Adventures in Home Pizza Making: Part III « blogging for burgers

Adventures in Home Pizza Making: Part III

It has certainly been a while since I wrote about my pizza experiments at home.  Last time we saw our superhero, I was still noodling with my dough recipes, and I was still unearthing some pretty significant take-aways in my quest to make a Neapolitan-style pizza at home without a fancy oven or special equipment.

While my dough continued to improve, the heat source was still a big question mark for me.  I was unsure that the grill was getting hot enough and was any better than making the pizza in my gas oven.  So I decided to give it a shot and see what happened.

The Dough

I was happy with how the dough had turned out last time, so I went with the same basic recipe, using an autolyse stage and only some light kneading on the board.  For some reason, the dough did not seem to get very smooth, which still is a challenging part of the process for me.  However, after resting on the board for about an hour prior to baking, everything seemed to be just fine, and the dough was easy to stretch and work with.


Burgergal and I were having some people over for dinner, so I decided to make four pies.  Very impressive, I know.  The plan was to to make:

– Two margheritas (as you shall see, this didn’t exactly work out for us)

– Mushroom, caramelized onion and arugula

– Italian sausage, caramelized onion, ricotta, and mozzarella

(It was pretty much a given that the last pie was going to be the best.  And it was.)

I kept everything pretty simple, mostly since this was a weeknight dinner.  I used a raw tomato sauce with the garlic/basil infused oil, since this seemed to work pretty well last time.  I caramelized the onions in oil and cooked the mushrooms in the rendered sausage fat.  I set up my mise en place like a champ and we were ready to start makin’ pizza pies.

My Oven is full of hot air

My oven is a standard New York City gas oven with the heating source on the floor of the oven.  I put the stone on the bottom rack and cranked it up to broil.  It gotup to about 550 degrees, which was actually hotter than I expected.  After about 30 minutes, it was time to get baking.

"Top me off."

The first pie went into the oven without a hitch.  The dough slid right off of the peel (which you all will remember is not my greatest strength), and the oven actually worked pretty well as the heat source.  The crust did not get quite as charred on the bottom, but it was definitely crispy and the cheese got nice and bubbly.

As you can see from the picture below, I am still not getting huge pockets of air in the crust, and I’m honestly not sure if I can get there given my heat constraints.  The olive oil on the crust was definitely a good move though– the crust got golden brown and had a richer flavor than before.  It was also less “raw” tasting, which was an improvement.

Let’s take a closer look.

While the sausage pie was the crowd favorite of the evening, I have a special place in my heart for the last pie of the night, which was intended to be a margherita until I ran out of tomato sauce.  I did, however, have plenty of mozzarella left.  So I piled it on.

And piled it on.

And piled it on.

After 15 minutes in the oven, the cheesy pizza was born, named after the pizza shop on 100th and Broadway in New York City.  It arrived on the cutting board like an aircraft carrier amidst destroyers and gun boats in a Naval fleet.  Its awesome cheesiness broke through the pizza shrapnel, leaving nothing but a grease stand in its wake.  It was big, it was bold, it was cheesy.

I could feel my arteries clogging as I ate it.  Yet I couldn’t stop.

All in all, I would say the oven is a legitimate place to make pizza at home.  While I was missing some of the smoky flavor from the coals, the crust was more consistent and the results were far more predictable for every pie that came out.  It did take a bit longer to cook each pie, but it was far easier than heating up the grill.

For the next round of experimentation– “00” flour.  That’s right, Naples’ finest, in my kitchen.  What’s gonna happen?  No one knows.

Until we eat again, ciao.

Parts 1 and 2 of the (so far) trilogy:

Making Pizza at Home Part I

Making Pizza at Home Part II

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