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Gus's experiments in making pizza with very hot ovens.
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October 7, 2020
Gozney Dome

The Gozney Dome is a new outdoor oven coming in March from the folks who make the Roccbox. $1,299.00 for the wood burning version, $1,499 for wood and gas. The Dome is billed as being good for baking pizza, bread, roasting, slow cooking, etc. It has a digital thermometer, a pretty thick stone floor, and some neat optional accessories like a steam injector, an adjustable door, and a stand.

If this was available back when I was building a wood fired oven, I probably would have purchased it. It's quite a bit cheaper than a traditional wood fired oven, the heat up time is a fraction of what it takes to fully heat a brick oven, and at 128lb you can take it with you should you ever want to move houses.

I've often thought of Gozney as the equivalent of Apple for today's consumer pizza ovens. The Roccbox, while more expensive than most of its competition, is a really good oven and will work for years without any problems (as I've experienced firsthand). Gozney has obviously put a lot of work into this oven, and it shows.

October 4, 2020

Anytime I'm making pizza outside of the kitchen, I've had a 3/4" marble slab that I use to prepare and dress my pizzas on. It's pretty nice, but it's also super heavy. So for a while I've been on the lookout for something to replace it with. And then recently I came across a very large cutting board from Ikea called the LÄMPLIG ($20 USD[1]). So I grabbed one and tried it out.

I'll throw a little bit of flour on the board, shape my pizza and add toppings, then slide my Roccbox peel under the dough and take it the oven. It couldn't be easier. So if you find yourself in a situation where you don't have a smooth flat surface to prepare your pizzas[2], I can recommend this board or one similar to it.

1) The LÄMPLIG is also available on Amazon, but at a much higher price.

2) Personally, I think you should always prepare your pizzas on a flat surface that isn't the peel which is taking your pizza to the oven. You avoid issues where your pizza can stick from sitting too long, and it keeps your peel cleaner if you're making multiple pizzas.

Gozney: What is Neapolitan Pizza?

Long before every New York corner had a slice joint, before Wolfgang Puck was topping salmon pizza with caviar in California and before every frozen shopping aisle was stocked with approximately 999 versions of exactly the same thing, there was Neapolitan pizza. If we were to create a family tree of pizza styles there would be a clear and obvious head of the family.

The Godfather, if you will.

May 19, 2020

Here's a couple of lunch pizzas I made today for myself and Madeline. I pushed the Roccbox a bit hotter than usual by throwing in some chips of apple wood and cranking the gas regulator up. The dough turned out nice and soft, you just have to really pay attention so nothing gets burnt.

First up is Jalepeno, absinthe salami from Zoe's, garlic olive oil, and basil. Probably a 60-70 second bake.

Salami

And then we have Madeline's favorite which I've been calling "The Madinara": red sauce, garlic olive oil, and kalamata olives. Hold the chease please.

Madeline's 'Madinara'
Slow Mo Neapolitan Slap

Here's Adam Atkins of Peddling Pizzas using a technique known as "The Neapolitan Slap" to stretch his pizza dough. I've never been able to get the hang of this particular maneuver.

Knead to Know: Understanding the Power of Flour

John Arena writing in Pizza Today:

Generally speaking Italian flour is classified by how finely it is milled, meaning the degree to which the husk has been removed. A designation such as “00” will not tell you the protein content. This type of flour will feel more powdery regardless of actual grain size because it contains less of the course husk. There are type 00 flours with a wide range of protein levels for different applications. Usually protein content is the first thing that pizza makers look for in selecting a flour. Consider fermentation time when selecting flour. Longer fermentation will usually require higher protein.

Italy's Buffaloes Treated to 'Jazz and Massage'

The half-tonne black water buffaloes spend their days lounging on rubber mattresses, munching on organic hay or looking forward to vaporised showers that form a fine cooling mist from overhead pipes.

When they feel the urge, they saunter into a special pen for automatic milking by a unique machine that knows the exact shape of each udder thanks to a code emitted by the electronic collars the buffaloes wear.

Wow.

There's just one catch: If you want it, you have to drive to the farm, 50 kilometres (30 miles) south of Salerno, to buy it, as Palmieri does not bother with distribution – or marketing, for that matter.

Business is brisk anyway, thanks to the dairy's word-of-mouth fame and international reputation among jet-setting buffalo milk aficionados. Around 45,000 customers visited the on-site farm shop in August alone. On a recent visit, dozens of cars were in the parking lot and a group of German tourists were touring the farm.

Huh.

Neven’s Pizza Dough

My friend Neven Mrgan has put together a great page detailing how he preps and bakes his pizza dough. Highly recommended.

I've also been working on a page detailing my tools and process, hopefully I'll find time to finish it in the next couple of weeks.

Meet the Man Behind the World’s Only Sourdough Library

From Atlas Obscura's description on YouTube:

According to Karl De Smedt, the man behind the world’s only sourdough library, sourdough belongs to the entire world. Burbling away in refrigerators are over 100 sourdough starters from around the globe, all chosen due to their renown, unusual origins, and often, estimated age.

Smedt refreshes the starters with the original flours as well. That's dedication.

April 8, 2020

For a while I've been wanting to build out a little section on this site with info about the Roccbox oven. Tips, tricks, etc. There's no time like the present, I may I present to you: Roccbox Tips, Tricks, Links, and Stuff.

The Roccbox also recently got cheaper for folks in the US! Here's an email I recently received from Gozney:

Last year due to escalating (Trump) tariffs and other factors out of our control we were forced to increase the price of Gozney Roccbox in order to continue to supply the product in North America.

Since then we’ve been working hard with our manufacturing and supply chain partners to reverse this and we’re pleased to announce that we are now able to reduce the price of Gozney Roccbox to $499. We believe everyone should be able to enjoy restaurant quality pizza at home, so we’re delighted to make Roccbox more affordable to more home chefs once again.

You can grab a Roccbox via this Amazon link to help support this site.

March 22, 2020

Andrew Janjigian on Instagram on backing up your starter:

⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣I am super paranoid about losing my sourdough starter, which is why when I refresh mine, I place the previous one in the fridge in case of catastrophe (I also keep a backup backup in my fridge at work, just in case; I told you I am paranoid), then I throw out the previous previous one. I suggest you do the same here, so you can at least go back one generation if need be. (Which is why you'll need two containers to go back and forth from; be sure to clean them thoroughly between uses.)⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣

I follow a similar pattern, except I go a little bit further and keep three backups in the fridge. I also put a little piece of tape on top of the mason jars with the date it was backed up.

Backups of starter

Have I ever needed to use a backup? Yes— twice. Sometimes a starter can just go wonky on you.

P.S., you can find those fancy freezer lids on Amazon, but they are a bit pricy right now. You might have better luck in a local grocery store.

March 17, 2020

Here's the longer version of a post I made on Instagram.

Day… 6 of quarantine? The days are blurring together. I've always worked from home, but with Madeline out of school, Kirstin at work, and us basically staying at home otherwise- it's a bit difficult to keep my sanity. We'll make it 6 weeks though. I hope.

Luckily there's still pizza and bread to make.

pizza a pizza b

Mine.

pizza c

Madeline's.

pizza c

Bread made today and yesterday.

The bread is because I'm trying to get through some old flour before it goes bad. The pizza is leftover from Sunday night's dinner. I made six dough balls on Saturday, two of which were used for Sunday's dinner. Then I threw the remaining into the fridge to use for lunch today. Since there's only two of us for lunch, that means there were two leftover. I did a little bit of practice shaping (I really want to learn the neapolitan slap technique!) and cooked it without toppings for the worms.

Some of the loaves are probably going to go into the compost as well. Madeline has a raging runny nose right now, and with the general quarantine, I'm not going to be giving out the extras to neighbors. Which is a bummer, but at least the worms will get to enjoy it.

March 16, 2020

It's been a while since I've had notes on this site. I'm feeling the need to write a little now though, since my daughter and I been staying home because of covid-19 outbreak. School is canceled for 6 weeks.

Here's one of the pizzas from last night's dinner. You can find the dough recipe here.

The toppings were Aidells roasted garlic & gruyere cheese, mushrooms, fresh moz, and some spicy olive oil I've put together. Not pictured was a little grana padano I added after it came out of the Roccbox.

pizza a

The flour was from a brand new bag of Shepherd's Grain HG. I'm guessing the flour was milled more recently, and from a harvest last fall. I used a 68% hydration for the dough, and that seemed like a bit too much. So for the next batch I'll probably drop it down to 66% and see how that goes. Last fall I was using up to 70%. It's amazing how much variation you can get from bag to bag.

pizza b

We still have four dough balls leftover in the fridge. Madeline and I will most likely have them for lunch tomorrow.

March 15, 2020

Brittany Wood (aka sour_flour, who you should be following on Instagram): Starter vs. Levain

Starter vs. Levain. What’s the difference? Aren’t they both made of flour and water? Today let’s get back to the basics. When I first started baking I’d find starter/levain/poolish/sponge/biga/pasta madre used in different recipes all the same way, some people would call starter, levain while others used levain as a preferment for their sourdough, I was so confused! Well essentially they all mean preferment and are interchangeable in recipes, it all just depends on the baker and their lingo they use and what background they have. In this video I’m explaining what the difference is of starter and levain in MY recipes to make it easily understandable.

I'm still mostly confused anyway. But hey maybe follow her Instagram feed because she makes amazing looking loaves.

Anthony Mangieri on the Grow Wire Podcast

This was a fun listen. Mangieri goes into the history of how he started up Una Pizza Napoletana, the moves, and where he's at today. I also found it interesting that he doesn't stick to a single formula when making dough, instead Mangieri is constantly changing up the flours to see what happens.

Pizza Wallet

Pizza Portafoglio, a fun little YouTube vid showing how pizza was served back in the day.

But Will It Get a .1 Update to Fix the Soggy Center?

Vice says that sources claim that Apple's pizza is very good:

“I’m a pizza lover, I literally eat pizza on every city I visit, I can say it was a good pizza, the sauce was great. The cheese was melted perfectly and I don’t know which blends they used but it was rich and delicious,” Rodriguez said. “I’m a huge Apple fan and eating pizza at Apple’s HQ was a dream come true for me.”

The last time I had pizza at Apple was back in 2003. I'll have to worm my way in next time I'm in town to get an update on the latest pies.

The Carlson Block Instagram

These pictures of pizzas coming out of The Carlson Block pizzeria are kind of amazing.

(Found via Neven Mrgan)

10k Pizzas Made in a Single Roccbox

Adam Atkins of Peddling Pizza fame, shares a pic of his original Roccbox over on Instagram. It's baked over 10,000 pizzas, and it's still in great shape.

Not So Secret Anymore

Food Insider video: LA's Secret Parking Lot Pizza.

Eleodoro Lopez found a liquor store that would let him park in its lot and started selling pizza out of it a few months ago. Now he's gaining recognition for selling delicious Neapolitan-style pies for $10 each in Silver Lake.