Author Topic: Latest results using new mods to Big Steel Keg  (Read 6522 times)

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Offline bradtri

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Latest results using new mods to Big Steel Keg
« on: December 02, 2012, 10:54:36 AM »
I had been using a suspended stoned as the "roof" for my pizza, but decided I was losing too much hot air around the perimeter of the stone.  I found an 18" pizza pan (for $10!!) at a local restaurant supply store and went with it to close off the gap around the perimeter and force the air to travel over the pizza before exiting upwards via the center hole. 

Results were good.  Definitely more browning of my crust than before and went from a 4 min bake to a 3:30 bake.  Stone temp was at 650 during cooking and rose on up to 700 for about an hour afterwards. 



Offline slybarman

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Re: Latest results using new mods to Big Steel Keg
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2012, 09:35:48 AM »
Oven spring sure looks good and it looks like you had good top heat.

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: Latest results using new mods to Big Steel Keg
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2012, 10:26:55 AM »
Excellent results.  Pies look great!  Thanks for posting and sharing what you did and your results.  So you really don't have to rotate the pie much when baking with your steel keg corrrect?  Maybe one rotation or 2 if there is a hot spot correct?

Chau
« Last Edit: December 04, 2012, 10:28:27 AM by Jackie Tran »

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Latest results using new mods to Big Steel Keg
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2012, 10:44:45 AM »
Great looking NY pie.
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Offline bradtri

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Re: Latest results using new mods to Big Steel Keg
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2012, 05:43:39 PM »
Jackie,
    Actually I did have to rotate each pie once about 180 degrees.  For some reason, I had a hot spot toward the back.  I'm not sure if it was because of uneven heat from below or if it was because the back of the lid doesn't lose as much heat when opened.  I'll be able to tell more the next cook.

    The rotating was easy though as I usually put a screen underneath after 2 minutes.  Then I can just crack the lid a couple inches, grab the screen with some tongs and spin it around.

    I did feel like the top heat was good and the spring seemed to be increased from before.  I'm considering adding another "curve" of metal about 3-4" from the perimeter of the ceiling pan in order to redirect the hot air back down toward the cheese and toppings.  Think this would help?

Offline mvd

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Re: Latest results using new mods to Big Steel Keg
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2012, 10:55:04 PM »
Great results. I always love seeing the clever hacks people make to improve their pies!
Mike

Offline bradtri

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Re: Latest results using new mods to Big Steel Keg
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2012, 09:28:57 AM »
yeah ... I tend to be a bit of a hacker.   Other hacks I've tossed around in my mind:

Salvage a couple fans from a junked convection oven and mount those to blow the hot air across the cooking pizza
  (rejected as too complex and not wanting to introduce an electrical requirement)

Develop a way to "turbo-charge" my grill by capturing the hot air escaping from the top vent and feeding it back into the coals at the bottom
  (not rejected yet, but haven't come up with a good solution)

Increase top heat by having a basket of hot coals above the pizza. 
   (again, a good solution hasn't presented itself yet)

Reduce preheat time by placing the grate/diffuser/stone in my electric oven to preheat while coals are starting up.
   (I've done this a couple times and it knocks 15-20 minutes off of preheat time, but it's a little dicey carrying a heavy, very hot mass of iron and stone down the deck steps!!   But, it is handy on a weeknight if you are pressed for time)


Overall ... cheaper and simpler seem to be the best hacks!!

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: Latest results using new mods to Big Steel Keg
« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2012, 03:48:34 PM »
I'm considering adding another "curve" of metal about 3-4" from the perimeter of the ceiling pan in order to redirect the hot air back down toward the cheese and toppings.  Think this would help?

I think it depends on how cooked you like your cheese.  If you like your cheese a bit more melted or with leopard spots, then yes.  If not then I would just leave it be.   If I ever buy a BGE or a steel keg, I would definitely use your lid mod.  How did you attach the pan to the lid of the keg?

chau

Offline bradtri

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Re: Latest results using new mods to Big Steel Keg
« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2012, 05:15:01 PM »
The pizza pan is suspended from the top using two threaded rods that go up through the top vent.   Initially, when I had a pizza stone for the top plate, this helped to easily adjust the height of the stone.  Now that I've gone to this method with the pizza pan, I may at some point bite the bullet and just drill a couple holes through the side of the BSK lid and mount a couple brackets on the inside.

I would like more melting of the cheese and perhaps a spot of browning or two.

Chau, I think I read in another thread somewhere that you make your own mozzarella?  I tried making my first batch yesterday with mixed results.

I'm pretty sure I had some weak rennet as the curd did not form well after two hours.  Upon researching the packaging code, I determined the rennet was 4 years old and the manufacturer says it is only good for two years.  I added another tablet of rennet and let it set for another hour an got to the point where the whey was mostly clear.  Still, the curd was more cottage cheese like.  The resulting mozz actually seems a little dry.  After cooling in the refrigerator, we were actually able to grate it on the box grater. 

With a 650 temp in my grill, do you think the mozz  should melt pretty good with a 4 minute bake?


Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: Latest results using new mods to Big Steel Keg
« Reply #9 on: December 09, 2012, 09:27:07 PM »
If you want even more top heat for maximum cheese meltage, then your idea about adding an additional ring around the perimeter may work.  What may also work is to have an even smaller hole in the top plate to trap more heat.  But there is probably a point of diminishing returns when you decrease the diameter of the top hole, so some experimentation is in order.

Yes, I have made my own mozzarella before with so so results.  The rennet tablets you use are also known as junket rennet.  I have read that liquid rennet is better for cheese making.  I have made it with pastuerized milk and the results are not great.  Yes it's edible cheese and melts okay on pizza but nothing that excites me.   I don't believe you can make great cheese with pasteurized milk.  I've heard of a few members getting good results with raw milk, but I can't vouch for that. 

I have made some pretty decent cheese using prebought curd and then heating it up and stretching it by hand.   I made a video detailing the process here...  http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=14423.0

I learned by watching different youtube videos and talking to other members.  If you have a Restaurant depot near you, you should be able to source the curd there. 

Chau

Offline bradtri

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Re: Latest results using new mods to Big Steel Keg
« Reply #10 on: December 28, 2012, 06:31:44 PM »
Here is my latest result using my new "down draft" design.  The pic below is looking up into the top of the grill lid.  The hot air comes up around the outside of the stone and then is deflected back down toward the pizza.  I definitely seemed to have more top heat applied to the cheese.

Question:  How do I get rid of the Big Black Bubbles?   I'm not a fan of them.  I'm suspecting that they are due to the way I work the dough.  I really avoid touching the edge of the dough at all, but I'm suspecting the big bubbles are the result of pressing the air from the center of the dough to the outside as it is shaped.

Offline Jet_deck

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Re: Latest results using new mods to Big Steel Keg
« Reply #11 on: December 28, 2012, 10:00:29 PM »
.....   Question:  How do I get rid of the Big Black Bubbles?   I'm not a fan of them.  ....

They are called leoparding.  U could use that as a search term if you want.  Some people try for years to get them, you will need to pop the bubbles as they grow in the oven before they get brown/black.  Maybe you could just learn to like them? :-D :pizza:
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Offline bradtri

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Re: Latest results using new mods to Big Steel Keg
« Reply #12 on: December 29, 2012, 10:09:58 AM »
No .... that's not leoparding.  The smaller spots in between the big black bubbles is pretty close to leoparding. 

Offline mistachy

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Re: Latest results using new mods to Big Steel Keg
« Reply #13 on: December 29, 2012, 05:30:46 PM »
Why is the crust so poofy

Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: Latest results using new mods to Big Steel Keg
« Reply #14 on: December 29, 2012, 05:40:50 PM »
Why is the crust so poofy
From proper fermentation of the dough and the way the dough ball is "opened" for this style of pizza.
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Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: Latest results using new mods to Big Steel Keg
« Reply #15 on: December 29, 2012, 05:46:37 PM »
No .... that's not leoparding.  The smaller spots in between the big black bubbles is pretty close to leoparding. 
brad, what is your term for the large char bubbles?
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Offline bradtri

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Re: Latest results using new mods to Big Steel Keg
« Reply #16 on: December 30, 2012, 09:13:18 AM »
I guess my term would be "defects"  ....  :D

I know that many consider the large char bubbles to be a sign of success, but my goal is to have the even leoparding of the smaller spots without the excessively large bubbles that end up being overly dark (black) for my tastes.  I don't mind having one here and there, but in this last batch, I had about 5-6 evenly spaced on each pie.


Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: Latest results using new mods to Big Steel Keg
« Reply #17 on: December 30, 2012, 10:28:32 AM »
I still like that pie though and it's odd the cheese didn't brown more given the added top heat you now get(not a bad thing, I think it looks great) jus say'in. Whole milk cheese?
As far as eliminating the bubbles...pinch anything in your rim that looks suspect before launch and have a long knife ready while it bakes to poke any bubbles. Check the yeast amount you're using in this recipe...I think your stretching technique is good.
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Offline bradtri

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Re: Latest results using new mods to Big Steel Keg
« Reply #18 on: December 30, 2012, 11:56:43 AM »
I've been a little surprised that I haven't gotten more cheese browning given what I'm getting on the crust.  That last pic above is indeed whole milk mozz from Trader Joe's.  Does whole milk cheese brown better than part-skim?

I've got a new batch of dough that I'll be trying out today.  Two primary changes:  1) I let it do a 2 hour bulk ferment prior to portioning into balls.  2) I left out the sugar on the recipe to see what effect that has. 

I usually have to put a screen under the pizza after 1.5 - 2 minutes to keep the bottom from over browning.  So, maybe the lack of sugar will help even that out.

Today's cheese will again be whole milk mozzarella, but it's a batch of homemade that we did yesterday.

I've been using the "Secret Dipping Sauce" from another thread that I really like.

Offline bfguilford

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Re: Latest results using new mods to Big Steel Keg
« Reply #19 on: December 30, 2012, 11:58:46 AM »
I've been a little surprised that I haven't gotten more cheese browning given what I'm getting on the crust.  That last pic above is indeed whole milk mozz from Trader Joe's.  Does whole milk cheese brown better than part-skim?

Part skim will definitely brown more than whole milk mozz.

Barry
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Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: Latest results using new mods to Big Steel Keg
« Reply #20 on: December 30, 2012, 01:25:37 PM »
Yep, as Barry said,low moisture/part skim will brown a lot more.
Not sure how much sugar you've been using, brad, but I think you will see a big difference....how is the dough looking to you in the container...less/smaller aeration?
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Offline bradtri

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Re: Latest results using new mods to Big Steel Keg
« Reply #21 on: December 30, 2012, 07:05:32 PM »
My sugar before was 3.7%.

Definitely more aeration in the container.   But I think that might have more to do with the bulk ferment and also, I was a bit short for time this morning, so after taking the containers out of the fridge, I set them in a couple inches of warm water to jump start the process a bit before balling.

The balls were roughly twice as large as normal when it came time to make the pies.  They turned out real good although I didn't get any pics.   The cornicione was fairly consistent, and although there were still some larger bubbles, they didn't burn nearly as much this time.

The family verdict was that this was the best yet, so I think I'm headed in the right direction.  The was a definite improvement in the bottom crust being nicely crisp yet still being quite tender.

Offline bradtri

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Re: Latest results using new mods to Big Steel Keg
« Reply #22 on: January 01, 2013, 06:15:48 PM »
For today, I got a little carried away with the charcoal and had temps north of 750 on the stone, so things were a little quicker than normal.  This was a 2:30 bake.  I think I'll return back to the 650 range as I prefer that over today's results.


Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Latest results using new mods to Big Steel Keg
« Reply #23 on: January 01, 2013, 08:18:20 PM »
For today, I got a little carried away with the charcoal and had temps north of 750 on the stone, so things were a little quicker than normal.  This was a 2:30 bake.  I think I'll return back to the 650 range as I prefer that over today's results.



Assuming its not black on the bottom, it looks great to me.

CL
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Offline bradtri

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Re: Latest results using new mods to Big Steel Keg
« Reply #24 on: January 01, 2013, 09:14:23 PM »
There were a few areas on the bottom that were a bit over-charred.  My normal technique is to check the bottom at about 1 minute and throw a screen underneath for the rest of the cook.  But, I have been having a recurring problem where the outside perimeter of the bottom (directly under the cornicione) seems to char faster that the rest.  Is that typical for higher temp cooking?