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Offline mausta

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alternate to pizza stones
« on: October 25, 2006, 04:43:54 PM »
Hello forum,
I have used this forum several times and have experimented with Tom Lehmann's New York style pizza dough and have had good success.  Recently I have made the Reversed Engineered Patsy's recipe.

My thread is concerning the quest for the ideal home oven solution to emulate the brick oven.  I have used a standard pizza stone for years with moderate success. 
I was turned on to the idea of using non-glazed Quarry Tiles instead of a pizza stone.  They are standard red-colored 6"x6" tiles.  I purchased mine at Home Depot for about 40 cents a piece, like I said they are non-glazed tiles.
In my standard oven I can fit 3 tiles wide and 2 tiles deep which gives me a 12" x 18" surface.  By cutting 3 tiles in half  I could squeeze another 3 inches out of the depth (giving me a 15" x 18" surface) , though I haven't done so.
Anyway I have been making my pizzas rectangular due to this dimension.  I know that will bristle some round pie purests, but oh well.
So I place the tiles on the lowest rack of the oven and turn it up to the max. 550 degrees for about an hour prior to cooking time.
Another thing that I do which is somewhat unconventional is this:
I roll/stretch/toss my dough and then I open the oven, pull out the rack and I stretch/place the dough onto the hot tile surface, I have a few seconds to pick up the corners and stretch them further (if neccessary). 
I let the dough cook for about 2 minutes and then I remove it from the oven.
I then dress the pizza dough with sauce, whatever toppings and some fresh mozzarella.  Back into the oven.  When the bottom of the pizza is starting to get nice and brown/with some pleasant charring, I turn the oven off and turn it back on to the broiler setting.  This allows the top of the pizza to get some nice direct heat , some brown and char on the top edges of the crust, and from here on out I stand attention waiting until the cheese starts to bubble and slightly brown.
Overall I have had great success with this method and the tiles seem to do an excellent job of browning/charring the pizza.  The advantage (especially if you cut 3 tiles in half to extend the surface depth to 15") is that your surface is larger than the standard pizza stone.
My reasons for cooking the dough by itself for 1-2 minutes is that to me it is easier to get the pizza onto the cooking surface this way.  Using a pizza peal or whatever it is called is somewhat difficult when you are trying to get it land just right on such a small surface (much like landing a jet on an aircraft carrier).  It also cooks the top of the dough just enough to give it some resistance to the moisture of the sauce.  I like the method, it's worth trying. Getting the loaded pizza onto the cooking surface is a breeze when the dough is pre-cooked in this manner.
Either way I find the quarry tiles to be a superior surface over the standard pizza stone.  Larger surface, better heat conduction which means better browning/charring.
I just butt the tiles right next to each other, when I am done and the tiles have cooled I take them out, and stack them up on a shelf.


Offline mausta

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Re: alternate to pizza stones
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2006, 04:55:06 PM »
Again, my cooking method is my personal choice (2 minute pre-cook of the dough), the essence of my thread was to share with all you my experience with the unglazed Quarry tiles and how they have browned/charred my pizza crusts much better than the standard pizza stones.

Offline pizzaJoe

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Re: alternate to pizza stones
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2006, 11:51:43 AM »
Hello forum,
I have used this forum several times and have experimented with Tom Lehmann's New York style pizza dough and have had good success.  Recently I have made the Reversed Engineered Patsy's recipe.

My thread is concerning the quest for the ideal home oven solution to emulate the brick oven.  I have used a standard pizza stone for years with moderate success. 
I was turned on to the idea of using non-glazed Quarry Tiles instead of a pizza stone.  They are standard red-colored 6"x6" tiles.  I purchased mine at Home Depot for about 40 cents a piece, like I said they are non-glazed tiles.
In my standard oven I can fit 3 tiles wide and 2 tiles deep which gives me a 12" x 18" surface.  By cutting 3 tiles in half  I could squeeze another 3 inches out of the depth (giving me a 15" x 18" surface) , though I haven't done so.
Anyway I have been making my pizzas rectangular due to this dimension.  I know that will bristle some round pie purests, but oh well.
So I place the tiles on the lowest rack of the oven and turn it up to the max. 550 degrees for about an hour prior to cooking time.
Another thing that I do which is somewhat unconventional is this:
I roll/stretch/toss my dough and then I open the oven, pull out the rack and I stretch/place the dough onto the hot tile surface, I have a few seconds to pick up the corners and stretch them further (if neccessary). 
I let the dough cook for about 2 minutes and then I remove it from the oven.
I then dress the pizza dough with sauce, whatever toppings and some fresh mozzarella.  Back into the oven.  When the bottom of the pizza is starting to get nice and brown/with some pleasant charring, I turn the oven off and turn it back on to the broiler setting.  This allows the top of the pizza to get some nice direct heat , some brown and char on the top edges of the crust, and from here on out I stand attention waiting until the cheese starts to bubble and slightly brown.
Overall I have had great success with this method and the tiles seem to do an excellent job of browning/charring the pizza.  The advantage (especially if you cut 3 tiles in half to extend the surface depth to 15") is that your surface is larger than the standard pizza stone.
My reasons for cooking the dough by itself for 1-2 minutes is that to me it is easier to get the pizza onto the cooking surface this way.  Using a pizza peal or whatever it is called is somewhat difficult when you are trying to get it land just right on such a small surface (much like landing a jet on an aircraft carrier).  It also cooks the top of the dough just enough to give it some resistance to the moisture of the sauce.  I like the method, it's worth trying. Getting the loaded pizza onto the cooking surface is a breeze when the dough is pre-cooked in this manner.
Either way I find the quarry tiles to be a superior surface over the standard pizza stone.  Larger surface, better heat conduction which means better browning/charring.
I just butt the tiles right next to each other, when I am done and the tiles have cooled I take them out, and stack them up on a shelf.
Hi,

I think there was a thread on here where people had pics of their ovens laden with unglazed tiles.  I wish I could find it now.  I'm still a noob so I'm not so good at searching.   :-[

However, to add to your point, I almost went the tile route till I happened to notice that my (Wolf) oven was exactly two rectangular pizza stones wide.  I ended up buying an additional 3 stones (all the same thickness!).  I have two on the bottom rack and two on the upper most rack.  Actually I have three on the upper rack because I had an old thin stone and thought it couldn't hurt to get more heat from above.  I rotate the stones around to wear level.

At first I was afraid I wouldn't be able to get my pizza in the oven without burning my arms but as it turns out I have lots of space.  I love it!  When I slide a pizza in the oven I feel like I'm landing a fly on an aircraft carrier I have so much room!   I have two wooden peels so, if I'm crunched for cook time, I can actually get two 10-12" pies in the oven at once.  This is great for pizza parties.

The only issue I've encountered is that you really need 1+ hour of pre-heat time to get the oven up to temp well.

Tonight's pizza night.  I'll try to take a pic of my oven and post it up.
PizzaJoe

Offline vitus

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Re: alternate to pizza stones
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2006, 12:56:46 PM »
PizzaJoe (and all others),

Have you experienced any problems with having two stones side by side?
I have thought about two stones myself, but I've been afraid that the unavoidable yet short distance between the stones would be a problem (some of the dough going down the crack, therefore the pizza getting "glued" to the stones etc...).

Offline mivler

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Re: alternate to pizza stones
« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2006, 01:17:34 PM »
I would think there is a potential problem with clearance. You need to make sure the heat can get above the tile. You don't want to end with very hot tiles and an oven temperature that is not hot enough.

Michael

Offline pizzaJoe

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Re: alternate to pizza stones
« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2006, 01:35:39 PM »
PizzaJoe (and all others),

Have you experienced any problems with having two stones side by side?
I have thought about two stones myself, but I've been afraid that the unavoidable yet short distance between the stones would be a problem (some of the dough going down the crack, therefore the pizza getting "glued" to the stones etc...).


I've not had a problem with the crack between the two stones and I land my pie right on the crack (ouch!   :D)

I will say, the crack is really a minimal.  The two stones side-by-side *just* fit in the oven and actually rub against each other when inserted it's that tight.

Tonight I'll try to take a close-up pic so you can see just how close the stones are together as well as how tight the oven fit is.

Anyone know of the other thread I remember where people posted similar pics of their oven (most loaded with the unglazed red Dahl tiles)?
PizzaJoe

Offline pizzaJoe

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Re: alternate to pizza stones
« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2006, 01:40:07 PM »
I would think there is a potential problem with clearance. You need to make sure the heat can get above the tile. You don't want to end with very hot tiles and an oven temperature that is not hot enough.

Michael

I have clearance both above and below my lower/upper stones.  (I really need to post a pic!  Maybe over lunch...).  I even put my oven thermometer on top of the top stones so that I know the oven has come to full temp when I throw a pie in.

I think the change in the crust, although not overly dramatic, is very noticable.

Another random tip I'll throw in here that I haven't seen mentioned before.  I used to "slap" out my pizza on a large wooden cutting board and then put the un-topped crust on a cornmeal covered peel.  I don't like the taste of cornmean but I was never able to get a pizza off my peel without it.  Until...  I started flouring my peel and slapping the pizza out on that.  A few jiggles before I top to ensure no sticking and I get a crust in the oven every time now without any cornmeal!   :chef:
PizzaJoe

Offline pizzaJoe

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Re: alternate to pizza stones
« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2006, 04:22:23 PM »
Okay, here's two pics.  The oven itself is 36" wide.  The stones are just a bit over 29".  The close up of the junction between the two stones shows how tight it is.  Sorry for the messy stone, I had a calzone pop open on me!   :o
PizzaJoe

Offline vitus

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Re: alternate to pizza stones
« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2006, 05:42:29 PM »
Wow, great pics and explanation!  :D

Thanks a lot for posting that, pizzaJoe!  :chef:

Offline pizzaJoe

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Re: alternate to pizza stones
« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2006, 06:07:06 PM »
Wow, great pics and explanation!  :D

Thanks a lot for posting that, pizzaJoe!  :chef:
No, problem.  Really, I love this site and wanted to give a little back!   :)

The stones together work great.  It might be cheaper to go with tiles (at least for the "upper deck") as the stones are about $25-$30 each.  I had a gift certificate that helped lessen the blow though.

My family doesn't particularly care for a semi-burnt crust like I do so I still one day want to do my setup with the bottom stones on right on the oven floor.  It's a gas oven so there's no element in the way.  Ahhhh, the combinations are endless...   :chef:
PizzaJoe


Offline ernestrome

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Re: alternate to pizza stones
« Reply #10 on: October 27, 2006, 10:22:41 AM »
Aren't you losing a lot of heat buliding the pizza on the pulled out rack?

 I am always aiming to get the the pizza in and door closed again asap to maintain temp

Offline mausta

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Re: alternate to pizza stones
« Reply #11 on: October 27, 2006, 01:12:20 PM »
Hey everyone,

 I didn't realize someone made a square pizza stone.
My standard sized oven is a 30" model, which results in a oven rack size of about 22" wide and 15" deep.

Too bad nobody makes a 22" x 15" stone.  Curious what is the dimension of your square stone?

Offline pizzaJoe

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Re: alternate to pizza stones
« Reply #12 on: October 27, 2006, 01:27:26 PM »
Aren't you losing a lot of heat buliding the pizza on the pulled out rack?

 I am always aiming to get the the pizza in and door closed again asap to maintain temp
Hi,
I'm sorry if I misspoke but I build the pizza on my peel.  My oven is open-n-shut as fast as I can get it off the peel, usually only a few seconds.  Besides, one thing I have noticed now that I have 5 pizza stones in my oven is the snap-back time to full temp has been shortened, I believe because of the stones not losing much temp in the time it takes me to get the pizza in the oven.

Cheers!
PizzaJoe

Offline pizzaJoe

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Re: alternate to pizza stones
« Reply #13 on: October 27, 2006, 01:32:03 PM »
Hey everyone,

 I didn't realize someone made a square pizza stone.
My standard sized oven is a 30" model, which results in a oven rack size of about 22" wide and 15" deep.

Too bad nobody makes a 22" x 15" stone.  Curious what is the dimension of your square stone?

Square/rectangle stones are pretty common, google 'em.   :)  Four of the stones in my picture are rectangular.  I only know one dimension off hand and that's the width @ 14.5", not sure about the depth.  Thickness is somewhere around 1/2".   The one square stone (pictured on top of the two top stones) is junk.  I don't remember the dimensions of that stone.  It's too thin and small for the pizza sizes I go for but I thought it couldn't hurt up there on top.   Besides, my wife would prefer to collate all the stones in one oven and not have them all over the kitchen...   :P
PizzaJoe

Offline pizzaJoe

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Re: alternate to pizza stones
« Reply #14 on: October 27, 2006, 01:37:21 PM »
PizzaJoe (and all others),

Have you experienced any problems with having two stones side by side?
I have thought about two stones myself, but I've been afraid that the unavoidable yet short distance between the stones would be a problem (some of the dough going down the crack, therefore the pizza getting "glued" to the stones etc...).

Hi Vitus,

Last night, I made a few pies and I did notice some effect from the crack.  If I don't rotate the pizza early enough into its bake (usually I do a 10 minute bake for a ~12" cheese pie), a line will form on the bottom of the crust where it sat above the crack,  kinda like a "tan line".  If I rotate the pie early enough in the bake, the line does not form.  No effect on the outcome of the pizza but I thought I'd mention it.
PizzaJoe

Offline vitus

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Re: alternate to pizza stones
« Reply #15 on: October 27, 2006, 08:33:01 PM »
If I don't rotate the pizza early enough into its bake (usually I do a 10 minute bake for a ~12" cheese pie), a line will form on the bottom of the crust where it sat above the crack,  kinda like a "tan line".  If I rotate the pie early enough in the bake, the line does not form.
That sounds logical. Thanks for the info!  :)
I think that I'll go on and experiment with more than one stone now!  :chef:

Offline mivler

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Re: alternate to pizza stones
« Reply #16 on: October 27, 2006, 11:25:32 PM »
I'm going to be getting a new oven (with my new kitchen). Currently my oven is defective (in a good way) and gets to about 700 (I think). My new oven will most likely work properly and only get to about 550. I will need to worry about this type of configuration. Based on comments others had made I would have thought that the oven would not heat properly due to the  size of the stones. Does anyone have any comments about minimum clearance needed around the stone to get good oven heat above the stone? I will want to maximize the stone surface (as pizzajoe has).

Thanks,

Michael

Online Pete-zza

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Re: alternate to pizza stones
« Reply #17 on: October 27, 2006, 11:37:01 PM »
The FibraMent folks say to allow approximately a one inch opening on each side of the stone for proper air movement.

Peter

Offline mivler

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Re: alternate to pizza stones
« Reply #18 on: October 27, 2006, 11:45:21 PM »
Pete-zza
Thanks

pizzaJoe,
Do you have a convection oven? I'm trying to figure out how you are able to get by with so little clearance.

Thanks,

Michael

Offline pizzaJoe

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Re: alternate to pizza stones
« Reply #19 on: October 28, 2006, 01:19:09 PM »
To be honest, I don't know how I get by with so little clearance.   ???  My oven thermometer shows 500 on the nose if I preheat for 1+ hour before using.  There is about 1/2" clearance on each side of the stones so maybe that is enough?  My oven is Wolf gas oven.  It does have a convection fan but I do not use it when cooking my pizzas...  Hey, I like the results so I'm not questioning it!   ;D
PizzaJoe