Author Topic: The Stoned Countertop Pizza Oven  (Read 14089 times)

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Offline Les

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The Stoned Countertop Pizza Oven
« on: June 20, 2005, 02:10:56 AM »
I thought Iíd start a new thread for those who might want to consider a countertop pizza oven as an option.  I confess Iíve been disappointed since buying mine last summer.  I hoped a Bakers Pride oven, dedicated to pizza making, would solve all my problems.  It didnít, and I blamed the oven mostly.  Iíve actually tried to sell it a couple of times . . . thank (whom/whatever) I wasnít successful.  Iíll repost  a couple of pics to make sure everyone knows what Iím talking about:


Offline Les

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Re: The Stoned Countertop Pizza Oven
« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2005, 02:12:01 AM »
Undoubtedly a big part of my problem has been not understanding the physics/chemistry of dough.  Thanks to everyone for the help so far; I have lots more to learn.  I donít want to seem premature, but I think I might have stumbled onto something that could be interesting.

The Bakers Pride countertop oven, with its wire baking rack, is designed to use with pizza screens, or pans, but Iíve never been able to get it to produce crusts anything like I see even regular ovens achieve here with the members at PM.

Kicking and screaming tonight I decided to try placing a pizza stone on top of the wire baking rack, and to use a NY-type dough made in one day with KASL flour, yeast, etc.:

Offline Les

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Re: The Stoned Countertop Pizza Oven
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2005, 02:13:15 AM »
We (wife and I) typically prefer less dough with our pizza, so for tonightís 12 inch pizza I altered Peterís formula of 3.14 x r x r x .1 to 3.14 x r (6) x r (6) x .08 which comes to about 9 ounces of dough.

After stretching the dough to 12 inches, I added 8 ounces of low moisture mozzarella, sliced.

For my ďsauceĒ I tried Peterís suggestion of baking my little ďgrapeĒ tomatoes, salted and coated lightly with olive oil, for 20 minutes at low heat; I added 1 T of fresh chopped oregano and a pinch of freshly ground anise seed before the bake (with anise seed Iíve found the secret is to use just enough to make people ask, ďwhat is that?Ē . . . i.e., keep it really subtle).  When the tomatoes were done, I added some freshly chopped and salted cherry tomatoes so that the tomato proportions were 80% baked grape and 20% uncooked cherry (thatís the source of the red and orange in my picture).  I spread that over the mozzarella.

The last stage was to mix together two finely chopped garlic cloves lightly coated with olive oil, and approx. 1/3 ounce shredded asiago cheese.  I spread that evenly over the top of the pizza.

I placed the pizza on the stone in the oven preheated to 650į, and 3.5 minutes later here was the result:

Offline Les

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Re: The Stoned Countertop Pizza Oven
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2005, 02:14:36 AM »
What really shocked me was the 3.5 minute baking time.  I have never, ever come close to that sort of baking brevity without the pizza stone.  The bottom was charred, maybe too much.  I suspect 3 minutes would be even better:

Offline Les

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Re: The Stoned Countertop Pizza Oven
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2005, 02:15:45 AM »
The crust had a slight crunch on the surface, but an easy bite put you through it and into a very chewy and airy center.  Again, Iíve never even come close to achieving this kind of crust before:

Offline Les

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Re: The Stoned Countertop Pizza Oven
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2005, 02:16:45 AM »
My current working theory is, the Bakers Pride engineers really missed a design opportunity when they chose a wire rack as the baking surface.  Obviously I need to experiment more, but after three attempts which all gave similar results, I suspect the ovenís performance can be dramatically improved with the stone (even the 5/8 inch elevation the stone adds seems just right).  Also, one cool feature of this oven is that it has separate switches for the lower and upper heating elements, so one has more baking options if thatís ever needed.

As I learn to make and work with the different dough types, it should be interesting to see how the oven handles them.

Offline PizzaPolice

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Re: The Stoned Countertop Pizza Oven
« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2005, 11:07:44 AM »
Les:

The designers didn't miss anything.  Your particular model was designed for parbaked skins not fresh dough.  That's the reason for the wire rack. 
The oven I use heats to 650 and has three elements.  One on the top and one under each deck.  After several lighter than air tops (I'm eating clouds) and seriously burned bottoms, I realized these ovens will never replicate a Hi-Temp wood oven.  The decks are too hot.   No matter what type of dough I use or size or amount of toppings, a Neapolitan style isn't coming out of here until the deck and air temps can be reversed.  500-550 is about right.  I can crank it up to get the benefit of radiant heat - but it's still not there.
So, I'm happy making great NY and other styles.  For now...

Danny

Offline PizzaPolice

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Re: The Stoned Countertop Pizza Oven
« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2005, 11:08:47 AM »
Oh, I forgot.  Go CUBS!

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: The Stoned Countertop Pizza Oven
« Reply #8 on: June 20, 2005, 11:09:10 AM »
Les,

Since you like a thin crust, you might want to test your oven on a Raquel dough, which is thin along the lines of a Patsy's crust.

Since I dry the grape tomatoes for a lot longer than you (an hour or more at 200-250 degrees F), I wondered how they played out on the pizza, especially in the combination of fresh/dry you used.

It's too bad that someone doesn't design a special oven for home pizza makers such as ourselves. If I had to guess, the people who could do the best job at this are the ones who market to professional pizza operators and, consequently, would have no sales organization that targets non-professionals. I also suspect that the consumer market would be too small to mess around with.

Peter

Offline Les

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Re: The Stoned Countertop Pizza Oven
« Reply #9 on: June 20, 2005, 12:00:54 PM »
Oh, I forgot.† Go CUBS!

I'm curious about your baking surface.  Is that stone I see inside the big oven?  I also can't see if you have separate switches for your heating elements.

I'd guess you think cooking my NY style pizza at 650 was too hot.  The only drawback I noticed was the chopped garlic didn't cook quite thoroughly as when I was taking 8 minutes to cook a pizza.  I figured in the future I'd precook them a bit in the microwave.

I pretty much suspected I'd not be able to achieve the Neapolitan, but I haven't tried yet either.  I wonder if the close quarters on top (2.5 inches now with the stone there), and possibly using just the upper element at some point in the baking process might not achieve the deck-air temp balance you spoke of (though obviously not the higher temps).  I'll measure temperatures with a few variations in settings when I get a chance.

BTW, didn't you mean . . . go GIANTS!


Offline Les

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Re: The Stoned Countertop Pizza Oven
« Reply #10 on: June 20, 2005, 12:28:19 PM »
Since you like a thin crust, you might want to test your oven on a Raquel dough, which is thin along the lines of a Patsy's crust.

Yes, I'm going to try every single type of dough here, despite feeling not confident about achieving the Neopolitan style.

Since I dry the grape tomatoes for a lot longer than you (an hour or more at 200-250 degrees F), I wondered how they played out on the pizza, especially in the combination of fresh/dry you used.

I meant to give you feedback about that but forgot.

I tried it twice.  Not wanting to crank up two ovens I used my pizza oven at 300į (the lowest listed setting) for about 1/2 hour (now that I think about it) rather than 20 minutes as I said.  The first night the proportions were 2/3 baked grape tomatoes (cooked with a light coating of olive oil, salt and a pinch of anise seed), mixed with 1/3  fresh chopped and drained grape tomatoes, salt and 1 T fresh chopped oregano. 

Last night I only had enough grape tomatoes for the baking part (and the store was out too), so I substitued cherry tomatoes for the fresh tomato part; because they were so tart I reduced the percentage to 1/5 (rather than 1/3 as I'd used for the previous night's fresh proportion).  Also different was that I added the oregano to the grape tomatoes to be baked to see how the additional cooking would taste. 

Last night's tomato mixture wasn't nearly as good, the cherry tomatoes were distracting, and I didn't like the extra cooking of the oregano either.

I haven't tried cooking the grape tomatoes for an hour, but I can report the olive-oiled, 1/2 hour baked grapes added a lot of extra flavor.  I really liked that they were still moist but a little denser, and their contrast with the fresh grapes.  Lotsa sweet tomato flavor!  In fact I liked it so much I have to thank you for the great suggestion.   :)

Offline PizzaPolice

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Re: The Stoned Countertop Pizza Oven
« Reply #11 on: June 20, 2005, 12:32:26 PM »
Yeah, it has two stones.  One temperature control.  The other is just a 15 minute timer.
I'm sure the 650 is there for a reason, I'm not good enough to use it just yet.  After 550, the cornmeal starts to smoke.  I don't have a vent for this bad boy so you can imagine what happens.  I've learned that to use a higher temp., the toppings have to reduced, including the sauce.   I drain wet stuff like olive and mushrooms with a sieve, pressing with a paper towel.  As far as garlic, try sauteing it lightly - Mmm.. better flavor.

Man, I can't wait for you to get the outdoor brick oven bug...

Offline scott r

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Re: The Stoned Countertop Pizza Oven
« Reply #12 on: June 20, 2005, 01:01:57 PM »
My wife really likes cornmeal on the bottom of crust, but I have had to abandon it since switching to high temps.  Be very careful, I have actually seen it burst into flames on the bottom of the oven one time during a 15 pizza marathon.  This was even with a 550 degree oven.  I do have to admit the flamed pizza was pretty amazing. ;D

Offline Les

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Re: The Stoned Countertop Pizza Oven
« Reply #13 on: June 20, 2005, 02:48:07 PM »
Quote
Man, I can't wait for you to get the outdoor brick oven bug...

Oh, I'd have the bug if it were feasible for me to build one, but since I can't right now I won't even let myself wish for it.

Offline Les

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Re: The Stoned Countertop Pizza Oven
« Reply #14 on: June 20, 2005, 02:54:25 PM »
My wife really likes cornmeal on the bottom of crust, but I have had to abandon it since switching to high temps.

Last night I dusted the peel with semolina flour.  That worked quite well. 

Today I ordered an alumninum peel, and some of King Arthur's 00 flour (since I was ordering KASL there anyway).  I have to give the Neapolitan thing at least the old college try. 

I also ordered some of KA's malt because a local pizza maker told me he uses it.  Has anybody worked with it?

BTW, thanks Scott for encouraging me to try the stone in the countertop.  The quality of life has majorly improved for me!  :P

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: The Stoned Countertop Pizza Oven
« Reply #15 on: June 20, 2005, 03:01:31 PM »
Which malt did you get? Diastatic or non-diastatic? Liquid or dry? Do you know which your local pizza maker uses?

Peter

Offline Les

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Re: The Stoned Countertop Pizza Oven
« Reply #16 on: June 20, 2005, 06:14:39 PM »
Which malt did you get? Diastatic or non-diastatic? Liquid or dry? Do you know which your local pizza maker uses?

I don't know what the local pizza maker uses, but I ordered dry non-diastatic.  I just read your exchange with fritz in the thread "Tonight's NY Style Pizza," and your comments about malt.  I didn't notice any recommendations for how much to use, so if you have a suggestion I would appreciate it.  Any other info or opinions would be welcome too.

Coincidentally you guys talked about the aluminum pizza peel too (which I just bought), along with your fears of disaster.  I've already had one disaster with a wooden peel, so I was hoping the metal one might work better.

I don't know if you saw what I said about using semolina flour to coat the peel (liberally too).  Like Scott, I've burned corn meal, and so bad it seemed the only thing I tasted while I ate the pizza.  Last night the semolina flour worked like a champ.  It's miniscule spherical granules seemed to help the dough roll around on the peel easily.  It didn't burn at all either.

Offline PizzaBrewer

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Re: The Stoned Countertop Pizza Oven
« Reply #17 on: June 20, 2005, 06:32:57 PM »

Coincidentally you guys talked about the aluminum pizza peel too (which I just bought), along with your fears of disaster.† I've already had one disaster with a wooden peel, so I was hoping the metal one might work better.

My experience has been that a wooden peel is much better than an aluminum one for depositing the raw pizza on the oven stone.  I started with an aluminum one, had several disasters, then bought a wooden one.  It's been much easier to use and has required far less dusting flour and/or semolina.  I don't use corn meal as I don't like the texture on the pizza crust.

I'll be interested to hear your experiences.

---Guy
Man does not live by bread alone.  There's also tomato, cheese and pepperoni.

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: The Stoned Countertop Pizza Oven
« Reply #18 on: June 20, 2005, 06:47:18 PM »
Les,

I think you will find that the container in which the non-diastatic malt comes will give you the amounts to use. I have a liquid non-diastatic malt and it can be substituted for honey on a one-for-one basis. For sugar, one has to reduce the amount of water in the recipe a bit because of the liquid in the liquid barley malt. I suspect you will find that you can substitute the dry non-diastatic malt on a one-for-one basis for sugar. Remember that non-diastatic malt is a sweetener only, and doesn't perform the same way as diastatic malt, which provides enhanced amylase activity to convert damaged starch to natural sugars for use by the yeast in the fermentation process. If I had to guess, your local pizza maker may be using diastatic malt. Many flours are malted to begin with, but he may be buying unmalted flour and adding the diastatic malt himself.

Peter

Offline Danes Dad

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Re: The Stoned Countertop Pizza Oven
« Reply #19 on: April 05, 2006, 02:47:01 PM »
PizzaPolice - Is your countertop Bakers Pride comparable to a standard pizzeria bakers pride deck oven?  If it even comes close I would be very interested.    Can you put a 16" pie in the oven?  Also, where did you get that peel I can see in the picture?

Danes Dad