The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hamelman's Pizza dough

gavinc's picture

Hamelman's Pizza dough

Recently I tried Hamelman's pizza dough for the first time in our brick oven. Wow!

I usually go for a quick dough made from scratch a couple of hours of being used; but after this I'll never go back.

This dough begins with a stiff biga started the night before. The result was a light yet full crust with the most wonderful taste. I think I've proven that the most important component of a pizza is the crust; the toppings just finish it off. The dough was easily teased out to size and shape without tearing.

We had 8 friends for lunch so spent the afternoon making pizza accompanied by fine wines and beer.

pizza crust just inpizza crust just in

Pizza readyPizza ready

ehanner's picture

Great looking Pizza Gavin! I haven't looked at that recipe yet but it sure produced a good looking crust. Thanks for sharing.


SylviaH's picture

 Gavin,  Your pizza looks wonderful.  Your crust has a very nice color. Please send in some pictures of the bottom of your crusts, slice views of the rim and bottom "please"...and oven temp. used...any and all info is greatly appreciated...there is so much involved in making a great pizza...they look simple but they are not by far.  I was very happy see some pizza photos.  Please keep them coming...and not just of pizza everything and anything you make in your pizza oven.  I got my outdoor wood fired pizza oven last christmas and have been really enjoying making pizza.  It's a pretty large interior and I can do several pizza's or I really enjoy cooking veggies and steak or chicken and even in the morning when still hot I have done bread...usually we make the pizza just before dark and it's a little late to do bread for me as it cools down.  I have gotten so into pizza...I really haven't had time to experimanet with my other breads...there's so much involved in learning about the heat of my oven temperatures...But WOW what pizza.  My favorite is New York style.  We really like the thin crusted.  Do you prefer your dough with or without the olive oil?  I prefer with the E.V.O.O. but I like everything about pizza so today Iam preparing a dough without the oil and some with the oil.

My daughter has a fantastic pizza oven outdoor kitchen area...the whole house has been just  completed and moved into...totally over the top!  Anyways, she has these two guy from a New York style pizza resturant come and make pizza's for some large parties and I have been able to learn so much...except I just can't get it flipped into the air..yet! : )...have you tried..being able to do that is going to make a really great crust...I try to handle and shape my crust as fast as possible...these guys can do it in a matter of seconds.  My neighbor, I refer to him as ' Joe The Italian' great also,  he has a pizzeria and a woodfired oven in his backyard too...these ovens are getting so popular.

I could go on and on .... I was just so pleased to see your pizza and woodfired oven.  I haven't sent in pictures...I'm still trying to figure out my digital camera..I'm pretty ignorant when it comes to PC's and camera's..someday soon I hope to send in some photo's.

Pizza is definately all about first the crust being the most important for flavor and so many choices for texture.  I won't make pizza unless I have made my dough at least the night before...I use only oak wood for my pizza as it burns the longest, hottest and cleanest and wonderful for flavor.  What is your favorite wood for pizza?  We are so very lucky to have one of San Diego's largest wood suppliers only a couple of miles away..they have everykind of wood.  

Please keep the photos of your pizza and thanks for telling about how you liked your new crust success. Thank You, 


gavinc's picture

Sylvia – I share your enthusiasm in all things pizza and wood fired ovens. I will take some more pictures next time of the crust and put up here. I know my pizzas are cooked when I can lift one edge and the whole pizza lifts up. I started making pizzas years ago using a clay tile in our gas barbecue with reasonable success, but with the brick oven I have much more space and much higher temperatures which is important.

I have included a picture of my backyard brick oven which I built in 2005 from second hand bricks. The dome is insulated over the top so I can remove the fire and put trays of meat and vegetables. The internal diameter is 1.1 meters so there’s plenty of room. We usually finish off the day with a tray of apple crumble or similar (by that time all the neighbours have joined the festivity!). Pizza days are great fun.

My first attempts at bread were not good as I was too impatient and didn’t wait until the oven had cooled enough. Pizza is best made at around 330 to 350 C, so I have to wait until the oven comes down to 240ish before putting in the bread. It took a few attempts to judge when to put the different types of food in. I’ve also tried chicken with the fire still going and worked fine provided you check it regularly and rotate. Use foil to loosely cover the bird to stop burning.

Perhaps we should start a thread for favourite pizza toppings; although off topic for this site? The Hamelman dough includes olive oil and is what I will do from now. Previously the doughs I made with olive oil were cakey and were described in one book as a “Sicilian” style. The Hamelman dough with olive oil is not cakey at all and is lovely and light and behaves like a pizza crust should.

I’m envious of your daughter’s access to professional pizza guys; I had to read books and scan the internet for tricks.

I’ve not tried oak in the fire; I live in Australia where there’s plenty of red gum and yellow box, both are excellent for clean heat and economical.

Thanks for your response and I look forward to checking out your pictures eventually.



My backyard ovenMy backyard oven

SylviaH's picture

 Your brickoven is beautiful...what talent you proud you should be of such an accomplishment.  My oven was a gift from my daughter.  It was made by FornoBravo and delivered down to me in southern ca./ san diego. for a Christmas present.. It weighed over 1200 lbs. and had to be lifted over the house into the backyard by a hugh sits on the patio and needs to be moved to another spot before finishing with a nice brick/stone design hopefully someday around the platform...meanwhile it's completely useable and I'm having a great time learning alot about woodfired cooking.

 Not to do with pizza or ovens but...I have 2 elderly aunts one uncle and a cousin living in Australia and my other elderly aunt from Las Vegas, NV just returned from a visit there...I have never been.  They are all orginally from England and Ireland...myself being born in Ireland and raised in the States... : ) 

I sure love pizza mostly with all fresh tomatoes from my garden..we are so lucky here ...if it's not grown in our yards you buy fresh just about anything year round at farmer's markets and corner veg/fruit stands.  One thing I have learned less is more when making toppings for your pizza.  Sylvia

fthec's picture

Just thought i'd chime in about gavinc's comment about the best temperature for baking pizza.  He stated that 330-350C is ideal.  I would suggest that it should be at an absolute minimum of 375C (700F).  Temperatures of upwards of 600C are also acceptable as long as the baker recognizes that the dough will be done in a VERY short time span.  For example, the Italian classification of "Pizza Napoletana STG" following the Italian tradition makes the following directive in its guidlines:

 5) Cooking:

"Using a wood or aluminum peel, and a little flour, the pizzaiolo transfers, the pizza using a rotary movement and a quick shake, on to the cooking surface of the oven without disturbing the prepared pizza. The cooking of the "Pizza Napoletana STG" must be done exclusively in a wood fire oven which has reached the cooking temperature of 485C, (905F), which is essential to cook the Pizza Napoletana.

The pizzaiolo should monitor the cooking of the pizza by lifting up its edge. Using a metal peel, the pizzaiolo rotates the pizza, changing the edge that is facing the fire, and taking care to always replace the pizza on the same spot on the cooking surface, to ensure that the pizza does not burn because it is exposed to different temperatures. It is important that the pizza is cooked in uniform manner across its entire circumference.

At the conclusion of the cooking, the pizzaiolo removes the pizza from the oven with a metallic peel, and places it on a flat, dry work surface.

Cooking time should not surpass 60-90 seconds."

Here is a link to the guidelines if anyone is interested:

Typically, New York style pizza is also made at these high temperatures.

Having said that, pizza made in a home oven at barely 550F can be perfectly delicious in its own right.


SylviaH's picture

  I cook my pizza in a very hot oven  700F + , rotating it or it would burn...done in a you say about a minute - or  + ...I'm working on even temp. on the floor.  Every oven really takes practice to see how to regulate the fire's and place them..."I'm getting to know my oven" the problem I'm having is getting the bottom a little to scorched on my pizza.."black spots"...I like them but not to much...I see some people will lift the pizza high in the oven for last second melting cheese, browning of the rim, so the bottom doesn't get to dark....My gauge is not very good but it shows I probably have been making my pizza at well over 800F...I can now pretty much 'feel' the temp. I want...I was told that I could use a screen under the pizza if I thought the floor of the oven was to oven can get upwards to well over 900F.... I think my pizza's will do best at around 750F and up.  I'm still learning to control the size fire I like for a perfect pizza....the site you refer to is where my oven came from and it is a great help.  I place my finished pizza's on a large thick wooden portable butcher block...and not being fancy just for my husband and myself I place a large brown grocery bag over the block..this catches the mess from the pizza and absorbs the steam to keep the crust from getting really works great...if you want it to look a little better cut nice squares from the bags to place the pizza's on...I really dislike a soggy crust.


gavinc's picture

I'm going to measure my ambient temperature as it's got me intrigued now.

gavinc's picture

Franc - Interesting comment. My 350 C tops suggestion for brick ovens is based on temperature taken internally within the bricks and floor. I have two thermocouples buried about 3cm of the brick surfaces. Having said this, I've never read in all my research on this topic that temperatures above 350 C is desirable. My experience is that over 380 C burns the pizza too quickly and does not allow time for the toppings to cook even if they are scant. Perhaps my ambient temperature is closer to what Franc suggests, but I’ve never measured it.

KosherBaker's picture

As you guys make me turn green and blue from envy and drool. I though I'd post a link for you which I'm sure you've already seen. But here goes anyway:

He makes some interesting points on pizza, many of which you guys have already mentioned above in a lot fewer words. :) In the meantime I'll keep experimenting with my gas oven trying to see how high the temp will go at the very top and very bottom and how long the pizza will take. They are so easy to overcook. It's amazing. fthec thanks for the link. This forum is really something special.


P.S. I too would like to see the "crumb" shots of the pizzas you guys make. And if I should stumble accidentally on a good crumb myself I'll be sure to post it in my blog.

gavinc's picture

Thanks for the link. I notice they cook 440 C.

I'll post some pictures of the "crumb" in due course.

SylviaH's picture

When the fire is ready..I move it to the "side" of the oven create the convection type air flow...heating the ceiling and floor...with this hot air pizza top and crust are done at the same times...taking into account that the cheese always does best placed under the toppings..prevents it from over browning..I was just wondering if you move your fires to the side of the oven? 

What I'm trying to say is the air movement can be a different temperature from the temperature coming from the floor/ceiling...this regulates the bottom crust and the toppings all getting done at the same time...the size of the fire at the time the pizza goes in helps to regulate the air temperature once the floor is heated to the desired temperature.  Also the distance placing the pizza from the fire makes a difference how fast the top will cook...  This has been my experience.

gavinc's picture

Yes, I too move the fire around during the heating up process and then to the back left or right. It's also useful in heating up the floor to do this. I start the fire near the front until I get some good coals going and then move to the middle for about an hour; then the back and then let subside to a steady smaller fire near the back left or right.

I agree with you about the cheese on the bottom, it also stops "pizza slide".

I thought you had told me the make of your oven, but I can't find where now. Is your oven barrel or dome shaped? My friend made the barrel shape and loves his as much as I love mine.

I got a really good pizza book about 4 years ago from Amazon called "The Pizza Book" by Evelyne Slomon. Fantastic. It got me started and educated on the "little is more" rule. I didn’t realize there were so many variations.

I'm looking forward to checking the ambient temp in my oven next time, as my pizza's cook in about 2 minutes near the front of the oven. If I put them back too far they burn almost instantly. I wouldn't be surprised it it's up around 400C like Franc suggested.

SylviaH's picture

My oven has the round dome inside with 36" diameter.  There is a chemney in front and when the door is in place the flue is on the outside...for baking...when the door is off the smoke channels up the chemney flue...the door opening is large enough to be able to slide a large pan in...haven't done a turkey yet...heard they are fantastic tasteing. 

The great thing about making spills...cheese stuck on the bottom of the oven or any wood fired ovens are self-cleaning oven...just sweet some hot coals ontop and walla mess gone. 

I bet when you check your oven temp.  it's going to be a lot hotter than what you think...the longer your oven burns the longer the heat holds in it also...what's that saying.  The fire that goes in is the fire you get out...something like that. Sylvia