TIPS AND TRICKS for MAKING WOOD FIRED PIZZA
I bought eggplant to make eggplant Parmesan. I researched and I found the recipe I wanted to use. I even bought the eggplant. It is two weeks later and I had to throw away the eggplant and realize I am just not going to have the time. So I decided I would try my bread machine for making pizza dough and that would make a nice subject for my blog. I did make the dough with the bread machine and then the rain started. I had hoped to share my Stromboli recipe with you and make it in our Roundboy ovenbut I didn't want to take pictures in the rain. I made the Stromboli in my Jenn-Air and it was delicious but not a good subject for a wood fired blog!
Sometimes, for no reason, I just can't fit all I have planned into my day ( Karl is thinking as he reads this that I plan too much for one day). So I am going to blog today about tips and tricks that we have learned while using our wood fired oven. I am not going to feel bad that I didn't get done what I wanted because I am positive I did more in the past weeks then our government accomplished in it's journey to solve the great debt crisis! Eventually I will make eggplant Parmesan and Stromboli and I will share it with you. Eventually our government will solve the great debt crisis ( I hope because I love to listen to the news while baking and this subject is getting a little boring).
I will start with my bread machine. What a handy machine this is for making dough. It does all the steps my Electolux Assistentdoes without me paying attention. I just put all the ingredients in and it does it all. It can't make a huge batch like my Assistant can handle but for a single batch of dough enough for three 10'' pies it is perfect.
Pizza dough is not hard to make. I will repeat that pizza dough is not hard to make. I have found that most issues I have with dough can be solved by just walking away and letting it rest. When it won't press out ( I like to press and stretch my pizza dough not use a rolling pin) I walk away for a few minutes and when I come back it cooperates. When we make pizza the first pizza is never the best. I let Karl think it is something he is doing or not doing when he bakes the pizza but I know it is because I start the first pizza without working and shaping and then letting it rest. As soon as I give him the first pizza I start my next one working and shaping the dough and then letting it rest while I eat the first pizza! For some scientific reason ( that I don't care to know) letting that dough rest makes the next pizza better. Each pizza gets better as we go and I am convinced it is the dough resting and warming a little. Now as to why I don't do this with the first pizza, just a habit and I am not good at breaking habits and there is a lot of debate over the reason the pizza is so good. Is it the dough and toppings I made or the way Karl handles the pizza in our oven? When the pizza is perfect it is because I made it and when it is not quite perfect it is because Karl didn't bake it just right!
I have found flour does make a big difference. Unbleached bread flour works well. I use a mixture or unbleached bread flour and oo flour that I buy from a local restaurant supply. Different flour makes the crust thin or thick and bread like. I like my pizza thin and crisp in the center with a nice big bread like crust edge. Experiment with different flours until you get the crust just the way you like it.
Flour or corn meal on the peel helps the pizza slide right off. Now I mean just a little flour or corn meal because no one wants a mouth full of flour or corn meal with their pizza. Chef Corey does not use this trick, he gives the dough a little "throw" like it is a baby blanket and that puts a little air under the dough so it slides off easily. I have tried this but my dough just does not work for this technique. I prefer to blame it on the dough!
When the dome of the oven turns white the oven is ready for pizza. Another trick for knowing you are at the right temperature is to toss a little flour onto the oven floor. If it turns golden brown it is ready.
I like New Jersey canned crushed tomatoes best. I am lucky because K.C. lives in New Jersey and keeps me stocked up. I do not season them. You can use seasoned tomato sauce or San Marzan tomatoes or any other tomato sauce you like. The trick here is do not put too much tomato on your pizza. You should see the white dough showing through the tomato and you do not want wet and watery tomato. This also goes with all your toppings - less is best.
Freezing you mozzarella cheese makes it easy to slice. I like slices of cheese over shredded. The oven melts shredded cheese too fast.
I wait a few minutes before I slice the pie and I put the fresh basil on after I slice it. This just makes it easier to slice and every slice ends up with fresh basil.
I like fresh mozzarella but it is too wet most of the time. I layer it with a paper towel to remove some of the moisture. 20 minutes usually is enough time.
When cooking the pizza if you lift the pizza as if to check the underneath and it bends it is not done. When it is crisp it won't bend.
The dome of the oven is the hottest part so if you need the cheese and toppings cooked a little more raise the pizza to the top of the dome before removing from the oven. This will also give the pizza a wood flavor.
We have had dough that didn't rise the way we like, pizza dough with a hole and everything leaked out while we baked it, we have burned the pizza and under cooked the dough a little, topped our pizza with everything from cauliflower to apples, Nutella and marshmallows, our pizza has stuck to the peel and fell apart, it has been too thin or too thick and I still have enjoyed every one we made and even if it was not my favorite it was really fun to make and really fun to bake outside with wood in our backyard!