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Pizza Bases

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IMO, a pizza steel is the key to getting decent pizza bases in a residential domestic oven.

I was practising TIG welding at the time, so I welded up two sheets of 6mm mild steel into a 12mm plate that fits the oven shelf. It's bloody heavy, and I would go for an 8mm plate if buying a new piece from a steel merchant. You want to make sure it is mild steel, not stainless. Stainless reflects heat so it not good for this application. If your steel comes with complementary rust, you can remove that with some scotch brite or steel wool. Don't remove the mill scale, which is hard, greyish oxide layer on the plate. The mill scale is your friend, will help prevent further rust, and is non stick, and non toxic.

Each oven is different, and my Westinghouse oven has an analog temperature control dial. I experimented with placing the steel at different locations in the oven, and ended up at the top shelf. Experimentation was required to find the right setting on the dial, where the temp control was not linear nor did it max out if you maxed the dial. 250 deg C was the last annotated temp of the front panel, and I found a setting of 280 deg (estimated) gave a plate temp of 305 deg C after 1 hour of pre-heating. Further increase of the dial resulted in reduced temperature, which is not what I expected.

Using a slow fermented pizza dough with 70% hydration, it takes about 6 minutes in total to cook the pizza. 4 minutes on pizza oven mode, 2 minutes on grill mode. We let the oven and plate recover for 10 minutes before baking the next pizza. Enough time to enjoy a glass of wine and talk shit.

Pizza Stones are not suitable at these temperatures. Stone is ideal for wood fired ovens where the temperature is around 400 deg C. At 280 deg C to 300 deg C, the stone is too slow in conducting heat. The pizza steel has a better thermal conduction characteristic at these temps, so the bottom is covered in nice "leopard spots" with a fully cooked base, and top.

My tips:
- Try and find Carputo Red 00 Pizza Flour. It has the best characteristics for a good base.
- Slow fermentation helps : Typically I used 2g yeast for 1 kg of flour @ 70% hydration, 2 hour bulk proof, then into fridge for 24-72 hours. Remove, shape into 250 g balls, and proof again for 4 hours at 25 deg C.
- Don't overload your pizza, and avoid wet ingredients like fresh capsicum
- 70% hydration can be difficult to shape and handle, so at the end of proofing your balls, put them back into the fridge. As they chill down, they become less sticky, and easier to handle, and still cooking up really well.



--- Quote from: beanflying on August 24, 2022, 02:01:45 pm ---I have a stone base but for domestic ovens I prefer the non stick Plates with holes in them for ease of use and cleanup. Not a totally uniform crunchy base but just a better compromise for me at least.

--- End quote ---

I *did* have two ceramic pizza stones, but both cracked last week (weirdly in almost identical places with the same curve) after I placed pizza on them. I imagine the temperature differential between the hot stones and cold pizza/pan was just too much.

I was actually making these, which turned out VERY well:


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