Author Topic: New to pizza making and I might be in a bit of a predicament.  (Read 4728 times)

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Offline PizzaGuy209

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New to pizza making and I might be in a bit of a predicament.
« on: November 21, 2013, 01:18:08 AM »
TL;DR New pizza business, we don't know what we're doing wrong with the dough and none of us have worked with pizza before. We open on Friday, been practicing all week and I'm looking for advice from you wonderful people that could possibly  help me and help my team become better pizza makers!

A family friend decided to put me in charge of his pizza shop. I recently learned about myself that I'm great with people...sometimes. We had our grand opening last week. All of the staff are friends of the owner, one man speaks Arabic and little to no English. He is the one who thinks he knows most about making pizza (he doesn't). The other guy is a young guy around my age who speaks both English and Arabic. I talk to him the most and ask him to do things to help me out. We don't know much and our first day was a disaster. We were behind 5-7 pizzas and had people waiting 1 hour for 1 pizza. We had to close for the week to reorganize and get our heads in the game.

Now, lets get to the problem! Last week, we were using some flour that didn't seem to cook right. We decided to close. I'm trying to run this shop as professional as possible but NONE of us really know what we're doing. We barely know how to cook the wings. I did a pretty decent job today practicing on our hot wings. We can barely make garlic bread, and our pizza isn't cooking right. So, after the grand opening, we decided to close for a week due to 'remodeling' aka GETTING OUR STUFF TOGETHER... I urged the owner to stay closed for the full week because I'd rather send out good pizzas than bad...

We're using High Gluten flour for our pizzas. We'd mix them with the ingredients that I'll share in a sec, then we'd let it sit for 15-20 minutes to rise, after that, we'd either cook the pizza or put oil on it and store it in our fridge for the next day.

The ingredients we use are:

10 LBS High Gluten flour
We add the flour to our mixer

3 Tablespoons of Salt and Sugar
We add the salt and sugar to the flour and begin mixing for a few minutes

Mix 1 Tablespoon of Yeast (not fresh) in half cup warm water
We stir the yeast until it is dissolved in the water and wait for it to active (water foams at the top)

After the yeast activates and sits, we add it to the mixer
We slowly poor the yeast to the side of the mixing bowl until the cup is empty

We add 4 cups of cold water and 2 oz oil
We pour the cups of cold water in very slowly for around 5-10 minutes and once the dough starts to form we add 2 ounces of oil.

Once the dough starts to look good we add 2 more ounces of oil

--The dough finishes mixing after around 15-25 minutes and we set it on a table that we add oil to lay the dough on. We cover the dough in plastic and let it rise for about 10-15 minutes and cut it to size.

Somewhere through that process, we are doing something wrong. We did this yesterday and our dough seemed to come out with lots of air. As we were pushing it down we kept hearing pops (almost like farting sounds) and decided to roll them out instead hoping to get out all the air. We'd shape it to size and use the pinch roller (spiky little roller thing) to keep it from bubbling while we cook. Added the ingredients and let it sit in our oven.

The heat for our oven was at about 560-570 today. It took around 7-10 minutes to cook and it came out nice...on the outside.
We tasted the pizza and noticed air holes in the crust of the pizza...

If anyone has ANY idea on what we're doing wrong please help me out. We open this Friday and I'm just stressed because I want this to succeed!

Also, if you have any advice on spreading/rolling pizza dough to size (we have a 20" pizza special for $10.99) I'd appreciate it greatly. We're way too slow at spreading. I didn't know where else to go for advice and you're all my last hope!

(P.S - I  love this spell check feature!)
« Last Edit: November 21, 2013, 03:47:39 AM by PizzaGuy209 »


Offline scott123

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Re: New to pizza making and I might be in a bit of a predicament.
« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2013, 01:51:18 AM »
BJ, welcome to the forum.

Different styles of pizza require different ingredients, formulas and approaches. Unless you can tell us what style of pizza you're attempting to make, it will be difficult for us to help you.  I'd like to say that I can figure out the style of pizza you're striving for just by looking at your recipe, but, I have to admit, the ratios don't seem to resemble any style of pizza I've ever seen.

I don't know much about cracker crusts, though. Is that what you're trying to make?

Are you attempting to pattern your pizza after a particular pizzeria or chain?  If you don't have a particular place in mind, then you might want to familiarize yourself with the styles in this article:

http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives/2008/01/a-list-of-regional-pizza-styles.html

This list is far from conclusive, but it might allow you to describe your goals a bit better, and, once we get a clearer sense of those, we'll be in a much better position to help.

Offline PizzaGuy209

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Re: New to pizza making and I might be in a bit of a predicament.
« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2013, 02:00:17 AM »
It's funny you asked. A lady asked me that same question when we first opened and I had NO clue what to say... I just went with New York style because of how thin our pizzas were. The owner looks like he doesn't know what hes doing, neither do we, which is why I decided to step up to the plate, learn pizza, and take control of things.

I don't really know my styles and I know I should study them. Since we want a decent sized crust with not too much fluff in the pizza itself, I'd have to say California Style judging from the link you provided? We're located in a small town and I'm almost positive we're the only pizza shop in town, serving 20" pizzas at a low low price. Everyone offering advice (the owner and friends / family) never worked with pizza as a passion/career which is what mainly drove me to the internet.

Edit, Also, thank you for the warm welcome! Please try and be patient with my ignorance to pizza styles and such, I really feel like im the only staff member trying to learn to better the shop.

Offline scott123

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Re: New to pizza making and I might be in a bit of a predicament.
« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2013, 02:30:21 AM »
Okay, I think we're making headway.

California Style, btw, is typically a NY Style crust with highly creative toppings.

Is this too much fluff, too little, or just right? (photo courtesy Norma)

Offline PizzaGuy209

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Re: New to pizza making and I might be in a bit of a predicament.
« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2013, 02:33:06 AM »
 :drool: That looks perfect!

Mind if I ask about the ratios? What do you see wrong?

Offline scott123

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Re: New to pizza making and I might be in a bit of a predicament.
« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2013, 03:01:16 AM »
Alright, where do we start?  :)

That's NY style pizza.  It's relatively thin, with a puffy chewy (sometimes crispy) rim.  If that's what you're striving for, you might want to start looking through the NY style sub forum here.

Your recipe is way off for this kind of pizza, but, before we go there, I think it's important to cover a few basic principles.

First, the gas in pizza dough, for this style of dough, is a good thing. It makes the puffiness that you see in the photo.  As you form the skin, you don't want to press out all the air, dock it (spikey roller thing) or use a rolling pin.  The goal is to keep as much gas as possible inside the dough as you form it.

Secondly, you may already know how to do this, but it wouldn't hurt to make sure we're on the same page.  This is a pretty good video for the basic steps to make dough:

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zywqmcc9n-c" target="_blank" class="aeva_link bbc_link new_win">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zywqmcc9n-c</a>


Don't get too caught up in the order of the ingredients, just be mindful of the mixing/kneading, the scaling (weighing) of the dough, the formation of the dough balls and the placement of the balls into proofing containers to ferment. 

Here are two decent videos on stretching pizza dough:

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjYqw1CLZsA" target="_blank" class="aeva_link bbc_link new_win">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjYqw1CLZsA</a>

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbkfDqA8yKg" target="_blank" class="aeva_link bbc_link new_win">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbkfDqA8yKg</a>


Both these videos cover techniques/equipment that you won't need for NY style pizza.  Focus on the initial finger press down, rim formation, edge stretch and knuckle stretch. Ignore everything else- especially the rolling pin and screen instructions.

NY style pizza is traditionally made by stretching the skin, placing it on a floured wooden peel, topped and then launched into a deck pizza oven.

Speaking of which, can you tell us something about the oven you're using? Do you happen to know the brand/model?

Also, do you know what brand of flour you're using?  That will play a role when we get into formulation.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2013, 03:06:25 AM by scott123 »

Offline PizzaGuy209

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Re: New to pizza making and I might be in a bit of a predicament.
« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2013, 03:12:55 AM »
Going to study those videos! Thanks for sharing

The oven we use is exactly like the one I attached, 4 deck blodgett gas oven


The brand of flour I believe we use is ADM Regal High Gluten Flour (Not 100% sure)

Offline scott123

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Re: New to pizza making and I might be in a bit of a predicament.
« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2013, 03:25:19 AM »
Blodgetts aren't bad ovens. Some models are better than others, but that's a conversation for another day.  When you get chance, find out the model number. It should be printed somewhere on the oven.

If you're using ADM Regal, at 14.2% protein, that's way too strong, in my opinion.

I'm curious, the picture you're painting is that you're one of a few people involved.  Are you in a position to walk into the restaurant and say "Okay, we're doing this, this and this, and we're switching to this flour?"

If your distributor has access to Regal, perhaps they can obtain ADM Commander.  That's a much better protein level for pizza.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2013, 04:05:37 AM by scott123 »

Offline PizzaGuy209

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Re: New to pizza making and I might be in a bit of a predicament.
« Reply #8 on: November 21, 2013, 03:40:24 AM »
Yes, we've already switched from one flour to this high gluten flour, I'll check tomorrow what flour we are using now because I'm not 100% sure on the brand/name.
The older flour we used (forgot the name), left the crust white when we finished cooking. The flour we're using now, the crust is actually turning a golden brown color.  I try to keep the oven at 550-570. I'm trying to find the right recipe just to get things going and have a steady flow of dough coming in that's consistent. 10 lb flour is what we usually use per batch. I basically want to go in tomorrow and try maybe a 5 lb batch with a new recipe from someone who knows pizza.

I feel bad for the owner honestly, we're the only pizza place in town, the rest of the staff seem to just work for pay so they just do what he tells them(and he knows nothing about pizza), and our equipment is old. The owner has a restaurant that's doing pretty well so he wanted me to run this pizza place while hes away at the other shop. Its hard, the 2 other employees are cousins and I speak little Arabic. They usually huddle up and work on their pizzas while I work on my own on another table trying to learn new ways to hand stretch instead of roll, which is how they prefer. I was told to roll the dough out and hand stretch afterwards. I need to work on forming my dough balls too...  :pizza:

He rushed everything, we have no soda and the staff doesn't really know how to make wings or bread sticks. I told him that he should have waited a month or a few weeks so we can at least learn and actually fix up the place and have everything we need. Opened for 2 days last week, closed for maybe 4 days and we're opening this Friday now.. He feels rushed because he already sent out flyer's which had a grand opening date that was on November 15th...


Edit: Also, thank you for taking the time to post here Scott!
« Last Edit: November 21, 2013, 03:46:49 AM by PizzaGuy209 »

Offline scott123

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Re: New to pizza making and I might be in a bit of a predicament.
« Reply #9 on: November 21, 2013, 04:30:26 AM »
Alright, it sounds like time is of the essence.  Typically, for people opening restaurants that have never made pizza before, I recommend a year to learn.  I've seen incredibly motivated people do some amazing things, though, in a month.  But this was focusing on pizza pretty much 24/7.

In all honesty, I think you have a few more basic concepts to grasp before you can master dough, but, if you want to jump in and start making something, it can't be worse than what you're making.

There are a lot of good NY style recipes on the forum, and most are very similar.  I have one that's geared a bit more towards beginning pizzamakers:

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,27591.msg279395.html#msg279395

Bear in mind that the recipe is a very small aspect to making great pizza.  The oven, and the manner in which you utilize the oven, is a critical component, as is the flour.  My recipe is geared towards a specific protein level, so if you're using regal, it won't work well, but, like I said, if you want to jump in and get your feet wet, it can't hurt.

It is a 48 hour dough.  The best tasting pizza comes from dough that's fermented longer than a day. Part of the responsibilities of running a pizzeria is gauging the demand for dough so that you can make enough in advance and not run out. This is especially difficult when you're not really selling any pizza right now, but, as you make good pies, and the people start coming, you'll be in a much better position to gauge demand.

Also, the formula is for one 16" pie.  You can make it as is, or you can scale it up using the dough calculator.  It's critical that you start working in percentages and the dough calculator is very helpful in that regard.  The link is in my recipe.

Out of everything you can learn here, I think the most important concept for you to quickly grasp is that great/profitable pizza is not easy to make.  A lot of people join the forum in hopes of opening shop with the assumption that pizza is easy and it's just about finding a good recipe. And that a good recipe, when followed to a 'T,' will always yield fantastic results. This is as far as you can get from the truth.  This is a process. I applaud your passion and your willingness to learn, but you're only scraping the surface here and have a LOT of work to do. I hope you're ready.


Offline PizzaGuy209

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Re: New to pizza making and I might be in a bit of a predicament.
« Reply #10 on: November 21, 2013, 04:40:43 AM »
^^^ I'm willing to work as hard as that job allows me to. If they feel like they're fine where they are in a month or two then I'll settle and work for pay instead of passion(Obviously coming back here to better myself as a pizza maker). I really enjoy working with dough now and love the responsibility for some reason. I'm excited and nervous.

I'd like to thank you for all of your advice and maybe continue this conversation tomorrow.

From what I recall, you wanted the Model Number of the oven, the name/brand of the flour? If there's anything else just post here and I'll check when I wake up!

Again, Thank you so much!

We usually let the dough sit in the fridge over night and after watching a few of your videos I realized that a few air bubbles are okay, the reason I complained about that is because when stretching the dough, there'd be random thin patches of dough that tear super easily, formed from a bubble.

Offline waltertore

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Re: New to pizza making and I might be in a bit of a predicament.
« Reply #11 on: November 21, 2013, 07:19:44 AM »
Scott is a great resource and I am glad you found him.  The ovens are low powered most likely 85,000 btu's or less.  Do you have one burner per stone or one burner per entire oven?  What does the temp go on your thermostat?  I admire your determination and would like to suggest you find a consultant in your area to help you get things rolling.  Making a few pies here and there will not translate to keeping up with everything once you open your doors.  Getting hit with 30 or more orders in a very short time may easily happen being a new place and people wanting to check you out.  If you blow it, it may be tough to get people back.  Dough management, oven knowledge are  a couple of things that are going to be key to making a mess or success.   Walter
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Online norma427

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Re: New to pizza making and I might be in a bit of a predicament.
« Reply #12 on: November 21, 2013, 08:00:26 AM »
BJ,

I agree with Walter and learning in a matter of days is going to be very hard if you are hit with a lot of orders.  I started out like you, but that was not the best way to go.  I am sure Scott and others will help you more.

I have been having good luck using the “hens egg test”.  If you start at Peter's post at Reply 671 http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,18407.msg279616.html#msg279616  you can see the video.  If you read the next few pages you can see what my pizzas look like and about what temperatures my final doughs are and what other methods I use.  I am only a one day a week pizza business.  I cold ferment for about a day. 

My dough formula is this right now.

Flour All Trumps and Occident blend 80% to 20%.
61 % hydration
.45% IDY depending on the weather (might need a little more)
1.75% Morton Kosher salt
.80% sugar
1% Pomace olive oil

1.5 bowl residue compensation
TF 0.80

I have a Baker's Pride counter-top oven and bake between 525-540 degrees F.  I mix in a 20 qt. Hobart on speed one only.

Do you have a scale and know about warm up time for your dough balls?  Like Walter posted dough management is important.  Working in Baker's percents will also give you better results.

Norma
Always working and looking for new information!

Offline scott123

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Re: New to pizza making and I might be in a bit of a predicament.
« Reply #13 on: November 21, 2013, 02:10:53 PM »
BJ, it is not hyperbole to say that this forum contains some of the best pizza makers in the world.  Beyond being virtuosos at their craft, unlike your typical tight-lipped distrustful pizzeria owner, they're unbelievably generous with their wealth of knowledge.  Your decision to join the forum was/is a momentous one.  Two days ago, to be brutally honest, you were making a pizza that I'm not entirely certain was even edible, and now you have all the information you need to walk out of the darkness and into the light.

But, as I said, it's going to take time. You need to sit down with the owner and have a serious talk.  Impress upon him that even though you still don't have much of a clue how to make pizza, you've managed to track down THE critical resource that gives you a path towards a clue- that you've found expert advise that will allow you to produce something truly competitive, something truly profitable, but you're not going to be able to assimilate the information overnight.

In other words, you've got to buy at least another week before you open.

I google mapped 'pizza modesto,' and downtown Modesto is infested with pizzerias.  I count at least 60.  It sounds like you're in a less populated neighboring town, but I highly doubt that you're the only pizzeria.  A 20" pizza for around 10 bucks is a fantastic marketing idea, but if you're going to compete with the chains (and I know you have chains nearby), you've got to make a pizza that's better than theirs. And, right now, you aren't.

As Walter pointed out, first impressions in the restaurant business are critical.  People's first taste of your product is going to stick with them, and, if it's not up to par, it's going to be incredibly hard to bring them back for a second taste. It's way better to have people shaking their heads about grand opening deadlines that are promised but not met rather than shaking their heads over the quality of the pizza.

A week without opening will cost the owner more money, but, if he puts out bad pizza on the opening day, even incredibly cheap bad pizza, he'll lose far more.

With this kind of urgency, as Walter mentioned, looking into a consultant might not be a bad idea. The information you need for world class pizza is all here, but it can take quite a few hours to read through.  The right consultant can accelerate the learning process and get you farther in a few days than you could on your own.  Again, though, this is a conversation that you'd need to have with the owner.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2013, 02:46:50 PM by scott123 »

Offline waltertore

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Re: New to pizza making and I might be in a bit of a predicament.
« Reply #14 on: November 21, 2013, 03:14:00 PM »
You should fly out Norma and or Scott- that would dial your pies in to perfection and I am serious :)  I have never tried Norma's pies but they sure look good.  I was raised in the NYC/NJ pizza world and know my pies and they really know their dough :)  I make a dough that is higher hydration than Norma's and no oil/sugar.  There are so many options out there depending on the product you are after.  Making bad pizza is easy but making good pizza is easier once you know the ins and outs.  Much success on our journey. Walter
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http://www.newarkadvocate.com/article/20140124/NEWS01/301240031/Bakery-run-by-students-disabilities-earns-pizza-profile

Spontobeat- the spontaneous music concept I have created and how I spontaneously live my life   http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=157137 200 of my most current songs http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=157137&content=widgets

Offline PizzaGuy209

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Re: New to pizza making and I might be in a bit of a predicament.
« Reply #15 on: November 21, 2013, 03:55:39 PM »
Thank you all for the advice, I'll be checking in here every day.

Yesterday we made some dough with the recipe posted at the top of the page.
Today I go in to check how the dough handled and I hope it didn't expand like crazy like all the other ones.


Few questions and concerns:

I spread some oil on the dough balls and wrapped them in plastic wrap to store in our fridge.
I also wanted to add that we're using around 34 ounces of dough for 1 20" pizza. I was thinking last night maybe that's why they're so hard to roll? Too much dough?

Do we use too much yeast for 10 lbs of flour? (1 tblsp of yeast)

say we were using the same recipe we're using now, what ratios would you change?
« Last Edit: November 21, 2013, 04:15:35 PM by PizzaGuy209 »

Offline waltertore

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Re: New to pizza making and I might be in a bit of a predicament.
« Reply #16 on: November 21, 2013, 05:24:28 PM »
34oz for a 20" pizza is going to, for me at least, way too thick.  I use a 20 oz doughball for a 19-20" pie.  It is all what you want in a pizza.  What I consider perfect someone else will think not.  I make the pizza I enjoy.  If people don't like it they can go somewhere else to buy it.  What kind of cheese(s), how much cheese(s), what sort of sauce, how much sauce, what toppings and how much...........  There are a lot of variables.  Your crust thickness could handle a ton of toppings.  A thin crust like Norma's will not.   I would give Norma's recipe a go and see what  you think.  Here is a few pictures of our pies.  Walter
« Last Edit: November 21, 2013, 05:52:23 PM by waltertore »
The Smiling With Hope Bakery- A bakery with a purpose
http://www.newarkadvocate.com/article/20140124/NEWS01/301240031/Bakery-run-by-students-disabilities-earns-pizza-profile

Spontobeat- the spontaneous music concept I have created and how I spontaneously live my life   http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=157137 200 of my most current songs http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=157137&content=widgets

Offline waltertore

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Re: New to pizza making and I might be in a bit of a predicament.
« Reply #17 on: November 21, 2013, 05:33:04 PM »
here is the recipe I would use with your ingredients minus the sugar. I never have used sugar in my dough and am not familiar with proper amounts.  I also don't use oil but have in past so know a bit about it.  The rest of the recipe, minus the sugar and oil, produces the pies you see in the photos above. 

Walter

for 15- 20oz doughballs


Flour - 11.25 lbs
Water - 7 lbs
IDY - 1.5 tbsp
Salt- 1/3 cups
Oil -  4 tbl
« Last Edit: November 21, 2013, 05:41:30 PM by waltertore »
The Smiling With Hope Bakery- A bakery with a purpose
http://www.newarkadvocate.com/article/20140124/NEWS01/301240031/Bakery-run-by-students-disabilities-earns-pizza-profile

Spontobeat- the spontaneous music concept I have created and how I spontaneously live my life   http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=157137 200 of my most current songs http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=157137&content=widgets

Offline PizzaGuy209

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Re: New to pizza making and I might be in a bit of a predicament.
« Reply #18 on: November 21, 2013, 05:57:16 PM »
I just talked to the owner,. There's a bit of a language barrier so if you guys know which flour hes talking about then feel free to fill me in. I was telling him i read something about 00 flour and he said he talked to Sysco Foods and they told him that the best pizza flour is Golden High Gluten.

Also, do you guys use a sheet when putting the pizza in the oven or do you just put it in without a sheet?
« Last Edit: November 21, 2013, 05:59:26 PM by PizzaGuy209 »

Offline waltertore

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Re: New to pizza making and I might be in a bit of a predicament.
« Reply #19 on: November 21, 2013, 06:04:26 PM »
Your ovens look like 981's.  They are not a very good pizza oven IMO.  there is only one burner that heats both decks.  It is around 50,000 btu's per oven.  Does the thermostat go to 500?   00 flour will not be good for deck oven pizza.  That is used for traditional WFO neopolitan pies.  I would use GM All Trumps, GM full Strength, Pendelton power.   These are your best choices IMO.  I lived for 15 years in CA and couldn't get GM bromated flours but did ok with the Pendelton.  I don't know what you mean by a sheet?  We hand toss, dust the peel, put the skin on it, top it, and slide it direct to the stones.  Again, like I said there are a lot of ways to make pizza.  Many people cook pies in pans/screens.  For me all dough, pizza, bread, bagels, has to cook direct on stone for the right texture.  Walter

below is a picture of our stack of blodgett 1000 ovens.  They have 120,000 btus per deck and can do 4-18-20" or 6-16" (pictured).   The recovery time and even heating of these ovens is far superior to what you have. 
« Last Edit: November 21, 2013, 06:11:45 PM by waltertore »
The Smiling With Hope Bakery- A bakery with a purpose
http://www.newarkadvocate.com/article/20140124/NEWS01/301240031/Bakery-run-by-students-disabilities-earns-pizza-profile

Spontobeat- the spontaneous music concept I have created and how I spontaneously live my life   http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=157137 200 of my most current songs http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=157137&content=widgets