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  • failure at making pizza

    OK my oven is cured and I was cooking my first pizza on sat. I bought pizza dough from Trader Jo's beleaving It would be easier for the first time. Will it is not easy to role a round pizza. My first one maby to thin because when I tried to get my peal under it to put it in the oven it would stick to the peal and got all lumped up. I'm not sure if I put too much sauce on it or if I need to make it thicker to handle it raw. Any tricks out there? I dumped that one in the tras and made a second one. This was smaller and thicker I put more flower on the bottom and it was easer to handle. Got the fire to 940+ and floor was 820+ pushed the coals to the right of my casa 90 and put a log on top. Log burning well so I put my pizza on the left side of the oven. Took about 2 min to cook kind of doughey on top but the sides were turning black. So I thought it was done. Did I get the oven to hot? Should I have smaller fire going when cooking? Ate the pizza but it was not very good. My third try was with a pre made pizza about 10in cooked it for a little less than 2 min it was ok but burned on the edges.My coals and fire take up about 40% of the oven space. I guess I need practice. After the fire burned down I closed up the oven and the next morning about 12 hr later the oven was 400% on mon am the oven was at 250 to 270. Mon night it was still at 160 to 180. Any tips for preparing a good pie would be helpfull. Thanks

  • #2
    Re: failure at making pizza

    Hi Doug,
    don't feel despondent with your first attempt. My first attempt was almost as bad but tasted great. See:


    Got a few responses and got better with a little more experience. This is really a science combined with an art to get it all to work together as you hope or expect.
    Even mixing your dough is a science and needs percaverence to get it to work properly, but be patient as it take a lifetime to obtain perfection, if it can be achieved at all. So long as you are getting better is the best road to success. If you are impatient, then maybe look at doing a course to get you better quicker. then experiment a little, slowly but surely we all get there.
    Now, even though I am still a newcomer to the art, we are making progress. My wife who is rather fussy when it comes to what she likes and eats is keen on me making more breads and buns but not over fussed with pizzas. See my later attemps:


    Can't help you yet with any great pie receipes, but they will be here buried somewhere in the forum. I have been baking my wife's and sister's fruit pies with great success.


    Prevention is better than cure, - do it right the first time!

    The more I learn, the more I realise how little I know

    Neillís Pompeiii #1
    Neillís kitchen underway


    • #3
      Re: failure at making pizza


      Not an expert, yet. But it sounds like the dough may have been too thick. Also, store bought dough is more geared to home ovens (ie 450-500deg) with its lower hydration and unkown flour, than our high temp wood ovens.

      I use whole wheat flour on my peel, under the dough, and shake, shake , shake to keep it loose.

      The FornoBravo pizza guide is good make sure and read that. Then read this site; Jeff Varasano's NY Pizza Recipe Between the two you will have everything you need to know to start the learning process at the "mouth of the fire god".
      Wade Lively


      • #4
        Re: failure at making pizza

        Hey Doug,

        Wade makes a good point. Have you read our wood-fired pizza e-book? That's a good starting point. We try to take you from zero to excellent in a single book.

        Things that I am thinking include:

        1. Your first might be too large in volume. 40% is a lot. You can rake out coals if you have to, though you need to keep your flame lively.

        2. Start with a 700ºF fire and a 3 minute pizza to get the hang of it.

        3. Make a focaccia the first few pizzas each time you fire the oven. Dough, olive oil, salt, rosemary and 1 teaspoon of tomato sauce. It's a great appetizer, and you will get a feeling for the oven and the dough.

        4. Turn your pizzas at least twice to keep the side closest to the fire from burning.

        5. Try to reach a pretty uniform thickness. Too thin spots will burn first. Too thick will stay doughy.

        Let a lot of great things, I guess making a great Italian pizza takes a little practice. :-) You will definitely get there.

        Let us know how it goes.
        Pizza Ovens
        Outdoor Fireplaces


        • #5
          Re: failure at making pizza

          Doug - I did the Trader Joe's dough for my first pizzas thinking the same as you that they would be easy and while they tasted ok, but it was not easy to work with. I find thier dough is good if you are using a pan in your kitchen oven, but I think is too wet/thick for my brick oven.


          • #6
            Re: failure at making pizza

            I'm told my first pizza from my oven looked like Austrialia:

            You should have seen the first pizzas that came out of my inside kitchen oven on my pizza stone. And you should have heard the smoke detectors..... oh yeah and the seen the smoke.

            I did not have the hang of the dough sliding off the peel and checking it right up until I put it in the oven. I tried to slide it in and pull really fast like a magician pulls out the tablecloth and ended up with a folded up mess and cheese all down the back of my oven.

            Closed the door of the oven as if Mom just heard me break a vase and looked at my wife. Denying reality that it would all be good. Within seconds the oven was filled with smoke and shortly after that the smoke detectors went off even with the vent fan on. I pulled the pizza stone out of the oven and then ran around the kitchen until I asked my wife to open the outside door.

            I put the stone in the gas grill and went back in the house to fight the burning cheese in the back of the oven.

            Disaster - yes. Fun - now that I think about it - yes. LEarning experience - definately. Second pizza about an hour later was the best pizza ever!!!!!

            (turned on the gas grrill turned the stone over and burnt off all the junk!)

            Sorry I can't be of more help!

            My oven progress -


            • #7
              Re: failure at making pizza

              Here's your problem. Trader Joe's and the like are formulated for a NY style pizza 500 - 600F. Just like Varasano's. The real trouble starts with OIL and Sugar. I did a side by side not long ago. A Neapolitan dough (Caputo, Water, Starter & Salt. The other was a commercial dough (Flour, Water, Sugar, Oil, Yeast and other stuff the factory sticks in)
              90 seconds in Hot (800+ Deck Temp.) The Neapolitan was great. The commercial dough went from brown to black then caught on fire in the same time frame. So I tried another using a perforated aluminum pan. Same story.
              A home oven - even one that is modified, is nothing close to a 900+ wood burner. The VPN isn't just something a couple of dudes scribed on a parchment for laughs. It's physics. Sugar burns quickly and oil is conductive causing the dough to fry instead of bake. Wet flour (62 -64%) seems to have almost a refractory property. It resists the hot surface just long enough for the water to steam and yeast or starter to spring. Just then, it's perfect. A moment too long and you get a good looking pizza with tough crust.
              And this is why when it comes to toppings - less is more.
              Kinda like a concert. As the string section (dough) bakes and the crescendo is building, you can't have the bassoon guy (extra cheese) over in the corner jump up and solo for another 60 seconds. This is where physics and art shake hands.
              Throw stones if you like, but this is what I have observed in the little time I've had this oven running.
              Good luck!