Author Topic: Need advice: stones and cheese.  (Read 1215 times)

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Offline beanball

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Need advice: stones and cheese.
« on: February 09, 2010, 10:16:40 PM »
Hi all!

First post here. Loving this site. I'm a Canuck in desperate need of help.  :D

So I've been working on home made dough and sauce recipes. I'm loving my sauce right now so I don't feel the need to concentrate on it at the moment.

I picked up a couple stones and I've been experimenting with them. But I must admit I haven't know of this site since recently so I've been evolving on my own really.

I like my dough, not sure if I love it yet but I like it. However I feel I need some guidance in a few areas:

1. In Canada we don't tend to have easy access to "whole milk" mozzarella - its not in your common grocery store usually. I searched high and low where I am and finally found a place that sells it. Its super expensive but I want the best. I tried a few pizzas with it, and I swear as my pies were cooking, water was cooking out of the cheese. I notice when handling it it seems a lot more watery than your avg cheese. Has anyone else experienced this? Is there a special way to deal with this? Perhaps let it sit out or pre-cook it somehow? Essentially it makes my dough soggy and the pie doesn't cook right.

2. My toppings have been known to cook faster than the dough. Usually I put two pies in my oven (have two stones) and the one on the bottom works out OK, one on the top doesn't. I've been rotating halfway through lately, which works, but still I need to give my dough more cooking time it would appear. Recently I heard of pre-heating the stones. Is that my answer? Because I'm not doing that now. And if that is the answer, how the heck do I slide my pizzas to the pre-heated stones??? So lost on that one...

3. Finally, sometimes my dough is sticking to the stones after cooking. Is their a technique to prevent this? I put some cornmeal down but I don't want to overdo it. Is there any special ingredient to prevent this?


Offline TronCarter

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Re: Need advice: stones and cheese.
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2010, 03:11:00 PM »
Welcome beanball,

Whole milk mozz is a little difficult to find in grocery stores in Michigan too, but I have found a source.  In my town there is a company that is a supplier for local businesses.  Produce, canned goods, spices, utensils, frozen food, etc.  They not only sell in large quantities and deliver to business, but they also allow non-business customers and have a store front.  They sell bricks of part skim or whole milk mozzarella for right around $2 per pound.  In a grocery store it would easily be $6-8 per pound.  The only catch is that you have to buy it a brick at a time (about 8 pounds if I remember), but since cheese freezes well, I usually buy a brick, grind it a little at a time in my food processor, and freeze it in quart sized freezer bags.  No moisture problems either, this stuff is dry like the part skim that you would get at a deli.  At any rate, you might want to check around to see if you can find a store like this in your area.  Fresh mozzarella on the other hand is usually quite wet.  I haven't used it before, so I don't have any recommendations on drying it out.

As far as the top of the pizza getting done before the bottom, yes preheat the stone.  I usually crank my oven all the way up (550F) and let it stay there for 30-45 minutes before putting a pizza in.  If you just wait for the oven to reach temp, the stone is still relatively cold as it hasn't had a chance to absorb any heat yet. The bottom will cook faster and therefore the top won't have a chance to burn.  Preheating should also take care of the sticking problem.

Another thing you might try it to use a pizza screen in conjunction with your stone.  I make my pizzas on a screen and then place the screen on top of the preheated stone.  The bottom still gets browned nicely and I don't have to worry about excess flour, cornmeal, or semolina.  If don't want to do the screens, you can still do it by making the pizza on a peel and then sliding it from the peel to the hot stone.  You might "crash" a few while you are learning technique, but it doesn't take long to get the hang of it.

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Need advice: stones and cheese.
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2010, 04:00:07 PM »

In addition to what TronCarter has said, I would advise baking only one pizza at a time, using one stone in the oven, either at the lowest oven rack position or a middle rack position (you may need to do some experimentation to find the best oven position for your purposes). The device that is used to load pizzas onto a hot stone is called a peel. You can see what peels look like at http://www.mrpeel.com/. I have two peels, one of wood to load pizzas into the oven and a metal one to move the pizza around while in the oven if necessary and also to remove the pizzas from the oven. You can also use a screen in conjunction with a pizza stone as TronCarter noted. That way you might not need a peel to remove the pizzas from the oven but you will need something to safely remove the pizza on the screen from the oven without getting burned in the process.


Offline Puzzolento

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Re: Need advice: stones and cheese.
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2010, 08:22:45 PM »
Try the deli counter at your grocery. They often have whole-milk mozzarella for slicing.

Here's my method for fixing bad cheese. Stir a little light olive oil into it. This will make cheese that doesn't have enough fat behave more like quality cheese. I use around a tablespoon for twelve ounces of cheese. Butter works too, if you prefer it. And cut your mozzarella with provolone, which is generally a whole-milk cheese. You can also add fat to your cheese by mixing sharp cheddar into it. Sounds disgusting, but once I agreed to try it, I found it worked. You may need to reduce the acidity of your sauce if you use cheddar.