Author Topic: Basic oven setup and prep procedure  (Read 1410 times)

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Offline chaspie

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Basic oven setup and prep procedure
« on: March 06, 2013, 04:08:35 PM »
I've never made a pizza that I would consider truly outstanding.  My efforts so far have yielded pies that are sometimes satisfying, but that are often mediocre, exhibiting one or another significant fault.  So I'm embarking on a quest to improve my pizza making skills. 

I've decided to pick one style of pizza, the American style that I'm most familiar with, and try to get good at it before tackling others.  So with that as my objective, I'd like some recommendations on how to best set up my oven and stone, and some tips on prepping and the baking process for this style pizza.

My oven is gas-fired with a broiler at the top of the oven, and it has a convection fan.  The maximum baking, convection baking, and broiling temperature is 550 degrees.   I have a Hearthkit oven insert (cordierite) that I bake my breads and pizzas on. 

How high in the oven should I position the stone for baking pizza?  Should I leave the sidewalls in place for pizza, or should I remove them?  What temperature should I bake at, should I use the broiler to help cook the top of the pizza during all or a portion of the bake, or should I just preheat the oven to the maximum temperature long enough to heat saturate the stone?  What total baking time should I target for American style pizza? 

As for prep, I've read here on this forum and on others that it is best to make the dough a day or so in advance of baking.  I've never done that before, so I'm going to try it.  Are there any other major prep tips to get me started down the path to success?   

Thank you all for your help.  This seems like a great forum, and I hope I can learn, improve, and then help others down the road.


Online Pete-zza

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Re: Basic oven setup and prep procedure
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2013, 05:52:27 PM »
Chuck,

Most American style doughs tend to have a lot of sugar. That makes that style better suited to using pizza screens or disks rather than a pizza stone. However, some members have been able to use a pizza stone to make an American style pizza albeit with some close monitoring of the pizza as it bakes to be sure that the bottom of the crust does not brown too much, or even burn, because of the high sugar levels in the dough.

If you are interested in an American style dough recipe to cut your teeth on, you might check out the recipes at the Papa John's clone thread at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,6758.0.html. Unless you have had a fair amount of experience making doughs with several days of cold fermentation, a good candidate to start with in my opinion, and also based on member feedback, is the one at Reply 20 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,6758.msg59217.html#msg59217.

There are other dough recipes for an American style pizza, but the PJ clones are among the easiest to make. If you have something else in mind, please let us know, and maybe we can suggest something more suitable to you.

Peter

Offline chaspie

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Re: Basic oven setup and prep procedure
« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2013, 08:40:09 PM »
Peter, thank you for that information about using pizza stones for crusts that contain sugar.  I have had difficulty getting the top of the pizza to fully cook before the bottom gets over done (or burnt).  The dough recipe I've been using does have some sugar. 

Here is the recipe I've been using to make two 14 inch pie crusts:

2.5 to 2.75 cups AP flour (about 375g) - I normally use Gold Medal unbleached AP flour
1 TBS sugar
2 TBS powdered non-fat dry milk
1 tsp salt
3 tsp instant dry yeast
1 cup water
2 TBS melted butter (usually) or olive oil

With the exception of the non-fat dry milk in my recipe and the much greater amount of IDY (because I'm always making my dough an hour or so before using it), it doesn't seem too far off from the recipe you provided in Reply 20 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,6758.msg59217.html#msg59217.   So I'm guessing it's a reasonable approximation of an American style pizza crust dough.

I don't have a pizza screen, and I'd like to be able to bake right on my pizza stone, so perhaps the first thing I need to do is pick a different style pizza.   What is a good style for baking directly on the stone?

I'm hoping someone will also have setup recommendations for my oven.  My stone is positioned one third of the way up from the bottom of the oven.  This works out best for my breads, but is this OK for pizza?  Would it be better to raise the stone up nearer the top of the oven?

Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: Basic oven setup and prep procedure
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2013, 10:17:34 PM »
"I don't have a pizza screen, and I'd like to be able to bake right on my pizza stone, so perhaps the first thing I need to do is pick a different style pizza.   What is a good style for baking directly on the stone?"

NY

You will do yourself a huge favor if you take a moment to learn Baker's Percent method.  ;)

Bob
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Offline chaspie

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Re: Basic oven setup and prep procedure
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2013, 12:12:12 AM »
Thank you Bob.  New York style will be rewarding for me, but I'll be limited to 14 inch diameter pies.  Neapolitan style in a WFO appeals to me as well, but I'm not equipped for it.   

Your suggestion to learn about Baker's Percent is well-taken.  It was a confusing concept to me when I first encountered it.  I've very recently started converting my more frequently baked bread recipes to baker's percentages.  It's helping me to understand and control hydration better, at least, which helps me to achieve better batch to batch consistency.  It should make scaling a recipe very easy too.

Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: Basic oven setup and prep procedure
« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2013, 12:21:36 AM »
Thank you Bob.  New York style will be rewarding for me, but I'll be limited to 14 inch diameter pies.  Neapolitan style in a WFO appeals to me as well, but I'm not equipped for it.  

Your suggestion to learn about Baker's Percent is well-taken.  It was a confusing concept to me when I first encountered it.  I've very recently started converting my more frequently baked bread recipes to baker's percentages.  It's helping me to understand and control hydration better, at least, which helps me to achieve better batch to batch consistency.  It should make scaling a recipe very easy too.
chaspie ,
This sounds great, as you have experienced, understanding % formulas gives you increased control in being able to fine tune your observations. And, perhaps, just as important this style of discussing/posting about what you are doing makes it so much easier for folks to respond to you. I normally will just skip on by a post that only shows volume measurements. It is what it is...only people like Peter(and a few other Pros) can simultaneously understand the two measuring methods. I can't walk an chew gum at the same time... ;D. Thanks.  8)
« Last Edit: March 07, 2013, 12:27:50 AM by Chicago Bob »
"Care Free Highway...let me slip away on you"

Offline chaspie

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Re: Basic oven setup and prep procedure
« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2013, 12:58:53 AM »
Bob, I took a stab at converting my volumetric recipe to baker's percentages.  I weighed out the volume of each ingredient three times and averaged.  I'm sure I have a bit more variability when doing it volumetrically from one day to another, but this gives me a more solid baseline if I decide to tweak this recipe further.
     
AP Flour                     (100%)            375 g
Sugar                        (4%)                   15 g
Non-fat Dry Milk        (3.5%)                13 g
Salt                            (1.9%)                 7 g
IDY                             (2.9%)                11 g
Water                         (63.2%)            237 g
Butter                        (8.5%)                32 g            * Use either Butter or
Olive OIl                     (7.5%)                28 g            * Olive Oil, not both

Total Percentage using butter (184%), or olive oil (183%)

The density of butter and olive oil are not identical, so the mass of 2 tablespoons of each differs.  I always use two tablespoons by volume, regardless of which fat I use.

That was fun, but I am going to need to find a new recipe for NY style.


Offline norma427

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Re: Basic oven setup and prep procedure
« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2013, 07:40:43 AM »
Chuck,

I am not sure this might be the right NY style dough you might be looking for, but Peter gave pizzzzagirl very detailed directions in this thread.  http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,2223.0.html

At Peterís post at Reply 8 Peter starts to give pizzzzagirl a formulation to try.  http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,2223.msg19563.html#msg19563   There are many things to be learned in that thread if you read it.  The thread is basically a self-contained thread for someone just starting and wanting to make simple 12-inch (or any other size) Lehmann pizzas if the Lehmann dough calculator is use at http://www.pizzamaking.com/dough_calculator.html

Norma
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Online Pete-zza

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Re: Basic oven setup and prep procedure
« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2013, 08:41:18 AM »
Chuck,

You did a very nice job converting your recipe to baker's percent format. And from your command of concepts like mass and density I can see that you are on top of your game. And, whether you know it or not, you used the method that Tom Lehmann recommends for converting a volume recipe into baker's percent format. See, for example, his PMQ Think Tank post at http://thinktank.pmq.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=1844&p=9651&hilit=#p9651.

While the Lehmann NY style dough recipe that Norma mentioned is one of the more popular recipes on the forum for the NY style, there are many other NY style dough reciopes. I compiled many of them at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,11860.0.html. You might scan the threads and posts noted there to see if something strikes your fancy. As an example, the Glutenboy recipes set forth in Reply 1 are among the most popular non-Lehmann NY style dough recipes on the forum, and for good reason. His pizzas are very good.

There are all kinds of theories and methods for using stones in home ovens. Some of them are discussed in the thread that Norma mentioned. However, there can be differences between a gas oven and an electric oven. I use an electric oven (without a convection feature) so others may better be able to help you with your particular gas oven with the convection feature. Some members have also gone to using steel plates in lieu of stones but that may be something to look into once you feel comfortable with your pizza making skills. Sometimes you have to crawl before you walk and walk before you run.

Peter

Offline chaspie

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Re: Basic oven setup and prep procedure
« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2013, 12:49:07 PM »
Norma, Peter, thank you both for the links.  There is so much information and so many recipes on this site, it really helps to have those recipe collection/index threads.  I'm going to take some time to read through them.  I may start with the Glutenboy's recipe you pointed me to, Peter.  Make dough tonight, and then pizza on Saturday.


 

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