Disclaimer: To bake great pizza in a home oven requires a bit of experimentation for best results for your oven. Every home oven is different. This is what I have worked out for my home oven and my style of pizza. Your oven will be different. What works best for my oven may not work best for your oven or for your style of pizza.
Today I continue my Baking Steel pizza stone with the same dough used in Pizza at home: Baking Steel, this time after a two day cold ferment.
I placed a 1/2 inch Baking Steel approximately 8 centimeters from the top broiler of my oven, on top of a terra cotta paving tile.
Oven setup for 1/2 inch Baking Steel, located approximately 8 cm below electric broiler element.
I turned the oven setting to high. At the same time, I removed two portions of dough from the refrigerator.
Tartine sourdough, two day cold ferment.
My current go to pizza dough recipe is the Basic Country Bread recipe from Chad Robertson’s Tartine Bread: just flour, water, salt, and leaven (from wild sourdough culture) at around 78% hydration (I suppose that would be about 80% total hydration if you account for the leaven which is at 100% hydration). I typically fold the dough once after 30 minutes, then divide the dough into 280g portions and place each portion in a separate container and place in the fridge to ferment. I typically bake with the dough anywhere from a 1-4 day fermentation.
Tartine Bread: simplified recipe notes (I add an additional 80g of water with the salt.)
After about 30 minutes, I shaped the dough into balls and let them bench rest for 30 minutes. Again, I found the dough easier to work with after about 45 minute bench rest. I need to remember to allow at least 45 minutes bench rest before stretching.
The dough was shaped and bench rest was about 30 minutes before stretching. Handling was improved after about 45 minutes.
For the first pizza, I forgot to set the oven to broil before stretching the dough, so after I launched the pizza, I set the oven to broil and propped the oven door slightly ajar with a metal spoon.
My mouth was watering even before this pizza was launched onto the Baking Steel.
Two things: 1. Because I forgot to set the oven to broil before stretching the dough, the pizza stone did not have sufficient time to heat prior to launch. 2. With the door propped slightly ajar with the metal spoon, the broiler element stayed on, so the top of the pizza cooked faster. OK. Three things: 3. I must learn better how to drink beer and remember all my pizza baking steps!
I love the aroma of ham & mushroom pizza hot from the oven!
I removed the pizza when the first spots on the cornicione were just turned black: 2 minutes, 53 seconds. The pizza was removed to a cooling rack for two minutes to preserve crispness of the crust before plating and slicing.
Note: I was lazy and did not turn this pizza halfway through cooking for an even bake. That is why the pizza is a bit more cooked on one side than the other. Even in a proper woodfired pizza oven, the pizza needs to be turned half way through cooking. I have added an 8″ round pizza tool to my wish list…
Less heat, less char
I neglected to let the stone heat under the broiler prior to launch so when the top was cooked, the bottom was not charred as much as it could have been.
Bubbles! Delicious bubbles…
With the broiler element glowing through the entire bake, there was plenty of heat for great oven spring. Unfortunately, since I neglected to preheat the baking stone prior to launch, there was insufficient heat in the stone to bake the pizza from below and match the baking from above. The end result is that the pizza coloured on top before the dough was completely cooked through. I must remember to preheat the stone under the broiler prior to launching the pizza…
All things considered, this was a most excellent pizza.
Onto the second pizza: Pizza Margherita!
Just before stretching the dough, I set the oven to broil and let the upper element heat to glowing. Because this second dough ball had more time to relax on the bench, it was much easier to work with.
Pizza Margherita ready to launch.
This time I actually remembered to preheat the stone before launch and left the oven door closed through the bake.
I removed the pizza when the first spots on the cornicione were just turned black: 3 minutes, 50 seconds. The pizza was removed to a cooling rack for two minutes to preserve crispness of the crust before plating and slicing.
Nice char from the preheated stone.
Looking very good so far…
Those air bubbles in the dough create areas of thin dough and leopard spotting! (that’s a good thing)
This was a most excellent pizza. The cornicione was baked through, light and airy. The crust had decent char. Not too bad.
Note: As with a proper woodfired oven, the pizzas need to be turned at least once during baking for even cooking. I did not turn these pizzas, hence the uneven cooking. I have added an 8″ round pizza tool to my wish list.
I still do not have a non-contact infra-red thermometer, so was unable to check the temperature of the stone just prior to launching the pizza. I hope to buy one soon…
The flavour of the two day sourdough was more pronounced than the one day ferment and the dough was easier to work with: Greater extensibility and lower elasticity.
Next up… Three day fermentation.