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Austin’s Alcoholian Posts IPO!

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

Posted by johngl

That’s Improvised Pizza Oven.  I’ll let you all know when I decide to actually go public.


It may look a little weird, but hey, it works great

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

Preparation;
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!

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8 Responses to “Austin’s Alcoholian Posts IPO!”

  1. I have been obsessing over this post since I first read it. Unable to find quarry tiles in my small town, I’m going to use a pizza stone in the electric oven tonight.

    However, your statement, “In your KitchenAid (you have one, right?)…” made me wait for my birthday present, which arrived today and now I have one – right!

    Wish me luck. I’m planning on using your dough recipe slightly modified to include some oregano, basil, and dried tomato seasoning in the dough tonight.

    Next time I’m going to add 4 tbsp of hard butter to the dough right at the end of the kneading process. From my research into the best pie crust (for chicken potpie), I believe the butter will add some flavor and some texture to the pizza crust.

    • johngl says:

      I don’t get what happened to all of the unglazed quarry tile. Five years ago, both Lowes and the orange guys had them (in different sizes!). Now, I can’t even find them locally.

      Watch it with the pizza stone as they crack easily. This is why I switched to tile in the first place.

      Anyway, good luck and let me know how the butter experiment goes. Pie crust and pizza crust are two different animals. Personally, I’d use melted butter in the pizza crust since it isn’t about flakiness as is the pie crust.

      Oh, and congrats on the KitchenAid!

      • It came out great! I really didn’t take enough photos for a blog post, but I’ll put one on my facebook so you can see.

        I followed your recipe adding only a tblsp of butter. It took so long to knead I was afraid it wouldn’t turn out. I did add the herbs I mentioned as well. For a first try I think I did okay – thanks to the great guidance and the new appliance. (grin) I will still be trying a little more butter in the future and will keep you posted.

        I made one other variance, instead of cutting the dough into quarters, I halved it because we like a thicker crest – worked perfect.

        Thanks again!!!

  2. Judy says:

    John, you never cease to amaze me. I don’t make pizza often, but I’ve been experimenting to find the perfect thin crust pizza. Of course, I’m spoiled after living in NJ for 20 years where the pizza is the best. My hubby grew up on deLorenzo’s thin crust pizza. I’ve come pretty close, but your recipe using half AP flour is just different enough that I am going to try it when the weather gets cooler.

    I’ve never heard of pricking the dough before adding sauce. I assume that’s to keep it from rising while it bakes, keeping it thin. You don’t mention where you baked this — on the grilll or in the oven, and at what temps. I’ve found preheating the oven to 500F, then immediately reducing to 425F after pizza goes in gives me best results. What do you do?

    As far as the quarry tiles, I knew about them, but my pizza stone is much more convenient to use, and it was only $9. I would hate to have to add and remove all those tiles each time I baked a pizza. Leaving them in would cause me a ton of inconvenience as I use my oven for other things.

    • johngl says:

      I leave the tiles in my oven all the time. They help keep the oven temps stable and that way, you don’t get those wild swings in temps (in some ovens, it’s as much as 25 degrees). I can’t remember the last time I took them out. They even clean up nicely when on the “self cleaning” cycle.

      Docking (or pricking) the pizza dough keeps those huge air bubbles from forming while it bakes.

      If I am doing pizza in the oven, I have the oven cranked to 500 degrees. The pizzas take exactly 6 minutes.

      Out on the grill, I turn up the heat to max. This gets the makeshift pizza oven up to 600 degrees. The pizzas can take as little as 4 minutes.

      Depending on the amount of toppings you use, the times will vary.

  3. johngl says:

    Very cool. Thanks for the recipe!

    Using the bread/all purpose flour combo was a very recent addition to my base recipe. I think it made the crust crispier.

    I think Charlie still has some tiles in his oven as well :-)

    I had the same problem with more than one pizza until I started using the tiles on the entire lower rack. I can get two small pizzas in there at once now and they cook up just fine.

  4. Beth says:

    John, that looks great! I love homemade pizza and make it at least once a week. I use a no rise pizza dough recipe and use my dough hook in my food processor. I let it rip about 5 minutes in the food processor, adding flour/water as needed. Then I roll it out as soon as it comes out. My kids like a chewy pizza, so I bake their pizza on the pizza pan basically just until the cheese is bubbly. Gross!

    For me and my husband, I roll out our dough, olive oil just the outer crust and prebake the crust at 425 for about 7 minutes on the pizza pan. Then I add all our ingredients, and now that the dough is stiff, I just slide it right onto my oven rack. Cracker thin yummy crust! If I use italian sausage, I just put it raw on top of the cheese in really tiny pieces, and it cooks perfectly every time.

    I have discovered that I can only bake one pizza at a time in my oven for some reason. I have also grilled this same dough, but only have half of the heat on. After the second flip and the ingredients are put on, I move it over to the indirect heat while I start the next pizza so that the cheese gets nice and melty. Grilling it gets a very light texture for some reason!

    I’ll have to try the tiles this weekend though! Thanks!

    Beth
    Charlie’s sister

    2 cups (plus eyeball) all-purpose flour
    1 cup warm water (110 degrees)
    1 package yeast
    1 teaspoon fine sea salt
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 teaspoon brown sugar
    (sometimes I add Italian seasoning to the dough too, but not always).

    Add the olive oil to warm water and mix in yeast and brown sugar. Let it sit rest for five minutes. Meanwhile, add flour and salt to the food processor. Once yeast is ready, dump it in food processor and add enough extra flour/water to get that lovely sheen. Let it run about five minutes, again adding enough flour/water as needed.

    This makes two 14 inch pizza doughs. We like a thin crust!

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