Monday, June 13, 2011

"Pizza Eureka!"

Another "Small Step Giant Leap For Mankind" Made In My Humble Kitchen...

As I've written many times before here on this blog and over on my much neglected cooking blog, The Redneck Gourmet, I spend a good deal of time attempting to master the art of cooking Pizza in a home oven.

It's been slow progress over the past ten years.

First there were the issues of the design and consistency of the dough.

Then later I moved off of a metal Pizza Pan in favor of a Pizza stone--today owning two very well seasoned stones.

And then toppings and sauce and so on have been areas of interest through the ages of experimentation, and now with my efforts approaching something in the numbers...a guestimate of around 400 to 500 crusts later...the actual progress has slowed to a snails pace.

That said, that doesn't mean things are bad around here on Pizza night in my household, because the actual QUALITY of my home made Pizzas--dough/crust and sauce--I'd put up against almost any Pizzaria found anywhere in the country.

I guarandamntee you that 9 out of 10 of my Pizza efforts yield a Pizza Pie better than anything made by Pizza Hut and Dominoes and Pappa Johns and most of the local pizza houses in your area...


when it comes to really thin crust Pizza in general and when the restaurant kitchen is running a real wood fired pizza oven.

You see, by cooking a pizza in a real pizza oven they are able to attain temperatures between 700 and 800 degrees Fahrenheit, while in my home oven I'm only able to get up to between 500 and 550 degrees F, and that temperature limitation makes all of the difference in the world when it comes to getting the right "crispy crunch" on Pizza Crust.

So any way, I cooked a standard crust Pizza last Thursday Night, and as usual we had a little less than half of it left over.

Then Sunday night I was going to re-heat the left over which had been wrapped tightly in aluminum foil sitting in the fridge since, when I got a wild hair and decided to make a quick test Pizza with a rapid dough rise and attempt another thin crust experiment.

I normally let my dough proof for over two hours including a small batch pre-rise starter ( see my recipe here ), but on this effort I just tossed the yeast into some warm water, let it foam up, then mixed it all together with the salt and white pepper and the rest of the flour and stepped back from the process while "nature took its course."

In the mean time I was Googling around for some ideas on getting my Pizza stone pre-heated in the oven at 550 degrees F while being able to roll out the dough and put the pizza together on another stone or pan, then somehow sliding the finished pizza off onto the hot stone in the oven...without using a Pizza Peal. (I'm buying a wooden Pizza Peal--or paddle--as we speak.)

In the process I tripped over this couples' web site called "" where they told me something I had never thought of in cooking Pizza.


I knew that bakers used parchment paper in spring form pans and on cookie sheets to keep things from sticking while cooking in the oven, but I never thought about the idea of using the stuff under a pizza crust before.

So any way, I finished up my pizza with a quick hour rise, tossed and wrestled the dough around and rolled it out real thin, then I built the pizza on a stone on top of a wide sheet of parchment paper cut to size while my other stone sat in the oven at 550 degrees F getting smoking hot.

Then with Pat's assistance I picked up the Pizza stone with the raw pizza on top and moved it over to the smoking hot stone sitting on the bottom rack of the oven and grabbed the edges of the parchment paper and the Pizza slid right off into place on the hot stone.

Then you know what we had only TEN MINUTES LATER?

The BEST DANG CRISPY THIN CRUST PIZZA that's ever come out of my kitchen.


I'm tempted to cook Pizza every day for the next month...but I can't...

...because I ran out of yeast in that effort (I usually only buy three to six packs at a time to keep them fresh.)

So later tomorrow I'm heading back to the grocery store for more yeast and possibly some different flour.

Rumor has it that the King Arthur Blue Bread Flour like I'm using for my thick crust is inferior to plain King Arthur Red Multipurpose Flour for thin Pizza crust because of the differences in gluten content and the amount of moisture it will hold...but that detail is beyond the scope of this discussion and you need to catch up with me if you want to start arguing things like Gluten while making Pizza.

Regardless, I really think that I'm on to something here with the Parchment paper idea supporting a good thin crust pizza in a 550 degree F oven.  Now I have to cook it another half dozen times in the name of science to prove my theory.

Feel free to stop by about 7 PM tomorrow night for a sample...and so much for losing weight this summer I guess, you know?

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