Pizza making notes

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Updated 2022-09-13

Baking Steel

When baking pizza in our standard oven, I use Baking Steel (I have the griddle version, which I flip over to the side without a trough) preheated in the oven for ~30 mins at 500F on the top rack. I launch the pizza with a wooden launching peel onto the steel for ~3 minutes, then turn the broiler on high for another ~2 minutes. Great results!

Ooni

I have an Ooni Koda 16 for cooking pizza outdoors. It is propane-powered. The propane is better at sustaining a high temperature than the wood pellet versions, and the 16″ gives you more room for larger pizzas and a larger cool area to keep your pizza from burning.

Perfect for when you want to make pizza on the deck or days when you don’t want to heat up the house.

The turning peel they sell is essential. So is a wooden launching peel. I honestly don’t use their regular peel much.

Setup

I set it on a metal outdoor table on the deck and put a large cutting board in front of it so I can pull the pizzas out right on to the cutting board.

Preheating and testing

I need to preheat it for 20-30 minutes before cooking the first pizza. Good to go when it is 800F and above with the infrared thermometer.

I it out by making some garlic cheese bread first:

  • 1 pizza dough stretched to half the size of a pizza
  • Butter
  • Garlic
  • Mozzarella

Keeping your pizza from burning

The burner is in the shape of an L, on the left and the back. No burner on the front or right, so the coolest region is in the front right.

Right before I launch the first pizza, I turn the flame down as low as it will go. This is key. The top still gets hot enough for nice leopard spotting, but usually doesn’t burn. In-between pizzas I turn it back up full blast to keep the stone as hot as possible.

Start turning about 45 seconds after launching. If the crust is getting too dark without the top cooking, move it to the front right corner so it gets more indirect heat.

Calzones

Recovery calzones are clutch. Rip a huge hole in your pizza dough or can’t get it to make a nice circle? Make a calzone instead.

In my experience, calzones need a bit lower heat to keep the tops from burning while the insides finish cooking.

Dough

  • If I have a couple of days, I like Baking Steel’s 72 hour dough recipe.
  • If I’m making dough the same day and have 3 hours notice, I like Ooni’s classic dough recipe.
  • If I’m making pizza in an hour, best to drive to Trader Joe’s or Cortlandt Farm Market and buy pre-made dough.
    • Trader Joe’s herb dough is great for cheesy garlic bread.

I haven’t successfully made a batch of dough yet from a sourdough starter, but I’d like to play with that this winter.

New dough I want to try:

Pizza Dough for an Outdoor Pizza Oven Recipe
A pizza dough specifically formulated for a high-temperature tabletop pizza oven.
www.seriouseats.com

Shaping

  • Make it round first and let it rest.
  • If easy to work with, pick it up and let it stretch in your hands while working around the edges to keep it circular.
  • If it is hard to work with, roll it out first then use the hand method.
  • Finish with the knuckle method: Dough over both hands, knuckle side on the dough, continuing to stretch and rotate the dough.

Building the pizza

  • Light on the toppings is better
  • Less sauce (so less liquid) is better
    • Fresh mozz lets out water!

Favorite topping combos

  • Traditional margherita
  • Sausage + pesto
  • Pepperoni, red onion, and black olive
  • Vodka sauce + mozz + basil
  • Mozz + mushrooms + thyme + butter and olive oil

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