I have been lurking on this forum for several years so I thought it was finally time to post my story. I moved from London to a small village in Wales about 5 years ago and then started to make pizza at home as I could no longer readily go out and buy them. Gradually I become more and more obsessed with my little hobby and I ended up making hundreds and hundreds of pizzas. Over the years I must have tried out pretty much every technique and ingredient combination mentioned on this forum. For the first 3 years I cooked my pizzas on firebricks placed under the grill (broiler in US). I would let them heat up for a couple of hours and they would get so hot that I managed to achieve cooking times of about 3 minutes which was pretty good (and I also charred the cupboards next to the grill which was not so good).
After a while it was time to move onto the next level so I purchased a two deck commercial electric pizza oven which went up to about 500C. Shortly after this I started to become ill whenever I looked at a VDU screen for any length of time so I had to give up my full time job as a software engineer. Thinking of what else I might be able to do I decided I might try and sell pizzas commercially since I could make quite a decent pie by this point. Once I had made the decision I started to work out all the bits and bobs that were need to transform my hobby into a commercial reality. I thought this would only take a couple of months but in the end it took a further 18 months before I was happy with the quality and consistency of the pizza. I launched my venture about 4 months ago and I now deliver 18" New York style pizzas to homes within my village 3 nights a week.
My pizzas are sort of based on NY brick oven style ones in that they are about 18" round, have a thin crisp crust, plenty of charring and big holes in the rim. However I do not use high gluten flour. They also taste better than any other pizza I have eaten (I know I am biased but a customer I delivered to last week, who has traveled extensively, said it was the best pizza they had eaten anywhere in the world, ever). I have also tried a few pizza places outside the UK e.g Da Michel (not bad) , Lombardis (bland, bland bland) and also the current best neopolitan ones in London such as Donna Margerita (Again bland) and Pomodoro Rosso (Last time I went I got a crisp dried out crust and tinned mushrooms). At this point in time I'm pretty sure that I make the best commercially available pizza anywhere in the UK.
OK finally the recipe. The main difference between this recipe and others on this forum is the use of a French type 55 flour. This is a low protein (11%) flour that I get from Shipton Mill in the UK. To my mind this produces the best tasting crust around (and I have tried out a lot of different flours). I also use yeast in my recipe instead of a sourdough as I much prefer the flavor.
2/3 French type 55 flour
1/3 Bread flour. Anything around 12-13% will do. The bread flour is mixed in for a crisper crust.
IDY In my recipe I use about 1/3 tsp for 3840 grams of flour.
Salt I use about 4 Tbl for 3840 grams of flour
The dough is then hand mixed only until all the flour is hydrated. This is pretty much a no knead dough. I have found this method works bests on wetter doughs.
I then leave the dough to bulk rise for about 20 hours at room temp. (well a bit below as I put it in my basement which is slightly cooler than the rest of the house). I have found that the amount the dough rises in this first stage is critical to the final product. You want a rise of about 60-70% for best results. If the rise is less than this you won't get good charring and if it is more the dough will rise to fast and you won't get a good hole structure. The dough is then balled up and left to rise for another 5-6 hours.
The pizzas are then cooked on screens in an electric deck oven for about 4 minutes at 400C (Small note: I have not had a wood oven pizza that tastes anything as good as my electric oven pizza - As Varasano says its all technique)
For the sauce I use pureed whole plum tomatoes which have been marinated overnight with some chopped shallots to get a really fresh taste.
So if anybody is passing through Hay-On-Wye or just wants to try the best pizza in the UK then let me know.
Finally thanks to everyone on this Forum for sharing and helping to get me to this stage.