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Author Topic: I want to make pizzas at an outdoor park BBQ.. is cooler storage feasible???  (Read 628 times)

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Offline mtx

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I recently got a portable gas-powered pizza oven (~900F) that I want to test out at an outdoor park BBQ event. I am planning to make 15-20 personal pizzas around 10-12" max. I have some limited breadmaking experience from making 40 sourdough boules during the pandemic which I am pretty comfortable with today but I will admit I don't know much about making pizza dough. I want to go straight for my personal fave Neapolitan style pizza too.... scary attempting to make pizza for so many people but I am hoping to learn, obsess, fail, and get my reps in within the next few weeks.

Can anyone recommend if it would be feasible to prepare 15-20 balls of pizza dough, unrefrigerated and sitting for 4-6 hours in a Coleman cooler, as I wait for lunch time to arrive so I can start forming the crust?? I assume I can make everything days before, throw it in freezer, then on day of (or 24 hours before) I can just throw it in the fridge to thaw. My concern is, what issues (if any) should I expect if I leave the balls in the cooler?? Will they overproof or underproof etc? Please advise!

Offline P K

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Try everything before the event, at your home. No amount of advice here can beat that.

That being said, neos in a portable ovens are extremely hard at the beginning. I'm on my 10th pizza and I'm on a scale 3 (1 being a newbie and 10 being an expert). I burnt my last pizza, just like that!!

If you are making sourdough pies then you want them to come to room temp (after overnight proofing in the fridge), say for 3 to 5 hours or more depending on the room temperature. So you technically don't need a cooler if you take the dough balls out of the fridge about 5 hrs before you make pizzas.

Again, Try everything, before the event, at your home. No amount of advice here can beat that.

Post pics :)

Offline mtx

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Try everything before the event, at your home. No amount of advice here can beat that.

That being said, neos in a portable ovens are extremely hard at the beginning. I'm on my 10th pizza and I'm on a scale 3 (1 being a newbie and 10 being an expert). I burnt my last pizza, just like that!!

If you are making sourdough pies then you want them to come to room temp (after overnight proofing in the fridge), say for 3 to 5 hours or more depending on the room temperature. So you technically don't need a cooler if you take the dough balls out of the fridge about 5 hrs before you make pizzas.

Again, Try everything, before the event, at your home. No amount of advice here can beat that.

Post pics :)

Yup it'll be hard but I think most of the hard stuff will be launching, rotating, and not burning the whole thing. I am more worried about keeping the pizza dough outside in an uncontrolled environment with variable temperatures. Depending on the weather forecast on that July day it might be 27-35C outside which would definitely overproof the dough if I left it out long..... Are there any issues with storing pizza dough in an insulated cooler with ice packs which might keep temps closer to 5-10C???

Offline scott r

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Try everything before the event, at your home. No amount of advice here can beat that.

That being said, neos in a portable ovens are extremely hard at the beginning. I'm on my 10th pizza and I'm on a scale 3 (1 being a newbie and 10 being an expert). I burnt my last pizza, just like that!!

If you are making sourdough pies then you want them to come to room temp (after overnight proofing in the fridge), say for 3 to 5 hours or more depending on the room temperature. So you technically don't need a cooler if you take the dough balls out of the fridge about 5 hrs before you make pizzas.

Again, Try everything, before the event, at your home. No amount of advice here can beat that.

This is perfect advice!  The only thing I would add is that its not just sourdough that would allow you to let them come to room temp for 3-5 hours before baking.   That would work just the same with commercial yeast.  With both sourdough and commercial yeast its all about how much yeast you use. The suggestion to try it first a few times is the best advice here... there are too many variables here caused not only by your temps in cooler, but your mixing temps etc. for someone to quote you on the perfect yeast amount to nail this.  You have to just try it and see. 

Offline mtx

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This is perfect advice!  The only thing I would add is that its not just sourdough that would allow you to let them come to room temp for 3-5 hours before baking.   That would work just the same with commercial yeast.  With both sourdough and commercial yeast its all about how much yeast you use. The suggestion to try it first a few times is the best advice here... there are too many variables here caused not only by your temps in cooler, but your mixing temps etc. for someone to quote you on the perfect yeast amount to nail this.  You have to just try it and see.

For the SD pizza dough reaching room temp in 3-5 hours seems like an eternity to me - can someone please elaborate why this is recommended?? Normally when I bake my SD boule (900g), I wait until my oven + dutch oven are preheated to 400F then I take the dough out of the fridge, score, and immediately place it in the dutch oven. There is 0 wait time needed to reach room temperature when I make a SD boule. Of course I am comparing two different things - SD boule to SD pizza dough - which I have never had experience before (the latter) so it makes me scratch my head. Secondly, if I pre-divide the pizza dough into 15 balls @ 180-200g each in the morning before I leave, saran wrap and place them inside a cooler, wouldn't that dramatically lessen the time needed for the dough to reach room temp? I imagine I could maybe take out one ball every 5 minutes making it a total of 75-90 minutes to do all 15 balls in succession.

Aside from all the experimenting, is there anything I should do / try / avoid to increase my chances of success? Should I just opt for a different type of crust to somehow this easier or am I going to run into the same trouble no matter what kind of pizza I attempt? I figured with a high heat oven @ 900F I might as well go for the goal and make use of the oven. But if that means potentially disappointing and starving 10-12 people I might need to change strategies. Thoughts?
« Last Edit: June 29, 2022, 12:23:55 AM by mtx »

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Offline theppgcowboy

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Call your local health department if you want to be paid. Licenses and health codes need to be followed.

Offline scott r

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you dont HAVE to let the dough warm up at all.  With the right amount of yeast (or starter) you can have this timed so that you can pull it right out of the cooler and get to pizza making immediately just like you would do with your bread.   

The reason why pizza makers allow the dough to warm up a bit is that if your dough is on the cold side (under about 65 degrees) internally you may see large bubbles that displace the toppings.

The other reason why we suggest this is if your baking at 900 degrees you run the risk of having uncooked raw dough in the middle of your pizza if the dough balls are too cold.  At 900 degrees your pizza will cook so quickly that it may not have time to fully cook through.  At lower bread temperatures this isn't an issue.

Offline mtx

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you dont HAVE to let the dough warm up at all.  With the right amount of yeast (or starter) you can have this timed so that you can pull it right out of the cooler and get to pizza making immediately just like you would do with your bread.   

The reason why pizza makers allow the dough to warm up a bit is that if your dough is on the cold side (under about 65 degrees) internally you may see large bubbles that displace the toppings.

The other reason why we suggest this is if your baking at 900 degrees you run the risk of having uncooked raw dough in the middle of your pizza if the dough balls are too cold.  At 900 degrees your pizza will cook so quickly that it may not have time to fully cook through.  At lower bread temperatures this isn't an issue.

Thank you for the insights. What is the recommended temperature for dough to be at when I am working it into a crust, assuming I've pre-divided all the dough into balls already? Keeping in mind that when I'm forming the crust I am also adding warmth to it. And room temperatures are different in different regions and countries. Where I'm at it's going to be in the middle of summer, but assuming the cooler does a good job, would aiming for a 22-25C temp range for the dough be the safest bet? I will be bringing my temperature gun with me to validate.

Offline P K

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Experiment with few dough balls at home. Take one from the fridge and bake it right away, take another one and leave it for an hour and bake it, next one after two hours....Note the temp, humidity and time and write it down. This is the only fool proof way you can figure out what temp and time works for the environment you are you are in. Once you have that data you can extrapolate to the day of bbq using temp forecast for that day.

Offline Whisky

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Short answer: yes.

I've done 5-6 bigger remote cooks where I've had trays of balls stacked into a Coleman 150qt cooler. It works fine. Just lay some ice down and stack on top of that. Work off 1 tray at a time, and when you get towards the end of that one, pull another one out and repeat. Sorry, I can't speak to dough temps, air temps, etc etc... I generally try not to overcomplicate things.

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