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oven finally done-need some help cooking

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  • oven finally done-need some help cooking

    Hello all, I have been lurking here for the past few weeks, purging information about building my pizza oven, and I am pleased to announce it is finally finished! I have slowly brought it up to temp and it seems to be heating and staying warm up to 24 hours afterwards! now comes the part I have had alot of trouble with...I have attempted 6 pizza cooked and 5 of the 6 have been a catastrophe trying to get the darn thing from the peel to the oven and returned in tact. I have tried wooden peels, stainless steel and every time i try to slide it off the toppings slide off and the dough folds up. I am using quite a bit of flour on the peel and on the dough. I have also had a couple pizzas stick to the floor and end up in a cheesy gooey mess! I am cooking in the 400-600 range and have been using pre made dough from Trader Joe's, anyone have some suggestions? the first beercan chicken turned out perfectly, so I am anxious to make the perfect pie! Thanks and I look forward to any suggestions
    Last edited by trialbyfire; 08-06-2009, 02:08 PM.

  • #2
    Re: oven finally done-need some help cooking

    I have always been very happy to be a homemade dough kind of girl, even before I got on the WFO bus, but someone recommended the Trader Joes dough to me once so I picked up a wad or two when I was there for something else. I thought it was awful with a capital A, as in inedible, and really, it takes a lot for me to say that about anything that includes cheese and sauce on bread. Absolutely nothing like homemade, proper pizza dough.
    You just have to make your dough from scratch if you want it to a. taste good, and b. perform properly in a WFO. And I think you need to get your oven hotter first, too. Granted the peel technique does take a bit of practice...make sure it's not stuck to the peel and then a quick jerk to get it off the peel onto the cooking floor, kinda like flipping a pancake or tossing stuff in a saute pan. Too much topping makes it a lot harder, so keep that in check.
    Premade doughs have all kinds of weirdness in them that might not agree with the hothothot of the WFO, whereas the WFO dough recipes here are all just flour, water, salt and yeast.


    • #3
      Re: oven finally done-need some help cooking

      I have also had a couple pizzas stick to the floor and end up in a cheesy gooey mess!
      If your pizzas are sticking to the floor, they are leaking toppings in a BIG way. No way will bread stick to the floor at WFO temps.

      First: are you at pizza temperatures? Has all (or almost all) the carbon burned off your dome?

      Second: work on technique: make some pita breads, half batches of dough with no toppings. This gives you a real feel for dough handling. Don't be alarmed if they blow up like balloons. They flatten out when they come out of the oven.

      Finally: Minimal toppings on WFO pizzas. You GOTTA see the dough through the sauce. You have to see the sauce through the cheese. A sprinkle of this or that: no mounds of toppings.

      And keep the pizza moving on the peel. I use a wood peel with a sprinkle of rice flour. Is your peel rough? a fine sanding helps make it smooth and slick. Stretch dough and shape, give it a little shake. Top. Shake. Sure they stick sometimes. A flour coated dough cutter helps get a stuck spot loosened, but if there is a big sauce leak, it may be calzone time.
      My geodesic oven project: part 1, part 2


      • #4
        Re: oven finally done-need some help cooking

        Thank you both for the tips, I do need some practice for sure. One more question- does the floor have a period of seasoning? Im using an Alfa Caminetti oven with standard floor and dome made by them. I have gotten the temp as high as 9-1000 degrees prior to cooking, then cooled to 5-700 when cooking so Im sure the oven is at proper cooking temp (clear-no carbon) I give the floor a quick brushing with a wire brush prior to inserting the pizza, so its smooth and clean. Am i missing antthing? Thanks for your help!


        • #5
          Re: oven finally done-need some help cooking

          The peel sticking problem is strange. Yes, beginners occasionally struggle but...

          Take a jelly roll pan. Put a cup or cup and a half of flour in it and spread it out. Put the dough ball on the flour. Form the dough on the flour, spreading and flipping it so both sides are heavily floured. You can make pies from super wet doughs that way and they shouldn't stick.

          Or, as suggested, make your own dough (any mixer will do though hand kneaded is where you want to go) and if you have problems with sticking (even using the above if necessary) make the dough drier by reducing the water.

          You still want to put something on the peel - either rice or IMO semolina.

          And you want to make the pizza and put it in the oven in a reasonably short period of time. Dough WILL stick if it sits on the peel for an extended time. The dough shouldn't need to be on the peel for more than two or three minutes.

          If toppings are all over the place you are either being too violent (which should not be necessary if the dough isn't sticking to the peel) or too much toppings.

          It sounds like you are removing the fire or only having a tiny fire when you make pizza and your oven is IMO too cold if it is 500 to 700 on the hearth. Throw a half teaspoon of flour on the hearth. It should stay white for about three seconds before it suddenly turns black. In your oven the time is probably five to ten seconds. While that is an okay temp for New York pizza where you need a long cooking time to bake through a half inch of dough and topping it is way too cool for thin pies and is a really hard temp to maintain in a WFO so you won't have consistent conditions and every pie will be a new experience.

          The hearth should be around 700 to 800 degrees, say 750. The dome should be 800 to 1000 with most of us on this list serve favoring 900+ based on prior conversations.

          Two last suggestions. If all the above fail put the pies on an aluminum pizza plate (available from restaurant supply stores at low prices) and simply put the plate in the oven and cook it on the plate. Once the bottom is set you can remove the pan and put the pie back in the oven or just bake it on the pan all the way. The crust will suffer a bit solves the sticking problem.

          If all of that fails, order delivery! (That's intended as humor - not a putdown!)
          Last edited by texassourdough; 08-07-2009, 12:15 PM.


          • #6
            Re: oven finally done-need some help cooking

            Thanks for the info, again I think Im on the right track. Just gotta get the proper dough and keep my wife from putting ten pounds of mozzerella on the top! Jay I figured that if I amortize the cost of the the pizza oven build to average take out pizza, I would probably be better off buying a Pizza Hut franchise!


            • #7
              Re: oven finally done-need some help cooking

              really, do go for the handmade dough. there's just no comparison between it and anything that you can purchase short of talking your local WFO restaurant out of some of theirs

              I was thinking exactly the opposite about cost. I figure I've spent about 2k on my oven which will be in regular use for as long as I live in this house. on the other hand, I paid $40 and tip to have two small (and very mediocre) pizzas and a bit of salad delivered the other night. At that rate, I figure my oven will pay for itself in less than a year, not to mention the pizza we get to eat will be 100x better.

              I have had a tendency to be a topping-aholic. obviously, the smart answer is to put less stuff on, but I've also resorted to pressing everything down a bit before moving them, too, and that helps. this is regular oven cooking I'm talking, so use this advice at your own risk. a really thin, pliable dough ala WFO might not take well to this treatment.


              • #8
                Re: oven finally done-need some help cooking

                Good news! cooked a perfect pie last night. Fire was roaring and temp was well above 8-900deg Hot Hot Hot! Made my own dough and made sure plenty of flour on the peel. Came out of the oven in about 4 minutes with a light char crust, toppings intact and no gooey cheese all over the oven! I did a little last minute add of a handful of grated parmasian cheese for good measure and elevated the pizza into the dome for about 20 seconds. I do think the hearth has benefited from a little bit of fire seasoning. Now I am ready to start cooking some other recipes. Gotta do the beercan chicken again as it was a hit. Thanks to all for the advice, and the shot of the new oven is in the photo album (Bay Area)


                • #9
                  Re: oven finally done-need some help cooking


                  Once you get a few successes you shouldn't have too many relapses. Why none? Because some of us (like me) occasionally do something dumb - like trying to make a NY pizza in a hot WFO with dough too thick and too many toppings and toppings tumble off onto the hearth and.... but eventually you decide experiments like that are STUPID (well I did) and stick to what works! And that means "Good Eats!"

                  American pizza is about the toppings and that can be made in a regular oven. If your wife insists on ten pounds of mozz tell her to bake it inside. When you get the thin crust right (and it needs to be overnight to get the best flavor) the pizza becomes about the bread and the toppings become accent points. With the exception of the sauce which I USUALLY spread uniformly, I like other things dotted across the pizza so every bite is different!

                  Fire On!


                  • #10
                    Re: oven finally done-need some help cooking

                    You may be able to tell your wife to take it inside..... I'm a brave man, but not that brave!!!

                    I take the good and the bad - my wife and my guests are starting to figure out for themselves that less is more (thank goodness my wife figured out that about me early in our relationship).

                    Our first pizzas looked like the land down under but always tasted great. I still get an Oz pie from time to time when luck is with me. My dough skills are not that great.

                    I still get the occasional request to cover every square inch with pepperoni and ham with a cheesy blanket. I stick it in the oven near the opening and as far away from the fire as possible and it usually turns out pretty good. I'm my own worst enemy here - they say -mmm remember that time we jammed all the stuff on the pizza - it was sooooo good!.

                    slowly becoming fav around here is the margaretta - thin slices of home grown tomatos, buffalo mozz (soon to be homemade mozz) and basil from the garden

                    BTW - my outdoor kitchen is still not done. Oh the shame I've brought upon myself and my family....

                    Take Care,

                    My oven progress -


                    • #11
                      Re: oven finally done-need some help cooking

                      My local restaurant supply sells pans dotted with holes in the botom, I have 6-12 inch pans. I make all the pizza's at the same time, put all the toppings on then cook them 2 at a time, leaving them on the pan in the oven for a minute or two then throw them on the bricks...You can also use a ton of toppings that way (if you like) My oven is in the corner of the back yard and it makes it a lot easier to get everything out there in trays and then serve them in the same trays. Good luck and like anything else, Practice and your technique will prevail....
                      Last edited by ThisOldGarageNJ; 08-16-2010, 05:49 PM.


                      • #12
                        Re: oven finally done-need some help cooking

                        Very sparing on the sauce, toppings and cheese is the way to go. That way the base cooks and bubbles and the edges char in all the right ways.

                        I fire my oven for at least an hour and a half (two hours is better). Hotter is better really.

                        I think the comment about not leaving the pizza on the peel to long is spot on. I did this at the weekend and instead of sliding off easily it stuck and the sausage and some of the cheese flew onto the base of the oven. Because the oven was so hot they all burst into flames immediately. However, the pizza did eventually come off and we were left with a very acceptable cheese and tomato pizza.