I'm really enjoying following along with your WFO build. I can't wait to see the final pics. So far it looks stunning!
Would you care to share your process with the pies you've posted in terms of fire management, oven temps, bake times, dough formula. How has the learning curve been with fire management and oven temps? Does the floor get too hot to manage?
Thanks. I'm excited about seeing things progress and very excited to be able to actually visualize what the final build is going to look like. Look forward to posting some outdoor kitchen build progress photos as that launches here soon and, of course, the final photo shoot when things get to a steady-state, though I think we're still at least a couple months out on that if not 3-4 weather and holidays permitting.
Quite happy to share those. A few disclaimers to start with, though. While I'm a purist, I'm somewhat of a practical purist. I love the art of WFO cooking, but didn't want to suffer for the art, so I got a gas burner to get the ball rolling a little quicker. The gas lines have been roughed, but not connected, so I'm 100% wood at this point, though with a decent sized hole in the floor of my oven toward the back left for the gas burner when we install it. This affects my fire management a bit. Second, I've been tinkering with sourdough pizza dough for some time... and I gave up my former recipe (that I swore by) when I stumbled on Craig's. I immediately adopted it and started experimenting with it on my Big Green Egg (BGE) even though I was nowhere near the right temps on the dome to get a good finished product. It gave me some experience with how the dough handles and what to expect and that also likely impacted my curve for an edible first pie from the oven. Last, while new to WFO techniques, I've been cooking, baking, and BBQing for a good while and that likely translates to some impact on learning curve for WFO techniques differing slightly from other baking.
OK disclaimers out of the way, I can't take any credit for the dough recipe at all for anything posted to date with the exception of last night's pie that I shot while in mid-cook. Previous to last night, the dough recipe was Craig's recipe from "the Garage" to the letter with phenomenal success and 100% satisfaction from anyone who got to taste it. As Craig's tagline (and the recipe's time to completion) suggests, sometimes you just need a little quicker turn around or a dough that's more forgiving of low temperature retarding to allow for one big batch of dough balls for, say, three days of cooking. So I'm playing with some variations (sticking purely to Craig's ratios, but using a pre-ferment on various percentages of the total flour content to get from bulk to bake in a somewhat shorter period). Last night's dough balls (which there are 10 still in the regular refrigerator for tonight) were as follows:Total Recipe (includes levain and final dough additions):
- Caputo 00 Pizzeria Flour -- 100% (2,123g)
- Water -- 63% (1337.5g)
- Salt -- 2.5% (53.1g)
- Sourdough Starter -- 1% (21.2g)
Final Dough Recipe:
- Caputo 00 Pizzeria Flour -- 100% (424.6g)
- Water -- 100% (424.6g)
- Sourdough Starter -- 5% (21.2g)
- Caputo 00 Pizzeria Flour -- 100% (1698.4g)
- Water -- 53.75% (912.9g)
- Levain -- 51.25% (870.4g all of what came from the Levain Recipe above)
- Salt -- 3.13% (53.1g)
So basically you start by making the Levain, then mix the "final dough recipe" flour/water together to autolyse, then add all of the levain yield to that along with your salt, and finally bulk and ball. Following is the timing I used.LEVAIN:
- Combine flour, water, and starter and mix thoroughly.
- Cover and let ferment at 75F for 14-16 hours. (I then held in the normal refrigerator for about 14 more)
- Combine remaining flour and water in recipe (holding back the salt) into a bowl.
- Mix until incorporated and homogenous. It's OK if the dough is still shaggy.
- Cover and autolyse for 20-30 minutes.
- Add the salt and all the yield from the levain and mix until the dough is developed.
- Let ferment at 75F in bulk for 3.5 hours doing a stretch and fold roughly every ~45 minutes.
- Divide the dough into 285 gram pieces, shape into tight balls, and place in individual proofing pans sprayed lightly with olive oil.
Allow to relax for 1.5-2 hours at 75F. (my intention was to time this so as not to need to retard at this point, but I wound up retarding in the regular refrigerator for 4 hours at this point, then returning to the 75F temperature environment for 3 hours before stretching, dressing, and baking).
- The dough is ready for stretching, dressing, and baking.
Assuming 4% waste and 285g balls, 2,123g of flour yields 12 dough balls.
I was mostly pleased with the result, but I think it was slightly over-proofed. Looking at Craig's final dough balls and having done that recipe several times, I had more noticeable bubbles at the time when I baked than before. Similar to not using all those "Garage" dough balls and retarding overnight in the refrigerator to use again the next day. So I'm going to hone and refine to get the timing a little better. The flavor was outstanding, though. My intention is to play around with the amount of pre-ferment to get the some recipes that are suitable for faster "mixing to balling" timelines to compliment the excellent 48 hour process at the Garage.
As far as fire-management, my hands are somewhat tied right now. With the hole in the floor for the gas burner, I'm sticking to fire on the left side of the oven. with the cover in place to close the hole in the floor. I move the fire back and forth as needed to distribute where the heat goes once it hits the dome and even it out, but moving it to the right during cooking doesn't seem to make a ton of sense given the gas burner is fixed on the left. Maybe I'm limiting my view, though. I'd love to hear from others on what they think about fire management with the gas burner being fixed in place on the left-rear.
As far as learning curves for using the oven are concerned, I was delighted to find out that even on my first full firing of the oven I got very passable results on pizzas as well as pita bread, rustic sourdough loaves, and even some very decent focaccia. I still have a ton to learn on how the oven behaves and suspect that once the gas burner is in place, it will be far easier to learn about that behavior as it relates to the thermal properties. My first pizza cook I was about 850F on the floor and over 1100F on the dome (my IR gun shows over temp when it reads over 1100). The cooks were very close to 90 seconds, though I have learned that the iPhone does way too many things to be able to reliably (single handed anyway) get the clock started and shuttle pizzas in and out without any counters to help stage things. I'll post more about the thermal details and get more science in the mix once I get the counter space to be more scientific.
I'm quite happy with the size (given we entertain a good bit) and fully intend to use the oven to be a "community builder" where when we fire the oven we let the neighbors know so they can bring things to cook in it as well. Would also be open to learning from others in the Texas region that want to get together and share process and/or paths to successes.