The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Busy busy month

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Floydm's picture
Floydm

Busy busy month

Things have been very busy for me lately.  One of the more exciting things has been finally launching the new Mercy Corps website, which we've been working on for some time.  I'm very pleased with how it came out and urge folks to go check it out.


Traffic here has been nuts.  Last month TFL had over 1 million page views, which is an incredible figure.  There were a lot of factors involved in that: an increased interest in bread baking, an increased interest in doing things to save money as a result of the economic downturn, a couple of lucky placements in StumbleUpon, and a number of lively discussions going on here.  I do expect traffic to ebbs as the weather in the Northern Hemisphere turns nicer and more folks turn to their gardens to save money rather than their ovens, but we definitely have a new high watermark.


Despite all this, I have baked some.  Pizza two weekends ago.


Pizza dough


Pizza with sauce


Pizza with cheese


I tried tinkering with Jeff Varasano's trick of setting the oven on self-clean to preheat my stone.  Sure enough, after about 5 minutes on clean my oven locked itself and I had to turn it off for 15 minutes before it cooled down enough that I could open it and turn it back on.  I've not yet made the decision to try clipping the safety, but I'm thinking about it (insert standard disclaimer about "do not try this at home" here).


The pizza still turned out well at 550.


The pizza is done


Last weekend I made the obligatory batch of hot cross buns.


Hot Cross Buns


Yummy as always.

Comments

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Floyd, you've been very busy and yet still have found time to bake...your pizza looks great and so do the hot cross buns!


About clipping your oven safety..I wouldn't do it...if your oven goes to 550..you can make wonderful pizza's.  I know I've tasted mine...ha,ha...seriously though...I've tasted them out of my 750 wfo and hotter and out of the indoor 550 oven.  They are dawn good at 550 indoors!  Hey I know try a new crust recipe instead of messing with your oven!


Sylvia

mattie405's picture
mattie405

Floyd,


    I too had thought about disabling the lock on my oven, but then thought better of it. Maybe I am just a scaredy cat but then again, maybe that lock is on there for a good reason. I can just about get my oven stone up to Jeff's by pre-heating for an hour on 550 then turning the broiler on high for 15 minutes, then just before putting the first pizza in the oven I turn it back to bake at 550. Doing it this way the stone gets searing hot and you really have to watch a thin crust pizza because it will cook usually in about 3-5 minutes and will be a little charred on the bottom. It is a big waste of energy tho and so when I make pizza I usually make about 8-12 of them and bring a bunch over to our sons place, those 4 grandkids can gobble them up almost as fast as I can make em, they measure about 14 inches accross and would rival many in NYC.....where we originally come from, we grew up eating that famous Patsys Pizza, having lived 4 blocks away in our youth. I should mention I guess that my "stone" is the bottom of the Hearth Kit, but I have also used my old regular supermarket stone this way with no difference, I think getting the stone as hot as possible makes more of an impact on the crust than the high oven temp does.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

A good idea and, yes, probably safer than disabling the lock.


Where do you position your stone when making pizzas?  I usually put it pretty low, like on the bottom or second from bottom rack.  But I'm wondering if with that technique it'd make sense to position it closer to the top where it'd be closer to the broiler.  And, as Jeff points out, the top of the oven typically is hotter than the bottom anyway.

mattie405's picture
mattie405

I used to keep the stone on the bottom, I figured that it would get more heat coming up from the bottom coils in my oven. Last time I had hubby remove the stone (it is too heavy for me) well, he put in back in on the wrong position in the oven, he wasn't home and I was making pizza for us and I had a choice of either waiting for him to come home and move it (I just know I would drop it if I tried) and then wait an hour or more for dinner for the pre-heat, or go ahead and preheat as I usually do...........bingo, with the stone on the mid to top third of the oven it still got hot as before but when I turned the broiler on it really blasted the heat into that stone, at the end of the 15 minutes broil time I swear it was just about glowing.....you could tell it had gotten much hotter than usual because when I put that first pizza in you could see the edge of it staring to swell up while I was pulling out the peel. It was a revelation of sorts, the hotter I get that stone the more the crust seems like something from a big commercial oven. I have been pushing and hoping to put a woodfired oven in the backyad but to tell the truth with the way the pizza now comes out I can happily put that project on the back burner, besides having to be outside to tend a woodburner in a hot Louisiana summer is not a good time. Try moving your stone up and don't forget the broiler, I think it is the one thing that has made the most difference in our pizza.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Interesting.  I'll definitely try that.  Thanks for the info.

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I put my stones '2' which came with the oven and a rack that holds them...it is made inset to hold the stones snug together and covers the length/width of the oven.  It is placed on the bottom shelf as the instructions state.  I do preheat my stone for at least 40 minutes...preheating the stone does make a big difference in the pizza crust.  The stone can burn them on the bottom and sides if left to long...I find they time just right for getting the crust the way I like it and top does not burn the cheese...Also placing ingredients on top your cheese makes for a nice melted cheese without overbrowning!  I have never tried putting the stone under the broiler..I thought it might crack them...I don't know!  But Im not going to do it because I don't feel it's necessary for my pizza's.  I also heat with my convection setting and not the bake setting!  The convection also has a setting to proof bread and adjust the convection heat if necessary!  The stones I have are made to fit the top oven which is the convection oven..the bottom oven does not have a convection setting.


Sylvia


 


 

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I would be afraid to pull the oven door open with it heated so hot on the cleaning cycle...combustable objects like my hair or someone with hairspray on could be dangerous!  Like Pam says ... not with kids in the house...or even teens that are learning to cook and bake!  My brother is a retired Battalion Chief, 2 of his sons are firemen as was my late uncle and several other cousins...they would tell you not to do it!


Sylvia

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Gosh, I just never get tired of pizza! Yours looks terrific as usual. I'd like to cut the lock to the self-cleaning cycle, but think it is to drastic a measure to take. I can turn out a pretty decent pizza with standard operation, so I'm unwilling to push the envelop. Plus you have kids, so that is another good reason not to tinker with that lock. The buns look terrific too.


--Pamela

poppyfields's picture
poppyfields

and I'm loving your site, Floyd.  I love the pics and the videos and the kindly expert help.  I too, made hot cross buns for the first time this year, and I also just made hot dog buns following advice on how to shape dough on a couple of videos found here.  DH said it elevated the hot dog to heavenly levels and I credit it all to your site.  Thanks for your hard work.  Its delicious.  ;-)

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Thank you and welcome to the site!

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Jeff is a driven individual and will stop at nothing to achieve the perfect crust. Clipping the safety might be OK for him but anyone with a family or a home they can't affoard to lose by creating a fire hazard should probably not try that trick.


There is however a way to achieve the same effect using a modified Weber grill. There are a bunch of folks who are modding the 18" Weber by cutting the bottom out of a charcoal unit and setting the cooker on a gas burner. Here is a link to the thread. It's a work in progress and I have been using my cooker for a while off and on. The original idea came from a guy who calls himself Villa Roma. He makes Pizza better than anyone I know of like a mad man. Check out the thread and if you go back to the beginning you can get some tips on how to make one. My unit works at 650F and can cook a Pizza in about 4 minutes just like Patsys.


Eric

mattie405's picture
mattie405

Eric,


     I just went and read thru the first 15 pages on your linked site, now I have to show it to my son. That kid can build anything, I'll see when he figures he'll have time to do this for me. This could be a great solution for me, I would still be out in the blazing heat of a southern summer but at about 3-4 minutes to cook a pizza, well I'll handle it. We do have 2 of the small Weber grills here, may have to try on one of them. Thanks for that link.    Mattie