Author Topic: My first NY (that I didn't calzone!)  (Read 1664 times)

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Offline Malanga

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My first NY (that I didn't calzone!)
« on: May 19, 2012, 12:04:21 AM »
I'm pretty stoked about the pie I just kicked out!  After following Scott123s advice about setting up my oven (http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,18589.msg184585.html#msg184585 and http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,18532.msg180363.html#msg180363), I think I just made a pie that has me on my way to making some decent NY pies.  And the house smells awesome!

So, first Scott123 suggested that I set up a hearth with tile ceiling in my gas oven, being that I have an infamous bottom drawer broiler style oven.  I was able to find 8 x 8  unglazed dark grey quarry tiles at a local store (although close to black would have been good for the ceiling).  Also, following Scott's advice I cut a piece of insulation fire brick to use as an oven probe.  The brick was cut with a hand saw to ~ 1" x 1" x 6.5" and a hole was drilled 5.75" through the lateral 1/3 due to the proximity of the probe to the lateral oven wall (pics to follow).

I set the oven at 500 and heated for an 1hr 15 min.  The IR therm read at 680 in the center of the hearth and varied somewhat around the cooking element, but dipping no lower than 650 near its perimeter.  The ceiling of the hearth (underside) was reading just a tad below this in the mid 640s, while the topside was reading mid 500s.  Oh, I should mention that I did have foil, shiny side down, underneath the ceiling tiles (I'm not sure if this is a great idea, but I tried anyway).

Having hit these temps, I thought it was time to get busy.  I shaped my dough, dressed, and fire it in with the peel and had a good launch.  I left the pie in for 5 minutes (checked after 3 and it was not ready), but most definitely burned the bottom; 5 was too long, but not by much.  It still tasted ok, but it was too rough.

Half an hour later I decided to give my other dough ball a go, especially because I felt like I was pretty close to having something halfway decent coming out of that new oven set up.  I checked the temps and they dropped, even though I did not turn off the oven.  Look down, and YEP, the broiler shut off.  Tile readings on the hearth were only at 600 around the center and then progressively dropping off to the mid 500s around the perimeter.  So, I fired up the broiler, waited 10 minutes, didn't bother taking any IR reads in fear of losing any newly accumulated heat if I were to open the door, and started prepping for another go.

I shaped a 14 inch pie, which ended up shrinking a bit on my launch (something that I have read I should usually expect), and had another good launch... although my adrenaline really gets pumping during that peel push and pull.  I let out a WOOOOO!  after landing it as if I just scored a touchdown and my wife looked at me like I was nuts.  Smart lady.

This time I didn't want to take any chances on burning, so I checked after 3 minutes, in which time the pie was almost there but the crust looked a bit uncooked while the undercarriage had a bit to go as well.  Gave her a 180 turn and waited... staring at the clock...  After a nod shy of 4:30 I pulled it.  The smell of the kitchen told me something good was happening and when I saw the pie I was pretty happy with the results.  The cheese melt looked like a NY pie to me.  It definitely smelled like a NY slice, not that this means too much, but it got me all giddy.  And while I have had pies in NY and NJ with similar color crusts, I was not completely satisfied with the color of the crust (or lack of) on this pie; it was a bit too white (although not AS white as in the cell phone pics below).  I'll either have to find darker (as black as possible) tiles for the hearth ceiling and/or add more sugar (which was at 1.5%).

Coloration disappointment aside, the slices drooped like a NY slice and if they were larger, I'd be folding em up like a NY slice (assuming I'm in the folding mood at least).  Most importantly, it tasted like a NY style pizzeria pizza- certainly not close to the best I've had, but close to some of the average slices I've had.  But all-in-all... I feel like I've taken a new step on this pizza journey.  Big ups to Scott 123 for encouraging me and tutoring me so far.  I wouldn't have played with the oven to hit higher temps if it weren't for him. I really appreciate it.  

Okay, let me post some pics.  Sorry if I wrote too much there, but I'm on a pizza high!  Thanks for reading!  (Constructive criticism please!)
« Last Edit: May 19, 2012, 10:27:34 PM by Malanga »


Offline Malanga

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Re: My first NY (that I didn't calzone!)
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2012, 12:17:43 AM »
oven

Offline Malanga

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Re: My first NY (that I didn't calzone!)
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2012, 12:18:31 AM »
probe, with firebrick

Offline Malanga

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Re: My first NY (that I didn't calzone!)
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2012, 12:23:12 AM »
The pale crust pie, although it is whiter in the pic than it really was.  Cell phone flash kicked up the pallor a bit.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2012, 02:27:21 AM by Malanga »

Offline Malanga

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Re: My first NY (that I didn't calzone!)
« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2012, 12:23:52 AM »
I like this pic.

Offline Malanga

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Re: My first NY (that I didn't calzone!)
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2012, 12:25:43 AM »
the droop without cheese avalanche!

Offline Malanga

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Re: My first NY (that I didn't calzone!)
« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2012, 12:27:07 AM »
slice

Offline Malanga

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Re: My first NY (that I didn't calzone!)
« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2012, 12:30:55 AM »
under

Offline Malanga

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Re: My first NY (that I didn't calzone!)
« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2012, 12:51:46 AM »
I should note that I used jshap88's recipe, minus the oil, although I did use a bit of olive oil to line my dough containers.  

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,18694.msg182483.html#msg182483

the dough ball was a bit shy of 14oz and the final diameter was 13.5, giving about 0.10 thickness factor.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2012, 12:59:27 AM by Malanga »

Offline Malanga

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Re: My first NY (that I didn't calzone!)
« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2012, 02:33:45 AM »
under the slice


scott123

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Re: My first NY (that I didn't calzone!)
« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2012, 12:59:49 PM »
That's awesome, Andrew.  Great write up.  Regardless of the lack of color on the rim, I'm sure that was a great tasting slice. If you look at some of Bill's (Chickenparm) pies, you're in his territory.  If you go back a couple of decades, quite a few pizzas used to be this pale. I'm a fan of this amount of color as well.

Here's the constructive criticism you asked for  ;D

First off, get rid of the foil.  It's probably bouncing some heat away from the ceiling and preventing the tiles from pre-heating properly.  It's also probably not contacting the tiles perfectly. With any kind of an air gap, even a fraction of an inch, you're taking the thermal mass of the tiles out of the equation.  Lastly, foil is one of the worse emitters there is, and ceiling heat is all about emission/IR radiation. Sometimes bouncing radiative heat is a good idea (such as in David Deas's setup), but in a ceiling scenario such as yours, rather than bouncing the energy, you want to absorb it, collect it in the tiles and emit it. You'll want to use some foil for closing the ceiling/wall gap to around 1/4" on all sides, but don't put foil under the ceiling tiles.

Since our conversation about ceilings, it occurred to me that ceiling tiles, because they don't come in contact with the food, can be glazed. This will allow you to pick up a nice deep black glazed tile.  Try, if possible, to work with small tiles. Around 4" is ideal.  The smaller the tile, the more resistant it is to thermal shock.

Practicing launching will go a long way in preventing that apprehensive feeling you're getting when launching pies.  Make an extra dough ball, stretch it, top it with a lb. of dried beans and launch it onto the counter (aiming for the same spot) over and over again.

Being very liberal when dusting the peel doesn't hurt either and going with a good dusting agent goes a long way in creating a slippery surface.  I've been using 50/50 semolina and bread flour, and the semolina acts like ball bearings. The semolina I'm using does taste a bit gritty, though, so I might change brands or see what corn meal does for me. Regardless of what you blend, blending two different size grains makes a world of difference when it comes to ease of launching.

What's the vertical space between hearth and ceiling?  Is it 3" or less?

I'm having a hard time seeing the insulating brick. Could you take a shot of the brick outside of the oven? How snug is the brick on the probe?

What cheese is that?  Whatever brand it is, stick with it, because it looks good.

Add the oil to the recipe. NY style should have some oil and the oil will help a bit with the browning. Also, the dough should not be smooth prior to cold fermentation, as fermentation will develop the gluten further.  Shoot for something between cottage cheese looking and smooth.  With a food processor, this could get tricky.

These are the daltile tiles, right?  They look pretty sturdy/dense, but, unfortunately, this density seems to be driving up their conductivity. Speaking of foil's ability to bounce heat... you might want to try putting foil under the hearth to act as a mild deflector.  That may give you slightly higher ceiling temps.  Another thing you can do is incorporate a screen towards the end of the bake.  Don't start the pie on screen, no matter how much easier it would be to nix the launch. If, say, you're doing a 4 minute with a stone at 600, try pushing the stone to 625 and going 2 minutes without the screen, 2 minutes with. Lastly, if you find the bottom is getting too much color and the top is still pale, keep doming in mind.  With a metal peel, you should be able to lift the pizza a little closer to the ceiling and, in a short time, pick up some color.

Overall, this is just little stuff. You're well along the way to making a truly kickass NY style pie in a broilerless oven setup.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2012, 01:03:15 PM by scott123 »

Offline Jet_deck

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Re: My first NY (that I didn't calzone!)
« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2012, 03:09:14 PM »
That is a great story and write-up.  The bottom looked perfect.  I have seen pictures of the 'not much color on top' NY pizzas that Dr. Scotty was speaking of and I agree that your pizzas matched those perfectly.  It appears your well on the way to a NY street slice, congrats. :chef: :pizza:
Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes bends

buceriasdon

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Re: My first NY (that I didn't calzone!)
« Reply #12 on: May 19, 2012, 07:49:54 PM »
i had a oven much like yours with a bottom broiler. Here's what you need to do to get top color. Place some more tiles in the lower broiler tray. when the bottom gets properly done, pull it out and place it below the broiler. Watch it, it won't take much time to bake the top. Trust me, I used this technique for several years, it works.
Don

Offline Malanga

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Re: My first NY (that I didn't calzone!)
« Reply #13 on: May 20, 2012, 12:05:28 PM »
Wow, thanks Scott, Don, and Jet Deck.  Stoked to hear you big guns replying and complimenting and, like always, I really appreciate the tips.  Always learning in these parts.  And I think I'm still riding on that same high from the other day.  Pizza is some powerful stuff huh?

Scott, the Metro Ceramic tiles I picked up are definitely sturdy, which is good when I have to remove the tiles from the oven; they stack pretty well and aren't crumbling all over the kitchen (like the first order from HD).  I picked them up at a local tile shop.  This brand was the only one they had that were unglazed.  I'll take a ride over and see what kind of black tiles they have as well.  The company has been in business for almost 50 years and they are very personable; they took me in the back of the warehouse to find the tiles, knowing that I was using them for baking.  Who knows, maybe I'll bring them a pie for being so nice  ;D

I don't have the camera phone to take a shot now, but the insulation brick fits very snug over the probe.  The drill bit I used happened to be very close in gauge to that of the probe.  In fact, I had to give it a bit of push when putting it on, and the brick touches the back wall.  I may make another that is a bit thicker and compare temps.  

Now for the height of the hearth, and the difference in height between it and the ceiling:  Right now, the vertical space is a bit more than 4 inches.  I would like to go smaller, but that may leave only 2.5 inches (quite possibly less) to launch.  I know reducing the space will help even out the top/bottom browning, but I'm not sure I can work in a space that tiny, at least with my current launching skills (uh, lack of).  Also, my oven-in-an-oven set up is pretty low right now; I have to get on my knees, or assume a deep martial arts stance to launch my pies (and I look pretty fun doing this).  This is really not a big deal, especially because the bottom of the pie turned out exactly the way I want it.  I may raise it one rack just to see if there is a difference; I'm thinking there will be.  This may make it easier to launch in a smaller space though.  If I can learn to launch pies in a Shaolin kung fu stance, I should have stand-up down well when I finally get the chance to work at shoulder level (if I'm ever so lucky).

I like the doming idea and will def try it first if I need a bit more top browning.  If that doesn't suffice, I may try Donny's broiler method as well (thanks Donny!).  Before all of this, I will place the foil under the hearth tiles to see if my ceiling temps kick up a few degrees.  If there this isn't much improvement, then it's on to plans B and C.  I don't have a screen yet, so that will have to hold for the time being.  I think I have to hold off on my pizza spending account for a month or so, even though a screen is cheap.  The crust color isn't too far off from where I need to be, so it may just take a bit of tinkering (and really hoping the doming works).

Cheese:  I actually just use the local food store mozz and provolone (Giant Eagle brand).  I say it's a 60/40 mix of provolone to part skim mozzarella. I've always like the pies with a bit of prov in there.  With some of the other pies I've made, I also mixed in a bit of white cheddar, which also tastes good, but without any hint of a cheddar taste in there.

Again, thanks for all the tips guys.  The site is a gem (and I'm spreading the word with other displaced NY/NJ folks who yearn for a slice of home).  Until next time...



scott123

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Re: My first NY (that I didn't calzone!)
« Reply #14 on: May 21, 2012, 12:19:20 PM »
Andrew, ideally, the closer you can put the hearth to the bottom of the oven, the better, but, for ease of access, if you want to move everything up a shelf, it wouldn't be the end of the world.

I'm a bit surprised that the the snug fitting firebrick is allowing enough heat to not only cut out the heat, but to cut it out long enough for parts of the hearth to reach 500.

If you can get your hands on more tiles, try doubling the ceiling tiles. That might slow down the upwardly mobile heat transfer a bit. Also, take a look at the vents in the floor and, and try, with the foil border on the ceiling, to match that opening with the ceiling gap.  You really want just enough of an opening in the ceiling to let enough air to flow for proper combustion, but not enough for much heat to rise.

Btw, didn't Gordon Liu do some sort of deep pizza launching squat as part of his training in The 36th Chamber of Shaolin?

Offline Malanga

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Re: My first NY (that I didn't calzone!)
« Reply #15 on: June 08, 2012, 11:27:05 PM »
Hey Scott, sorry about the slow reply;  been a busy few weeks.  

I haven't been able to get my hands on darker tiles for the ceiling just yet, but I did double up on top, which resulted in a bit more top browning.  I also domed for 30 seconds.  My old man came out to visit almost 2 weeks ago and since he is an anchovy fan, I had to load a pie up with those bad boys for him.  It came out pretty darn good; I could tell by how he attacked his slices and hovered over that last slice of the pie, trying to be polite, but hoping there were no takers.  Haha!  

With family coming and going (to see our 2 month old baby boy) I was in the flow of making pies every few days, but since then I have yet to fire up the oven.  Guess I have to get back to it.  Thanks again for the advice.

And yes, I do believe Gordon Liu engages in deep horse stance pie launching- dragon claw style- in the deleted scenes... or is the during one of his training montages as Pai Mei in KB?  Hmm...

scott123

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Re: My first NY (that I didn't calzone!)
« Reply #16 on: June 12, 2012, 01:06:01 PM »
 :-D deep horse stance pie launching, yes. And with all his efforts, the disciple thinks he's getting pizza in the end, but that wily old master tricks him every time and eats all the pizza himself.

That's fantastic that you were able to produce a pizza that your father devoured.
 


 

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