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Offline Jon in Albany

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The Jon in Albany Pizza Experience
« on: December 09, 2017, 06:14:55 PM »
Iíve been meaning to start a thread for some time now so here we go. Iím borrowing from the thread title from Jimi Hendrix because his lyric, ďI have only one burning desire, let me stand next to your fireĒ often runs through my head as I strike a match to light the kindling wood inside the wood oven.

The wood oven build is mostly documented here.

https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=44863.msg448574#msg448574

That thread does need another update. Iíve been trying to update as I hit milestones in the construction. Iím almost to the next one (structure is built up with a counter). The structure is built and the counter is getting close.

Like many that have come before me, my pizza journey began trying to chase down the pizza of my childhood. That pizza was produced by The Brick Oven in Bridgeport, Connecticut. It was just a simple wood fired pizza. Not New York style. Not Neo-politan. Definitely not Neapolitan. Just good pizza. They also had great pasta dishes. I was probably about 10 when the restaurant opened sometime in the early 80s. As a family we went often. Eventually the owners grew tired of renting and sold the business. It took a little while for the quality to drop because one of the ownerís kids stuck around to make the pizza. But the place was never the same.

The owners did buy a building and opened a new restaurant but it a little higher end. The main focus is no longer the pizza. They have a new wood oven and look like they do a good take out pizza business. The pies arenít as good as they once were. As my pizza nerdiness increased, I talked to them more about their pizza. They use All Trumps, the oven is a homemade Pompeii half sphere dome and the bakes are in the 6 to 8 minutes range.

The other big influence in my early pizza eating days were Pepeís and Sallyís in New Haven. My dad liked Sallyís. My brothers and I liked Pepeís. For a time, my oldest brother lived in an apartment between the two. That eliminated the line at Pepeís with a take out order and a quick walk back to the apartment for a white clam and bacon pie with a few beers.

Anyhow, back to current day. I plan to make this thread a diary of my pizza making. ITís in the general forum because I plan for there to be more than one style of pizza. The current dough for my usual bakes is a variation of:

100% Flour (Iíve been using Progressive Bakerís Hummer Flour that I get a Restaurant Depot)
  63% Water (room temp spring water)
 2.2% Salt
 1.5% Sugar
And the IDY varies based on the prediction chart and timing. Iíve been using .2% for 48 hour cold ferement. But the dough is good for a few days after that.

The current process:
Water, salt and sugar go into a large bowl, mix until dissolved
The IDY goes into the flour
Add flour to the water and mix until combined and sticky. It then gets covered with plastic wrap and rests for about 20 minutes. Then stretch/fold and about 1 minute of kneading. Wrapped and rested again for 20 minutes. Repeat the stretch/fold and about 1 minute of kneading. Wrapped again and then I pull out a bunch of plastic bags. The dough is then portioned (it is usually about 80 degrees). Iíve been using a 400 gram dough ball for about a 15.5 inch pizza. The dough balls get s light coating of soybean oil and go into a plastic bag. I put the ball at the bottom center of the bag. The corners get tucked under, then the top part of the bag is gently twisted and also tucked under the ball. Iíve found that if the corners of the bag get involved, the dough loses its round shape.

Baking: The dough ball gets a light dusting of flour before it is stretched. Iím getting better with stretching, but I regularly make a football shape (none as bad as the time I visited Norma at Roots Ė that was the biggest football I ever made).  I use rice flour on a wood peel, my sauce is usually Tomato Magic with some salt. I usually use Saputo Mozzeria from Restaurant Depot.

Last weekendís bake was a lot of fun. Everything seemed to go right. The oven floor was about 650 throughout the bake. Dome was 850-900. The stretching went well, the launching went well, the weather was cool (which I like because it isnít too cold to be outside, but itís refrigerator temps outside so thereís nothing to worry about topping wise), I enjoyed the whole bake.

One thing that will be clear as the description of the bake continues is: The people on this forum are awesome. Iíd write a list of all the people that have helped me so far, but Iím afraid Iíd forget someone. Needless to say, the list is long.

Some pictures with the pizza in order of baking. All the cheese is Grandeís East Coast Blend which vtsteve was kind enough to deliver to my house.

Photo 1 Ė the current state of the oven. With the exception of one piece of trim in the back and a counter top, the structural part of the build is over. Itís just making in look pretty. That will wait until spring/summer 2018.

Photo 2 Ė whole grain cheese pie, With the help of barryvabeach, I tracked down a mill on ebay. I got some wheat berries at a local Co-Op and this was the first run. It had a nice flavor but was too dense. I had just swapped out the flour in my regular recipe. After some reading, I believe the hydration was too low. The fresh flour pizza is another work in progress. The mill is a beast. I look forward to messing around with it.

Photo 3 Ė Fra Diavolo, this is my spin on a local pizzeriaís combination. Sauce, cheese, hot sausage, chopped cherry peppers and I added bacon to the mix.

Photo 4 Ė Pepperoni, the pepperoni is Ezzo that was shipped to me by thzaman.

Photo 5 Ė Cheese

Photo 6 Ė mushroom (for my wife, who graciously let me trash the garage and a portion of the yard for a long time)

Photo 7 Ė fancy pants mushroom. I think this might be my first signature pie. Itís a hybrid of 3 or 4 pies that have been on the forum. The base is crŤme fraiche (thatís the fancy pants part), then some cheese Ė sometime fresh mozz, the mushrooms (cut up baby bellas sautťed in olive oil, the minced garlic is added, then a splash of white wine, pinch or oregano, cook off the white wine), then a little more cheese.

Photo 8 Ė A pepperoni to go. That went to a neighbor up the street.

Offline Jon in Albany

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Re: The Jon in Albany Pizza Experience
« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2017, 06:16:26 PM »
A few more pics

I made an apple pie dessert pie. The kids really like that one. Cut up apples cooked in a little water with flour, brown sugar and cinnamon. The icing is cream cheese with confectioners sugar mixed in then thinned with half and half. No measurements, that was just thrown together.

There was one more cheese pizza to go. That went across the street and I forget to take a picture.

And finally, weíve fostered a few dogs in the past through a great organization called Help Orphan Puppies. Well, we did what is called a Foster Fail. We adopted Bailey for ourselves. Couldnít say goodbye to her. She likes pizza too.

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: The Jon in Albany Pizza Experience
« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2017, 07:45:20 PM »
Jon,

Those are great introductory posts. And the pizzas look great too. Best of luck with your journey.

Peter

Offline Essen1

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Re: The Jon in Albany Pizza Experience
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2017, 07:53:45 PM »
Jon,

That's impressive! Pizzas looks excellent! I'm sure your pooch enjoyed them as well.  ;D
Mike

ďAll styles of pizza are valid. I make the best Iím capable of; you should make the best youíre capable of. I donít want to make somebody elseís pizza.Ē ~ Chris Bianco

Offline CaptBob

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Re: The Jon in Albany Pizza Experience
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2017, 09:25:20 PM »
Glad you started your own thread Jon! Your pies always look great!
Bob

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Offline Jon in Albany

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Re: The Jon in Albany Pizza Experience
« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2017, 11:04:31 PM »
Thanks, guys. For a long time I've mostly been a lurker/reader of the forum. I chimed in once in awhile. the forum is kind of like a never ending pizza book. Felt like time to add my chapter.

I wanted another round tomorrow, but a handful of things got in the way.

Offline Dangerous Salumi

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Re: The Jon in Albany Pizza Experience
« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2017, 09:52:49 AM »
That is a pretty awesome looking oven you have there
Have a Dangerous day!


ďThey say that competitive eating is the battleground upon which God and Lucifer wage war for mens souls my friends, and they are right.Ē  - George Shea, Chairman, Major League Eating

Offline Jon in Albany

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Re: The Jon in Albany Pizza Experience
« Reply #7 on: December 10, 2017, 10:44:51 AM »
That is a pretty awesome looking oven you have there
Thank you. That's about 5 years of daydreaming, drawings and reasearch.

I sometimes laugh out loud looking at it.

Offline tinroofrusted

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Re: The Jon in Albany Pizza Experience
« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2017, 04:26:32 PM »
Really great post!  Your oven is going to be beautiful.   And the pizza look really good.  Thanks for this thread. 

Offline invertedisdead

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Re: The Jon in Albany Pizza Experience
« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2017, 09:05:09 PM »
Those pepperoni pies look legit!

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Offline Jon in Albany

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Re: The Jon in Albany Pizza Experience
« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2017, 11:07:44 AM »
Thanks Tinroof and Inverted. Was talking pizza with a friend and wanted to cook again. I looked at the calendar and the 23rd is the earliest possible bake date.

Offline BANTAR1000

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Re: The Jon in Albany Pizza Experience
« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2017, 12:35:08 PM »
Jon you are my hero!  The pizzas look amazing!  I've been following my favorite pizza joint for about a year on instagram and facebook hoping they would accidentally post a pic of their flour and cheese brand.  they finally did and you're using the exact cheese.  I'm trying to find a way to get!  I love it.

At the moment, I'm sick and drugged up.  For about a minute I was curious why you would name your oven "Wonderboard lite."  lol 

Offline Jon in Albany

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Re: The Jon in Albany Pizza Experience
« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2017, 01:34:45 PM »
Jon you are my hero!  The pizzas look amazing!  I've been following my favorite pizza joint for about a year on instagram and facebook hoping they would accidentally post a pic of their flour and cheese brand.  they finally did and you're using the exact cheese.  I'm trying to find a way to get!  I love it.

At the moment, I'm sick and drugged up.  For about a minute I was curious why you would name your oven "Wonderboard lite."  lol
I haven't named the oven yet. Wonderboard Lite is a great option though!


Edit: thought it but forgot to type it....hope you are feeling better soon
« Last Edit: December 11, 2017, 02:44:27 PM by Jon in Albany »

Offline Jon in Albany

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Re: The Jon in Albany Pizza Experience
« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2018, 09:51:00 PM »
Between the holidays, everyone having colds and some pretty low temperatures I haven't had a chance to make pizza. Well, I made dough tonight with the hopes of a Sunday bake. It's supposed to get up to 13F with not too bad a wind. I'm either going to make the pies in the garage and hustle them back and forth to the oven or I can fire up the Blackstone and stay sheltered the whole time. I got some winter gear for Christmas. Time to test it out.

100% hummer flour
63% hydration
2.1%  salt
1.5% sugar
0.0183 Idy

400g dough balls

Offline Jon in Albany

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Re: The Jon in Albany Pizza Experience
« Reply #14 on: January 07, 2018, 11:33:37 AM »
Lit a small fire a few hours ago. It was -1 but no wind so it wasn't too bad out. The temp is supposed to peak in the low teens this afternoon. Sounds crazy, but it has been a month since my last bake.

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Offline Jon in Albany

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Re: The Jon in Albany Pizza Experience
« Reply #15 on: January 07, 2018, 10:29:49 PM »
Mixed results from the bake. In the middle of warming the oven up, I got a call from my sister in law asking to borrow the IR gun. They were trying to find some drafty windows. Since they already had all the moulding off and were knee deep in a mess and the worst that was going to happen on my end was some burnt crust, off went the temp gun. I'm not good enough at reading the signals the oven is giving me. I'm sure they are there, but I'm still mostly blind to them. So I started with what with 20/20 hindsight was a floor that was too hot. Other than a hole in the first one, the bake went pretty well. I made the pizzas in the garage and walked them out to the oven. Today I learned that one can work a peel while wearing snow blowing mittens. For most of the bake, it was about 10 degrees F with minimal wind.

So once again, being my own worst critic, the bake wasn't ideal. Everything came out good enough though. Looking forward to more practice, preferably without the snow blower mittens.

1. dough balls made on Thursday

2. pepperoni doughnut-style
2a. not pictured - a cheese that got delivered

3. Sausage bacon pepperoni

4. Cheese

5. Bacon, meatball with a post bake parm dusting

6. pepperoni that went across the street

7. blurry mushroom

8. cheese
 

Offline Jon in Albany

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Re: The Jon in Albany Pizza Experience
« Reply #16 on: January 07, 2018, 10:32:49 PM »
A Rosa and a chilly view of the oven. The blur at the bottom of the oven is Bailey checking to see if I dropped any toppings.

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