Posted by johngl
That’s Improvised Pizza Oven. I’ll let you all know when I decide to actually go public.
If you join me on this escapade, you will not only learn how I improvised this non-explosive device, but you might also get some ideas for pizzas of your own.
So, now that you’re here, I’d first like to thank you for coming along.
Being the anal retentive cook that I am, I keep unglazed quarry tile in my oven at all times (they help to even out the temp fluctuations in poorly built ovens). Experimenting with pizzas also led me to buy another set of quarry tile for that big honkin’ stainless steel grill I have in my back yard. And I also have a “traveling” set that I take with me on cooking expeditions to other folks houses.
Quarry tile are way cheaper than those so-called pizza stones and do exactly the same thing. The 8″x8″ tiles run about $0.60 each and I have six in my oven. I used 6″x6″ ones on the grill because they fit better– there’s nine out there.
So anyway, away we go…
The 6″ x 6″ tiles make up the base. Those half-bricks are about $0.38 each at our local Lowe’s — I picked up sixteen of them this morning. I then raided my oven and grabbed one of the racks:
I laid three of my 8″x8″ guys across the back.
This is all about thermal mass. More is better. The tile absorbs the heat and evenly distributes it across the pizza. Really. I wouldn’t kid you.
Now, all that we need is pizza!
Here is my favorite pizza dough recipe:
1 package active dry or fresh yeast
1 teaspoon honey or agave nectar
3/4 cup warm water (105 – 115 degrees F)
2-3/4 cups flour (evenly split with bread and all purpose)
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and agave nectar in 1/4 cup of warm water.
In your KitchenAid (you have one, right?) fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour and the salt. Add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and when absorbed, scrape in the now bubbling yeast. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of water and knead on low speed about 5 minutes.
This was looking a bit dry, so I added a couple of tablespoons of water. Suddenly it all came together. Don’t make your dough too wet.
Drop the dough ball onto your cutting board and knead it by hand for 2 or 3 minutes. It’s a great workout. The dough should be smooth and firm. Let rise in a warm spot, covered with a damp towel, for about 30 minutes. An hour is better.
Divide the dough into quarters.
Work each section into a ball by pulling down the sides and tucking under the bottom of the ball. Repeat 4 or 5 times. Roll the ball under the palm of your hand until the dough is smooth and firm. Cover with a damp towel and let them rest at least 20 minutes.
Now, it’s time for making pizza! On a floured board, roll out one of the dough balls.
Move the now flattened dough over to a floured pizza peel. If you don’t have one of these, you’re screwed. Well, okay, you’re not, so use the bottom of a sheet pan instead. You won’t look as cool, but it gets the job done.
Note that pepperoni. I usually microwave it for about 15-30 seconds, just to get some of the extra fat out of it. I hate greasy pizza. I also pre-cooked the Italian sausage for the same reason.
If you have a pie dough docker, use it on the pizza dough. If not, use a fork instead. It should look like this when you’re done:
Now, add your pizza sauce. This was home-made (tomatoes, onion, garlic, basil, oregano, and a pinch of salt), but canned or jarred sauces will work as well. A couple of tablespoons is all that you will need.
And then some cheese, and some toppings…
and more cheese. Now this is a pepperoni and Italian sausage pizza.
Then, into the IPO it goes…
A mere 6 minutes later:
This worked out so well, I did another one. This time, Canadian bacon:
M-m-mm. That cracker crisp crust; that slightly smokey taste. Awesome.
We paired these pizzas with some Italian wine, in this case a 2004 Argiolas Costera Isola Dei Nuraghi ($12).
I think I’ll be getting a lot of mileage out of this improvised pizza oven. And if you happen to have a stainless steel grill and an extra $20 for tiles and bricks, you can have your own IPO!