other chemical species can affect a reaction. The quantity of hydrogen ions (the pH of aqueous solutions) can alter a reaction rate. Other chemical species may compete for a reactant or alter orientation, bonding, electron density, etc., thereby decreasing the rate of a reaction.

Source: http://chemistry.about.com/od/stoichiometry/a/reactionrate.htm
« Last Edit: November 28, 2013, 06:34:57 PM by Pizza Napoletana »
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Offline stonecutter

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Re: A PHILOSOPHY OF PIZZA NAPOLETANISMO!
« Reply #2286 on: November 29, 2013, 05:20:06 AM »
Dear Stonecutter, my wood-fired oven (model Forno Piccolo) was hand-crafted by Giuseppe Crisa of Forno Classico in Santa Barbara, California. It is a small size oven. The internal floor diameter of my oven is 25 inches. Have a great Thanksgiving!

Cool, it looked like a Forno Bravo when I saw it on the website, having more hemispherical dome. It looks like a nice oven, and the results speak for themselves.  Just goes to show the operator is more of a factor than the oven shape.
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Offline Pizza Napoletana

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Re: A PHILOSOPHY OF PIZZA NAPOLETANISMO!
« Reply #2287 on: November 29, 2013, 06:01:41 AM »
Here are some pizzas I baked at home last night. My Caputo Pizzeria dough was hydrated around 65%, using fresh yeast, and fermenting at room temperature for 10 + 7 hours. Good day!
Recipes make pizzas no more than sermons make saints!

http://pizzanapoletanismo.com/2011/09/27/a-philosophy-of-pizza-napoletanismo/

Offline Pizza Napoletana

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Re: A PHILOSOPHY OF PIZZA NAPOLETANISMO!
« Reply #2288 on: November 29, 2013, 06:02:59 AM »
Continued . . .
Recipes make pizzas no more than sermons make saints!

http://pizzanapoletanismo.com/2011/09/27/a-philosophy-of-pizza-napoletanismo/

Offline Pizza Napoletana

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Re: A PHILOSOPHY OF PIZZA NAPOLETANISMO!
« Reply #2289 on: November 29, 2013, 06:05:14 AM »
Continued . . .
Recipes make pizzas no more than sermons make saints!

http://pizzanapoletanismo.com/2011/09/27/a-philosophy-of-pizza-napoletanismo/

Offline Pizza Napoletana

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Re: A PHILOSOPHY OF PIZZA NAPOLETANISMO!
« Reply #2290 on: November 29, 2013, 06:06:46 AM »
Continued . . .
Recipes make pizzas no more than sermons make saints!

http://pizzanapoletanismo.com/2011/09/27/a-philosophy-of-pizza-napoletanismo/

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: A PHILOSOPHY OF PIZZA NAPOLETANISMO!
« Reply #2291 on: November 29, 2013, 08:09:52 AM »
Omid, do you put something (water, oil, etc.) on your basil leaves before putting them on the pie?

Are you drying you cheese any prior to use? I think I've been drying mine too much lately. No water at all is coming out of it. I like the look on your pies a lot.
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Offline mkevenson

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Re: A PHILOSOPHY OF PIZZA NAPOLETANISMO!
« Reply #2292 on: November 29, 2013, 11:06:04 AM »
Omid, thanks for sharing, again. Beautiful pies and photography. I remember some time back you were fermenting your dough in a box type structure placed in the floor, as I remember. You say this last batch was fermented at room temp. What is your room temp of choice? How important is it to have the fermentation temp stable? Lately I have been using an ice box as a chamber and trying to keep the temp within a couple degrees of 61F.


Mark
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Offline Pizza Napoletana

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Re: A PHILOSOPHY OF PIZZA NAPOLETANISMO!
« Reply #2293 on: November 30, 2013, 04:59:30 PM »
Omid, do you put something (water, oil, etc.) on your basil leaves before putting them on the pie?
Dear Craig, I do not treat my basil leaves with anything prior to placing them on pizzas.

Are you drying you cheese any prior to use? I think I've been drying mine too much lately. No water at all is coming out of it. I like the look on your pies a lot.
Thank you! The way I presently treat my fresh mozzarella or buffalo mozzarella at home is that, I empty all the liquid from the cheese containers the day before use. Next, an hour before baking my pizzas, I chop up all the cheese balls into pieces by hand and place them inside a perforated bowl, which stays outside at room temperature until I am ready to bake my pizzas. Good day!
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http://pizzanapoletanismo.com/2011/09/27/a-philosophy-of-pizza-napoletanismo/

Offline Pizza Napoletana

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Re: A PHILOSOPHY OF PIZZA NAPOLETANISMO!
« Reply #2294 on: November 30, 2013, 05:48:39 PM »
Omid, thanks for sharing, again. Beautiful pies and photography. I remember some time back you were fermenting your dough in a box type structure placed in the floor, as I remember. You say this last batch was fermented at room temp. What is your room temp of choice? How important is it to have the fermentation temp stable? Lately I have been using an ice box as a chamber and trying to keep the temp within a couple degrees of 61F.

Mark

Thank you! You asked, "How important is it to have the fermentation temp stable?" In my assessment, temperature stability during the course of fermentation is a critical factor. As we all know, according to microbiological studies, temperature plays a consequential role in the chemical reactions (such as hydrolysis, catalysis, and etc.) that take place:

1. In wheat dough, and
2. In the microorganisms that ferment the dough

Temperature can regulate the rate of the chemical reactions. For instance, I have read that the wheat starch granules (within which food for the sugar-fermenting microorganisms is encapsulated) resist to be penetrated by cold water because of the extant hydrogen bonds in the granules' molecular structure. As the temperature increases, the hydrogen bonds gradually weaken, letting the water enter inside the granules. Next, the granules swell and rupture, thereby the starch content (amylose and amylopectin) is released into the dough, where they are eventually enzymatically broken down to sugars that are fermented by the yeast and/or bacteria. The higher the temperature (up to a point), the faster will be the rate of the chemical reactions of hydrolysis, catalysis, and fermentation.

Moreover, it is said that there are correlations between dough temperature and:

1. Solubility of carbon dioxide in dough,
2. Production of organic acids that affect flavor and texture of dough, and
3. Dough strength

Naturally, "time" is another vital factor to consider as well. If the above-stated premises are factual, then we can induce that: since fluctuations in temperature can speed up or slow down the chemical reactions that have direct bearing on the strength, texture, and flavor of dough, the importance of stability of fermentation temperature, within a practical range, is clear. Excessive cold or hot temperatures can interfere with (unduly slow down, speed up, or stop) the enzymatic reactions.

It is difficult for me to articulate my room temperature of choice because (1) this is a circumstantial matter and (2) I, as an amateur, am still in my experimental phase. Under certain circumstance, I prefer a fermentation range between 67 to 71F, but, as you can imagine, the circumstances and room temperature are always subject to change. Have a great day!

Omid
« Last Edit: December 01, 2013, 04:15:49 AM by Pizza Napoletana »
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Offline stonecutter

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Re: A PHILOSOPHY OF PIZZA NAPOLETANISMO!
« Reply #2295 on: December 01, 2013, 07:39:04 AM »
Omid, I keep looking at your pictures showing the coal retainer that you are using, and I think it shows something noteworthy as it relates to baking Neapolitan pizza in a small oven. 

 Your retainer appears to be the tallest one I have seen..not by much, maybe an inch.  I think it is acting not only as a retainer, but as a shield/deflector.  I am thinking that with a smaller oven, with the pizza at close proximity to the heat source ( for NP temps) the shielding effect of the metal reduces the amount of heat radiating from the coal bed at floor level.   The benefit would be reducing the chances of over charring one side of the pie...since you want to go nuclear with NP pizza.

 Do you find it easier to manage your baking since you have used it?

I built my current oven on the small side (33") and I had to move the pizza sooner, and a bit more frequently than in my other oven (39.5")  when the fire is roaring.    It's not a huge problem though.

As mentioned, my current retainer is a soapstone drop, and it's only 1.5" high.  I have some SS steel sheet that I plan on using to make a more permanent retainer, probably in the range of 3"- 4", and I'm looking forward to seeing the results.

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Offline TXCraig1

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Re: A PHILOSOPHY OF PIZZA NAPOLETANISMO!
« Reply #2296 on: December 01, 2013, 09:58:01 AM »
Omid, I keep looking at your pictures showing the coal retainer that you are using, and I think it shows something noteworthy as it relates to baking Neapolitan pizza in a small oven. 

 Your retainer appears to be the tallest one I have seen..not by much, maybe an inch.  I think it is acting not only as a retainer, but as a shield/deflector.  I am thinking that with a smaller oven, with the pizza at close proximity to the heat source ( for NP temps) the shielding effect of the metal reduces the amount of heat radiating from the coal bed at floor level.   The benefit would be reducing the chances of over charring one side of the pie...since you want to go nuclear with NP pizza.

 Do you find it easier to manage your baking since you have used it?

I built my current oven on the small side (33") and I had to move the pizza sooner, and a bit more frequently than in my other oven (39.5")  when the fire is roaring.    It's not a huge problem though.

As mentioned, my current retainer is a soapstone drop, and it's only 1.5" high.  I have some SS steel sheet that I plan on using to make a more permanent retainer, probably in the range of 3"- 4", and I'm looking forward to seeing the results.

Omid and I discussed this on several occasions starting about a year ago: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,14506.msg218922.html#msg218922 scroll down a few responses to see his reply.

I built one to test in my oven, and it didn't make any difference.  It is now the base of the rotisserie I use in the WFO.
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Offline stonecutter

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Re: A PHILOSOPHY OF PIZZA NAPOLETANISMO!
« Reply #2297 on: December 01, 2013, 03:27:58 PM »
Omid and I discussed this on several occasions starting about a year ago: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,14506.msg218922.html#msg218922 scroll down a few responses to see his reply.

I built one to test in my oven, and it didn't make any difference.  It is now the base of the rotisserie I use in the WFO.

So it appears to have a positive effect with a smaller oven.  I never saw it serving the same purpose in a large oven.. At least, there would be no need to have a retainer quite as high as for a small  oven
« Last Edit: December 01, 2013, 03:40:52 PM by stonecutter »
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Offline Pizza Napoletana

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Re: A PHILOSOPHY OF PIZZA NAPOLETANISMO!
« Reply #2298 on: December 02, 2013, 08:14:18 PM »
Omid, I keep looking at your pictures showing the coal retainer that you are using, and I think it shows something noteworthy as it relates to baking Neapolitan pizza in a small oven. 

 Your retainer appears to be the tallest one I have seen..not by much, maybe an inch.  I think it is acting not only as a retainer, but as a shield/deflector.  I am thinking that with a smaller oven, with the pizza at close proximity to the heat source ( for NP temps) the shielding effect of the metal reduces the amount of heat radiating from the coal bed at floor level.   The benefit would be reducing the chances of over charring one side of the pie...since you want to go nuclear with NP pizza.

 Do you find it easier to manage your baking since you have used it?

I built my current oven on the small side (33") and I had to move the pizza sooner, and a bit more frequently than in my other oven (39.5")  when the fire is roaring.    It's not a huge problem though.

As mentioned, my current retainer is a soapstone drop, and it's only 1.5" high.  I have some SS steel sheet that I plan on using to make a more permanent retainer, probably in the range of 3"- 4", and I'm looking forward to seeing the results.

Dear Stonecutter, my steel retainer/shield is exactly 2 inches in height. It has definitely been a benefit in terms of stopping the hot coals and ash from expanding across the oven floor where my pizzas are actually baked. As you can see, the floor space on which I bake my pizzas is small and confined. I refrain from removing hot coals during the operations because I want them to accumulate and get high enough so that the flames can traverse with ease across the dome. In addition, the height can help not to cast a shadow on the pizza rim.

Has the shield been a benefit in terms of how the pizzas bake? In my not so well-informed opinion, sometime "yes" and sometimes "no". If I am not mistaken, it seems to me that the steel shield sometimes does not let enough energy reach the rim of pizzas, leaving a white band around the cornicione. (See the 3rd picture below.) I am not sure; I believe there are other factors involved.

Sometimes, I bake my pizzas without the shield. I prefer that, for the rims bake better as long as the pizzas do not land too close to the hot coals.  But then I run the risk of having a wood log or hot coal landing on the pizza. Good night!
« Last Edit: December 02, 2013, 08:25:22 PM by Pizza Napoletana »
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Offline stonecutter

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Re: A PHILOSOPHY OF PIZZA NAPOLETANISMO!
« Reply #2299 on: December 02, 2013, 09:25:25 PM »
Dear Stonecutter, my steel retainer/shield is exactly 2 inches in height. It has definitely been a benefit in terms of stopping the hot coals and ash from expanding across the oven floor where my pizzas are actually baked. As you can see, the floor space on which I bake my pizzas is small and confined. I refrain from removing hot coals during the operations because I want them to accumulate and get high enough so that the flames can traverse with ease across the dome. In addition, the height can help not to cast a shadow on the pizza rim.

Has the shield been a benefit in terms of how the pizzas bake? In my not so well-informed opinion, sometime "yes" and sometimes "no". If I am not mistaken, it seems to me that the steel shield sometimes does not let enough energy reach the rim of pizzas, leaving a white band around the cornicione. (See the 3rd picture below.) I am not sure; I believe there are other factors involved.

Sometimes, I bake my pizzas without the shield. I prefer that, for the rims bake better as long as the pizzas do not land too close to the hot coals.  But then I run the risk of having a wood log or hot coal landing on the pizza. Good night!

Omid, thank you for the reply.   I can see what you mean in the third picture.   Maybe the ash that is against the retainer insulates the steel which would greatly reduce the temps radiating from it.
...does that effect happen to the cornicione every time you use the steel?   I am away from home until next week, and I can't wait to experiment with some ideas.
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