55 Pizzas in three hours and no pictures!! Quite an experience and pretty tired at the end.
This was my first ever large batch of pizzas for my son's high school graduation party.
Congratulations! The more pies you bake, the more you hone your skills in this "craft"(to borrow the word from Tony Gemignani).
Some things that were a challenge that I'd appreciate any advice more experienced folks have to give:
Glad to try!
- Remembering what someone ordered. I need to get a whiteboard or something to jot down orders. My short term memory is very leaky.
Shorten the menu. If I have only one or two familes over and less than 15 or so guests, then I will have basically everything on hand, and even take requests. When the number of guests is between 20 and 30, I will decide on 3 or 4, fast-to-top pies to be on the menu only. After my guests, or at least the kids, start to fill up, I expand the menu to include other ingredients. For huge parties of 40 to 50 guests, I divide those guests into three groups and ask each of them to show up (for example) at noon, then 12:30 and finally 1:00pm. This ensures that they can eat when they arrive.
- Remembering that I had a pizza in the oven. After launching, someone would start a conversation with me and I'd forget to keep an eye on the pizza. Again, my short term memory is very leaky.
This happens to every guy. Women seem to be able to multi-task better than us guys. I can't even talk and turn pies while I'm shooting my videos, LOL. Best thing to do is to print out a big sign that says "Warning! Distracting the pizzaiolo can cause burnt pizzas!"
- The oven really got quite hot, too hot for my tastes. I prefer to have my floor around 750 and it was up in the 800-850 range as the afternoon wore on. As I was in fear of the floor cooling off too much, I had kept a fairly robust fire going to the side. How does one keep a flame going for proper top-cooking but not end up overheating the oven?
This is normal and good at the same time. I have had the opportunity to use exactly 4 different WFO's over the past 3 years and each heats differently and each radiates and convects a little differently. If you feel your oven floor is too hot, you have a good oven! Now it's time to learn how to cook and rotate off-floor. But more importantly, you have to get into rhythm with managing the flame. Make sure you have good flame no matter what the floor temp is. You can always lift and finish off a 50-70 second bake off the floor and tilting your pie toward the flame.
Usually, I have to pre-heat my oven for a minimum of 2 hours, just to get up to 900f all around. But it works even better after 4 or 6 hours when the masonry is saturated. By then the walls are so saturated with heat that I get 45 - 60 second bakes with the last 15 or 20 seconds being off-the-floor. It's just a matter of learning and getting used to all the different conditions your oven progresses through during any given period of time. You'll bake a certain way for the first few hours and then begin to change your approach as the oven's heat dictates.