Author Topic: Little Black Egg  (Read 351545 times)

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Offline Villa Roma

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Re: Little Black Egg
« Reply #20 on: August 08, 2007, 01:03:05 AM »
Quote from Rkos:
Watching your "GREAT" video it looks like your running the "egg" with the 4 hole top vent open - If that is correct what happens when you close the vent?


Rkos.....I initially made a "max smoke" test run with the LBE and it got up to 650 degrees. That was registered on the temp gauge before I installed the 8" stone in the lid and with the vent closed. Further experimentation revealed that the egg actually gets much hotter with the vent wide open. I'm sure it has to do with optimizing the air to fuel ratio.

I made 9 pizzas last time and I had to turn down the gas toward the end of the session because the temp had climbed above 700 degrees. That was at about half throttle! See the pic below of the bottom of pizza #9 at 700 degrees, as a reminder this pizza was 50% whole grains. When I make the Neapolitan pizza I'm going to start out at about 700 degrees and head north from there until I find the optimum temp.

I have a few ideas for improving the LBE and one is to install a 4" vent with a damper in it where the current 4 hole vent is. If you listen carefully during the video you can hear a distinct difference in the sound of the burner when I remove and replace the lid on the LBE, so I believe the egg is crying out for more airflow.

The second mod would be to rig up a rotating stone mechanism with either a crank handle or hook it up to a rotisserie motor. This would eliminate the need to open the grill and turn the pizza and should lower the cooking times as well as improve the quality of the pizzas.

I'm using propane (and propane accessories :-D) but I've toyed with the idea of using mapp gas as it burns much hotter. It's also more expensive but I could preheat with propane and then switch to mapp gas and crank it up a notch (sorry Emerill). Right now the propane seems to be more than adequate.

A water/steam injection mod sounds interesting also.

       Villa Roma
« Last Edit: August 08, 2007, 03:42:48 AM by Villa Roma »


Offline Villa Roma

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Re: Little Black Egg
« Reply #21 on: August 08, 2007, 02:30:59 AM »
Talking about Varasano, he hasn't posted since April, I hope he's still busy making lots of pies when he's
not busy. He is an inspiration to the group, I used to look forward to reading his posts



Jeff rocks! He's a great guy and is always willing to share his knowledge with everyone. I picked up a lot of good tips at his site. I heard a street rumor that he might be opening a resturant in the near future so if that's the case, I'm sure he's up to his elbows in alligators working out all the details.

The 3 sites I frequent for info and inspiration are this site, Jeffs site and the Forno Bravo site.

        Villa Roma
« Last Edit: August 09, 2007, 01:11:58 AM by Villa Roma »

Offline anthony2173

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Re: Little Black Egg
« Reply #22 on: August 11, 2007, 02:33:10 PM »
That's awesome!
If I spent this much time researching my investments I would be retired by now.

Offline Villa Roma

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Re: Little Black Egg
« Reply #23 on: August 12, 2007, 12:25:23 AM »
I made a batch of Neapolitan style pizza this weekend and cooked them at 700 to 750 degrees. As an experiment, I let the temp get up to 800+ but the pizza started to burn with this recipe at that temp. Check out the baseball pizza sports fans!

The recipe:

400 gm GM unbleached all purpose flour
400 gm GM Harvest King bread flour
528 gm cold water (66%)
1/2 cup rye starter
16 gm salt (2%)
pinch ascorbic acid (vitamin C)

I should have the video in a few days.

        Villa Roma
« Last Edit: August 15, 2007, 12:32:03 AM by Villa Roma »

Offline toddster63

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Re: Little Black Egg
« Reply #24 on: August 14, 2007, 11:05:30 PM »
Hey Villa Roma, thanks for the great new vids on YouTube of your Neapolitan pizza making--really great to see the Little Black Egg in further action. Between the KA spiral dough hook, and your propane hot as hell converted Weber, you really have me inspired.

When you had the stone up to 850F for that last pie--how high up did you have the Cajun cooker/propane turned to? How long of a pre-heat do you estimate it would take to reach these high temps? Do you have any idea how long 20 lbs. of propane would last when cooking at these higher temps?

Also, what was the bottom of the pie like at the 850F temperature? Any char, ala wood and coal ovens...?
« Last Edit: August 15, 2007, 12:51:18 AM by toddster63 »

Offline Villa Roma

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Re: Little Black Egg
« Reply #25 on: August 15, 2007, 12:38:57 AM »
For anyone that's interested, here's the links to a video of my first attempt at Neapolitan pizza using the LBE. I experimented with the temps at 690, 750 and 850 degrees. The first video is about 5 minutes and has an intro and the dough prep. The second video is about 3 minutes and is the cookoff of the pizzas. If for some reason the links don't work just do a search for "Little Black Egg Neapolitan" at YouTube.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b46UuQ4G4TE" target="_blank" class="aeva_link bbc_link new_win">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b46UuQ4G4TE</a>


<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1maPZLe_zo" target="_blank" class="aeva_link bbc_link new_win">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1maPZLe_zo</a>



      Villa Roma


« Last Edit: August 15, 2007, 02:00:07 AM by Villa Roma »

Offline Villa Roma

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Re: Little Black Egg
« Reply #26 on: August 15, 2007, 01:22:25 AM »
Hey Villa Roma, thanks for the great new vids on YouTube of your Neopolitian pizza making--really great to see the Little Black Egg in further action. Between the KA spiral dough hook, and your propane hot as hell converted Weber, you really have me inspired.

When you had the stone up to 850F for that last pie--how high up did you have the Cajun cooker/propane turned to? How long of a pre-heat do you estimate it would take to reach these high temps? Do you have any idea how long 20 lbs. of propane would last when cooking at these higher temps?

Also, what was the bottom of the pie like at the 850F temperature? Any char, ala wood and coal ovens...?

For the 850 degree pizza I had to lower the heat because the temp actually went up over 900 degrees during my test with the gas turned up on high. I cooked 8 pizzas and only showed 3 on the video so there's 5 pizzas not shown. So for 850 degrees I guess I would have to preheat for about 45 minutes and have the burner at about 75%.

I need to modify the vent on the LBEs to get more airflow, thus a more efficient burn. The current vent has four 7/8" holes which equals 2.4 square inches. I plan to cut a 4" vent hole which will yield 12.56 square inches. That's over 5X the airflow from the current configuration. This should allow the LBE to burn hotter on less fuel.

I usually use about 1 1/2 lbs of propane to cook 8 pizzas at 650 degrees. This batch was 8 pizzas but I didn't use any sugar or oil in the dough so I had to increase the temp to get the sub 3 minute pies. I used 3 lbs of propane for this last cookoff but I ran the temp up much higher than I normally would have. I found the best technique is to let the stone get to about 750 degrees and then put the pizza on the stone and increase the gas. Then when that pizza is done lower the gas and prep another pizza. When the next pizza is ready to be cooked I just repeat the cycle otherwise the stone gets too hot.

Here's two pictures of the bottom crust. The first one is 725 degrees and the second one is 800+. As you can see the second one got real toasty, aka burnt, but it was still good anyway. Charring=flavor! >:D

      Villa Roma
« Last Edit: August 16, 2007, 02:18:43 PM by Villa Roma »

Offline Boy Hits Car

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Little Black Egg II - Philadelphia Version
« Reply #27 on: August 15, 2007, 11:26:39 AM »
The Little Black Egg is spawning...found this one in my backyard.


Offline toddster63

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Re: Little Black Egg
« Reply #28 on: August 15, 2007, 11:30:40 AM »
Looks good, Boy Meets Car...! Did you cut out the bottom of the Weber same as Villa Roma has outlined and pictured? That's the only thing holding me back from making a LBE--I am such a klutz with projects that involve the drill and saw blades...

Offline Boy Hits Car

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Re: Little Black Egg
« Reply #29 on: August 15, 2007, 11:41:35 AM »
Looks good, Boy Meets Car...! Did you cut out the bottom of the Weber same as Villa Roma has outlined and pictured? That's the only thing holding me back from making a LBE--I am such a klutz with projects that involve the drill and saw blades...

I used a large salad bowl that measured about 11.75" in diameter, centered it around the bottom of the kettle and marked the circle with a black sharpie.  I then used my friend's roto-zip fitted with a metal cutting wheel and went around the circle twice really slow.  The first go around, I cut away the black enamel and the second go around cut through the metal.  It was perfectly level.  If you take your time and get someone to help, you should have no problem.  Drilling the holes in the lid was really easy;  just set your drill to low and let the drill bit eat away at the metal.

-Mike
« Last Edit: August 15, 2007, 06:47:38 PM by Boy Hits Car »


Offline Villa Roma

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Re: Little Black Egg II - Philadelphia Version
« Reply #30 on: August 15, 2007, 03:15:41 PM »
The Little Black Egg is spawning...found this one in my backyard.



Mike.....It's beautiful! Let us know how the pizzas turn out. When do you think you'll be making your first batch of pizza?

      Villa Roma

Offline Boy Hits Car

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Re: Little Black Egg II - Philadelphia Version
« Reply #31 on: August 15, 2007, 06:46:56 PM »
Mike.....It's beautiful! Let us know how the pizzas turn out. When do you think you'll be making your first batch of pizza?

      Villa Roma

I already tried my first batch...not so good.  I think it was my fault; I let the dough over ferment and die.  The first pizza burned to a crisp.  The second one charred perfectly on the bottom, but the top didn't brown as much as I would have liked.  I think the dead dough was the main culprit.  I'll be trying again on Saturday and I'm sure it will turn out much better.  Everything is identical to yours except for the dough formulation.  Any insights on that?  I'll be using KA bread flour and IDY.  Don't know if I should add sugar and oil for a 650+ temp.

- Mike

Offline toddster63

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Re: Little Black Egg
« Reply #32 on: August 15, 2007, 08:16:48 PM »
Wow, Mike, bummer that your inaugural pizza cook with your LBE was a wash. But it sounds like you may be right in that the over-fermentation didn't leave enough residual flour sugars for the top to brown... I'll be watching for your next batch--post PICS, huh?!

My two cents is that with these great high temps, leave the oil and sugar out. That's what's cool about Villa Roma's invention--these high temps that can produce a nice wafer layer of crunchy brown crust and at the same time leave the center top of the pie not overly done. It's the closest I have seen to how wood and coal ovens cook a pie, though granted it is different due to the heat only coming from below. But for under $200, and able to fit on the smallest of patios, I think it's a brilliant design. I've been fairly impressed with some of the other grilled pies posted around here (PFTaylor for example), but most of the better ones have been made on pricey infrared grills, which while capable of intense heat, are out of my budget.

I think the cornicione picture that Villa Roma posted previously in this thread is the real money shot--dynamite spring, not overly done bottom layer, and just barely melted cheese topping it all--this is what I am seeking for now.

I really am itching to set one of these LBE's up and then make a high, high hydration dough--68%-70%--that is fairly well kneaded, no oil, no sugar, topped with a few thick slices of fresh Mozz, and see how close the puppy can come to an elite NY crust, or even, God forbid, a Neapolitan...

Offline Boy Hits Car

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Re: Little Black Egg
« Reply #33 on: August 15, 2007, 09:37:25 PM »
Wow, Mike, bummer that your inaugural pizza cook with your LBE was a wash. But it sounds like you may be right in that the over-fermentation didn't leave enough residual flour sugars for the top to brown... I'll be watching for your next batch--post PICS, huh?!

My two cents is that with these great high temps, leave the oil and sugar out. That's what's cool about Villa Roma's invention--these high temps that can produce a nice wafer layer of crunchy brown crust and at the same time leave the center top of the pie not overly done. It's the closest I have seen to how wood and coal ovens cook a pie, though granted it is different due to the heat only coming from below. But for under $200, and able to fit on the smallest of patios, I think it's a brilliant design. I've been fairly impressed with some of the other grilled pies posted around here (PFTaylor for example), but most of the better ones have been made on pricey infrared grills, which while capable of intense heat, are out of my budget.

I think the cornicione picture that Villa Roma posted previously in this thread is the real money shot--dynamite spring, not overly done bottom layer, and just barely melted cheese topping it all--this is what I am seeking for now.

I really am itching to set one of these LBE's up and then make a high, high hydration dough--68%-70%--that is fairly well kneaded, no oil, no sugar, topped with a few thick slices of fresh Mozz, and see how close the puppy can come to an elite NY crust, or even, God forbid, a Neapolitan...


Toddster,

Thanks for the input.  I'm fairly certain that the over-fermentation was the problem.  Everything about my LBE is identical to Villa Roma's; including the 8" stone attached to the bottom of the lid.  My IR thermometer recorded over 600 degrees on the 8" stone only after 20 minutes of heating and the 16" stone read 680 after 30 minutes; so there should be plenty of heat at the top. The cheese melted quickly, much faster than it does in my home oven at 550 degrees.  I'll post a bunch of pics on Saturday.

Mike

Offline Y-TOWN

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Re: Little Black Egg
« Reply #34 on: August 16, 2007, 12:21:29 AM »
I purchased an 18" kettle grill at a super K-Mart for $25 on sale last weekend. It came with an attachment type bucket which bolts on to the bottom of the grill to hold the charcoal under the kettle - great thing about this grill was it had a factory made 10" hole in the bottom where you were to install the under-slung charcoal bucket. So no cutting was involved with my LBE.

Made my first pizza on it tonight and it was a disaster of sorts. I didn't have the burner hot enough and it took about 45 minutes for the stone to get to 550. I put the pie on the stone and it stuck. I was using corn meal instead of flower to slide the pie - next time I'll use the flour for sure and initially jack up the gas flow for 1/2 hour or so to get the stone into the 650* range.

Any advice would be appreciated.

Offline Villa Roma

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Re: Little Black Egg II - Philadelphia Version
« Reply #35 on: August 16, 2007, 02:08:48 AM »
I already tried my first batch...not so good.  I think it was my fault; I let the dough over ferment and die.  The first pizza burned to a crisp.  The second one charred perfectly on the bottom, but the top didn't brown as much as I would have liked.  I think the dead dough was the main culprit.  I'll be trying again on Saturday and I'm sure it will turn out much better.  Everything is identical to yours except for the dough formulation.  Any insights on that?  I'll be using KA bread flour and IDY.  Don't know if I should add sugar and oil for a 650+ temp.

- Mike

My first few batches of pizza on the LBE were not something worthy of mention but if you are persistant and willing to experiment, you'll soon earn the title of...."Egg Master".

Preheat and cook with the vent wide open. The LBE requires lots of air to support the high heat needed to cook pizza at 600+ degrees. Ensure the foil in the lid is not obstucting the vent. I'm going to enlarge the vent on my egg to get more airflow. Maybe this weekend.

If you could post the recipe for your dough, that would be a good starting point. If I use sugar and oil I limit both of them to 2% of the flour weight. Too much sugar will burn at high temps and too little or no sugar will take longer to cook or not brown very well at low temps. Sorry for stating the obvious.

I noticed a big difference in my last batch where I used no sugar or oil. I had to bump the temp up about 100 degrees to get the same level of browning and sub 3 minute pies but the flavor was extraordinary and the spring was much more than I expected.

I would suggest starting with a dough recipe with 66% hydration and 2% sugar, salt and oil. When you feel comfortable with that level, you can progress to higher temps and no sugar and oil. I don't use high gluten flour and have found that you can make great pizza even with just AP flour from the supermarket. My next batch is going to be 25% whole grains (10% rye, 15% WW), AP flour, water (66%), salt and starter. You can add a pinch of vitamin C to the dough to strengthen low gluten flour.

I don't like store bought yeast and only use starter for pizza. It is much more predictable and forgivable and is really easy to make and maintain. I made mine with just rye flour and pineapple juice. You can use regular white flour also. The pineapple juice creates a slightly acidic environment which prohibits the growth of bacteria until the yeast gets a chance to take hold. It takes about 4 days to get going and then you just feed it once a week and keep it in the fridge. You can search the web for more on this. A good place to start is: Breadtopia.com. Eric has some great videos there. A good alternative to starter is to make a preferment the night before with 100 grams each flour and water with a small pinch of yeast. Subtract the amount of flour and water from the recipe and press on.

Since your first pizza burned at 680 degrees I would lower the temp to about 600-625 and then when you put your first pizza on, turn the gas up a little. This will allow the bottom to brown nicely and also supply the added heat to cook the top of the pizza. Turn the gas down if you're not going to put another pizza on right away or the stone may get too hot. Again your going to have to experiment to find out what temps work best with the type of dough you're using. Take measurements with an IR thermometer before and after the pizza is cooked and you'll get a good idea of what temps you need to maintain.

Like any vented outdoor grill, the LBE does not like a breezy environment as this will scavenge the heat from the oven and result in an unevenly cooked pizza. I like to cook my pizza in the garage with the door open. I cook my pizza here on the back balcony and avoid cooking pizza on windy days.

Hope this helps and good luck.....Villa Roma
« Last Edit: August 16, 2007, 02:32:51 PM by Villa Roma »

Offline Villa Roma

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Re: Little Black Egg
« Reply #36 on: August 16, 2007, 02:19:01 AM »
I purchased an 18" kettle grill at a super K-Mart for $25 on sale last weekend. It came with an attachment type bucket which bolts on to the bottom of the grill to hold the charcoal under the kettle - great thing about this grill was it had a factory made 10" hole in the bottom where you were to install the under-slung charcoal bucket. So no cutting was involved with my LBE.

Made my first pizza on it tonight and it was a disaster of sorts. I didn't have the burner hot enough and it took about 45 minutes for the stone to get to 550. I put the pie on the stone and it stuck. I was using corn meal instead of flower to slide the pie - next time I'll use the flour for sure and initially jack up the gas flow for 1/2 hour or so to get the stone into the 650* range.

Any advice would be appreciated.

I've had good luck with rice flour. If you can't find rice flour, do what I do. Go to the cereal isle at the supermarket and buy a box of cream of rice cereal. It's somewhat course so I run it through my coffe grinder and mix it with an equal amount of regular white flour.

Don't give up on the LBE for cooking pizza. It takes a little bit of determination and experimentation to get it right. I've been there and I feel your pain!

        Villa Roma


Offline MTPIZZA

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Re: Little Black Egg
« Reply #37 on: August 16, 2007, 07:03:38 AM »
Villa Roma could you explain the use of rice flour in your doughs?? How does this make your pies?? crispier?? lighter?? I just thought sometimes people used it just for dusting the peal...please explain your discovery in adding it to the dough directly.. thanks !

Offline abatardi

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Re: Little Black Egg
« Reply #38 on: August 16, 2007, 11:44:23 AM »
Villa Roma could you explain the use of rice flour in your doughs?? How does this make your pies?? crispier?? lighter?? I just thought sometimes people used it just for dusting the peal...please explain your discovery in adding it to the dough directly.. thanks !

I think he's saying he's using it for dusting the peel also.

- aba
Make me a bicycle CLOWN!

Offline Villa Roma

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Re: Little Black Egg
« Reply #39 on: August 16, 2007, 01:21:02 PM »
That's correct, I use it for dusting the peel and flouring the dough balls before forming the pies. I've never tried it in the dough. Even after it is ground in the coffee mill it still is somewhat courser than flour so it works great for preventing the dough from sticking to the peel.

      Villa Roma
« Last Edit: August 16, 2007, 02:15:32 PM by Villa Roma »


 

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