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Making First Pizzas

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  • Making First Pizzas

    Saturday 16t June
    Well, been firing the Pompeii all week to dry it out and and had our first pizza tonight.
    Read up on all the clues but there is more to this than following the instructions. made the dough as per instuctions, weighed it all very accurately, let it absorb the water, mixed the flour in as instructed, let it rise, cut into balls and let them rise then all hell broke loose.
    It all sounds so easy to flatten your dough out to a credit card thickness, but after almost tearing it to bits through spinning in the air (as the prosdemonstarte their expertise) even using (forgive me James) a rolling pin, loaded the ingredients and tried to slide it onto the newly made, square ended peel - bad news, and then tried to slide it off the peel into the hot oven, again bad news. I think I need a non stick peel! Half the dome was white but obviously not hot enough for my pizza, but my wife's turned out OK but then again she cheated by putting hers on alfoil. A wise lady who learns from my misgivings.
    Although I pulled mine out early, it was a little doughy but tasted fine. I tend to like a little doughy! Marcia's pizza was left in for considerably longer and was fine.
    I have an infra red digital thermometrer on order and it should arrive next week, so the hearth and dome temps will be better known.
    I have 4 thermocouple points in the oven but I have still to find the thermocouple wire to make up the longer probes. My son will let me know early in the week, so next week end - watch out.
    Big cook-up tomorrow night with the family so I will put in one hell of a fire, get the whole dome white and cook on alfoil until I get the experience and ability to slide the pizzas on and off the lightly floured peels easily.

    Last edited by nissanneill; 06-24-2007, 04:58 AM.
    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

  • #2
    Re: Neill?s Pompeii #4

    Ahh yes, I remember the first pizzas. As far as getting pizza into the oven, I'd suggest stay away from attempts at credit card thin and stay away from rollers. Spinning the dough if you use the FB recipe is also unlikely to succeed. The magic of this recipe is pliability of the dough. It is not stretchy, it is silky when done right. Once I got past initial dough issues I settled on a patting/gentle stretching method. Make sure you let the dough relax for a while in a dough ball prior to stretching for pizza. I don't know about a nonstick peel, but if you have a stretched but not overthin dough (I use about 300g for a 14" pizza), enough flour, short time on the peel, and not too many or too wet ingredients, then a plain old wood peel works well. You have many more gratifying experiences to look forward to with this - and I say that knowing you were probably tickled with the first few pizzas already.


    • #3
      Re: Making First Pizzas

      Hi Neill,

      Great posting Neill. I have move this to the pizza section.

      Keep going. You will definitely become an expert at making your pizzas and controlling your oven and peels.

      One thing I am thinking is that jumping right in with the very high hydration dough and thin crust is really jumping in the deep end. Maybe we should recommend a drier dough and less thin base the first few times someone makes pizzas. It's like trying to hit a killer cross-court backhand right out of the gate. You can alway work through the basics of controlling your oven, flouring your peels, and turning your pizzas and getting them out of the oven first -- then progressively try to make better dough and pizza bases over time -- and with more practice.

      What do you think?

      Neill, I am also thinking your oven might not be that hot. It's still early, and it is a lot easier to make pizza in a hotter oven. Let's see what the infrared has to say.

      Keep up the good work!
      Last edited by james; 06-18-2007, 09:30 AM.
      Pizza Ovens
      Outdoor Fireplaces


      • #4
        Re: Making First Pizzas

        I went directly to pizzas with 60+ percent of hydration. I do not find any problems.
        And I never had used an alluminium foil under the pizzas, too!
        Whit a hot oven (380-400°C on floor) the highly hydrated dough goes to excellent pizzas as magic!



        • #5
          Re: Making First Pizzas

          I am NOT an expert but because of the generous help from James and several members in getting my oven going and a bunch of edible trial and error attempts, I'm going to dive in. My very first pizza looked just like that. ...No kidding.
          James spotted your oven problem. Lack of heat. In order to get that big ol' All Nighter log involved you'll need a bigger base of glowing coals. In fact, I'd split it to get more surface area. Fire needs Oxygen, HEAT and Fuel. In your case, the residual heat from what coals you have is being used to heat up the log so it can become hot enough to combust. You'll notice a black layer of ethereal soot floating about mid-line in your oven. Those are the BAD Oven Pixies. You want to add more smaller pieces of wood to get the temperature to where the wood catches fire almost immediately, snaps and spews forth little sparkles of light. You may be ahead of me here, but yes, these are the GOOD Oven Pixies.
          About the pizza. Making sure you have room temperature dough, just press out the rounds with your finger tips. Pick it up and drape it over the back over your hand. It'll stretch a little. Hanging onto the side or rim, try a hand over hand stretch. In one revolution, it should be close. Now... before you place it back on your table or peel be sure you still have a lightly floured surface. 60 -63% dough sucks up flour. I use a peel due to a small prep area. Shake it back and forth a little to make sure it's got wheels. Do this often if you dress slowly.
          Here's the big secret. Toppings. Less is MORE! Use about a third of what you have pictured. This is really hard to learn for most people because we grew up on 4lb. pizzas. In a moderate 500-600 degree oven it might work. But once your oven is cranked up (900+) and baking under two minutes or less, all those wet toppings will become a gooey mess.
          I'm certain you'll have this mastered in no time. I can't tell you how many pizzas I converted into calzones or sacrificed to the fire gods.
          It's a HUGE learning curve. ...So just lean into it and open it up!


          • #6
            Re: Making First Pizzas

            Thanks guys
            this is a real learning curve.I am encouraged by everyone, including the family as my wife is probably the fussiest of all, and she even approves. There might be a chance for me yet!!
            I purchased a 10Kg bag of flour from a very popular Italian warehouse that was popular for most pizza customers but will try others as I work through this lot. The FB recipe was followed to the letter and I thought whilst teasing out the dough, I was playing with rubber, even though it was not handled or mixed any more than necessary. maybe the flour, the process or just inexperience.
            I will search out some other flour sources (we have a specialist bread supplier here with many different flours) and will get some smaller trial packs to use. I did use the live yeast but I can't see that affecting the dough. You guys refer to 'proofing' the dough but we 'down under' refer to it as 'rising'.
            The FB recipe states 90 -120 minutes but that obviously depends on the ambient room or atmosphere temp, so I placed it on a side table in front of our slow combustion heater in a fairly warm room. It worked well but usually 150 - 180 mins to double in size, again maybe yeast type.
            However we will persist and they are getting better (in appearence) but they still taste great!

            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


            • #7
              Re: Making First Pizzas


              I just got your post and had to look up Adelaid. Good Morning!
              This whole experience will be based on what you, your family and mates expect.
              You'll try to "get it right" with respect to VPN standards while never actually seeing, smelling or tasting one. ...So ( I can feel a hail of disdain) just relax and make the best pizza within the full capabilities of your oven and most of all what you all enjoy.
              Keep digging around various places and you will most assuredly make the fussiest of wives very proud. So much that before long she'll say "Good onya".

              Good luck and most of all ...have fun!