Author Topic: My first pizza: what's best for me?  (Read 1609 times)

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Offline Natephish

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  • Location: Connecticut
My first pizza: what's best for me?
« on: November 30, 2006, 12:36:10 AM »
Hello all, thank you for taking the time to read my topic.  I've made homemade pizzas before, but with premade dough and pre-made sauce.  I want to attempt making "from scratch" pizzas but I want to know what equipment is best for me to buy and the best way to cook my pizza in my oven.

I live and grew up in Connecticut, about 15 minutes from New Haven.  As any pizza aficionado would know, New Haven is the home of Pepe's Pizzeria, widely disputed as one of the best pizzerias in the world.  I would agree!  I grew up on Pepe's and believe that it is the creme de la creme of pizza.  As such, I want to aim high and strive to make the most Pepe's-like pizza I can.  Sadly, I know that cooking in an electric oven will never wield those results.  That doesn't mean I can't get as close as humanly possible!

So here's my question.  Screen or stone?  High temp, short baking or low temp, slower bake?  I've been browsing the forums, reading arguments for and against both, and I really want a definitive answer.  Judging by the kind of pizza I want, what's the best for me?  I think I've found a pretty decent dough and sauce recipe, but I'm glad to hear suggestions of others that would make my pizza the best!  I know very little about which types of cheese to mix for my topping, so any suggestions there would be greatly appreciated as well.

Thanks to all!

Offline Finnegans Wake

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  • Location: Harrisburg, PA
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Re: My first pizza: what's best for me?
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2006, 08:38:06 AM »
There's certainly a lot to digest on this site.  I recently discovered the site as well, and I've done only a few experiments so far with my homemade pizza.  I wish I were familiar with Pepe's pizza, but no such luck. 

So here's my question.  Screen or stone?  High temp, short baking or low temp, slower bake?

I've used a stone with so far great success.  I've seen pics here where people used a combo screen and stone, and one plus I can see for that is ease of transferrence when using a wet dough loaded with sauce, cheese, and toppings.  Last night I did a batch, with a peel, the pie on parchment paper dusted with cornmeal.  Now, I had cranked our oven to its max (550F-575F), so parchment paper for the duration of baking is not recommended.  I found that after about a minute, the dough had set to the degree that I could slip the parchment out before it flamed.  But a screen might relieve that issue entirely, as would, perhaps, mastering the technique of using a floured peel.  I'll try the floured peel next.

IMO, your best bet is to use the highest temp possible, but of course it does depend on the kind of dough and pie you're making.  I'm going for my Amish country version of New York-neo Napolitano pie, and it's getting better.  Not knowing the Pepe's style, I'd suggest trying the highest oven temps you can crank as a starting point anyway.

I make individual pies, since my wife won't eat meat, and last night one was a cheese pie and one pepperoni.  On the plus side, the pies held their shape better than previous efforts due to the new tranfer method.  They rose really nicely, had good chew and nice bubbles in the dough.  Hers was a little light, mine turned out a little darker.  My last version was dark and crispy but could have used a bit of this version's chewiness, so I think I can average them out and get close to what I'm looking for.  It's thin, but not crackery, you can fold it without breaking, but it also holds its shape and won't flop.  I haven't experimented as much with the cheeses and sauces as yet, still working on a dough that can be the base.  Using the Sourdough Intl. starters, by the way, does help the flavor, IMO.

Just keep trying, and definitely listen to the folks on this board who offer such great insights.  Good luck!
Education: that which reveals to the wise, and conceals from the stupid, the vast limits of their knowledge. --
Mark Twain