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#21 sfspanky

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Posted 17 April 2006 - 01:43 PM

"With greater heat mass, we get a lot of the baking characteristics of a higher temp oven. Don't ask me why."

The conduction through the hearth has a lot to do with how fast the pizza bakes. But you need the balance of the radiation from the dome/top of oven to get the overall perfect pizza.

" some Italians told me they were burned."

Yeah, there is a point when too much char is detracting from the overall experience. Some want a lot of it and some don't want it at all. It is a personal thing, but the only complaints that I have received are from those that have never experienced real pizza before. We through away a lot of pizza....er, we give the staff a lot of burnt pizza that has gone too far.
Brian Spangler
Apizza Scholls

#22 kforkish

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Posted 17 April 2006 - 01:46 PM

Brian - to answer your question about type of oven, we are building a Panyol oven. It's from a clay mine in SE Provence. Similar in size to the oven at Nostrana, I think. It will have a 6' diameter hearth. It's on the floor at the pizzeria now, in about a hundred very heavy pieces that fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. The oven is being built this week and next!

#23 Nostrana

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Posted 17 April 2006 - 01:46 PM



I have to have char, but it is hard to put a percentage on it. Yes, I like the char all the way around, but I won't sacrifice the integrity of a single pizza just to get the amount of char that I like to see. We will through the pizza into a reserved spot in the oven that is used to just add a little more char based upon where the sauce and cheese are in the baking process.

I think the char issue is interesting. When we opened Nostrana we had our oven at 800 degrees and the pizzas were quite charred and some Italians told me they were burned. Now we operate at about 700 and the pizzas I believe are better. If there is too much char it makes it impossible to taste the sweet wheat flavor and other ingredients. I am excited to try Ken's pizza in a wood oven. Brian's pizza reminds me of my favorite place in NY, John's on Bleeker.



Hi Cathy! Have you found differences in baking your pies with different kinds of wood in the oven?

Yes we struggle with the wood every time we get a new delivery. The most controllable and even heat seems to come from a mix of small oak logs, cherry and apple. That way we seem to be able to keep the pizzas cooking quickly and the oven stays hot. If the oak percentage is too high we struggle because the oak takes a while to catch and then burns too hot.
I tried to experiment with little bundles of fruit and nut woods, but I'm not covinced it adds that much flavor.

#24 sfspanky

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Posted 17 April 2006 - 01:48 PM

"Have you found differences in baking your pies with different kinds of wood in the oven?"

Even though this was directed at Cathy, the first 3 years of experimentation were in my brick oven at Olive Mtn. I did not notice any flavor differences, because at the temps that I was baking at (800 +) I was reaching full combustion. At full combustion there is no smoke and extremely minute emissions. I did notice differences in wood as far has heating goes, but the best was Oak, as you did not have to add logs as often and it would burn slow and hot.
Brian Spangler
Apizza Scholls

#25 Nostrana

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Posted 17 April 2006 - 01:50 PM

Brian - to answer your question about type of oven, we are building a Panyol oven. It's from a clay mine in SE Provence. Similar in size to the oven at Nostrana, I think. It will have a 6' diameter hearth. It's on the floor at the pizzeria now, in about a hundred very heavy pieces that fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. The oven is being built this week and next!

It is interesting your oven is from Provence. A lot of bakers I respect say the best pizzas are from Nice or around there. I was talking to a pizzaiolo last night, from Naples, and he said that natural starters made a lighter, more digestible pizza and commercial yeasts made a heavier pizza.

#26 sfspanky

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Posted 17 April 2006 - 01:52 PM

Ken,

I know the manufacturers as I helped them on a demo of constructing one of their ovens in Anaheim, CA. It was an event that I coordinated for BBGA.

You must be getting this from Albie Barden or Michael Suas.

I just made pizzas in the SFBI Panyol last October during Camp Bread. I liked the oven, but Albie would not allow me to get it hotter, so I wasn't wowed with the final results.
Brian Spangler
Apizza Scholls

#27 sfspanky

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Posted 17 April 2006 - 01:54 PM

Cathy,

Yeah, when you add the oak, you have to wait for it to catch as all the energy is going to igniting the wood. The temperature in the oven will actually drop during this time.
Brian Spangler
Apizza Scholls

#28 Nostrana

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Posted 17 April 2006 - 01:54 PM


Brian - to answer your question about type of oven, we are building a Panyol oven. It's from a clay mine in SE Provence. Similar in size to the oven at Nostrana, I think. It will have a 6' diameter hearth. It's on the floor at the pizzeria now, in about a hundred very heavy pieces that fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. The oven is being built this week and next!

It is interesting your oven is from Provence. A lot of bakers I respect say the best pizzas are from Nice or around there. I was talking to a pizzaiolo last night, from Naples, and he said that natural starters made a lighter, more digestible pizza and commercial yeasts made a heavier pizza.

I know that Brian would agree because we have talked about it, but everyday seems like an entirely new day in how the dough reacts. I am not a baker enough to know if it is the weather or the sourdough starter., but consistency is a real struggle. I am excited we have a real baker, Giana Bernardini making our bread in the wood oven now, so I have someone to talk to on a regular basis about the pizza.

#29 kforkish

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Posted 17 April 2006 - 01:56 PM

I was talking to a pizzaiolo last night, from Naples, and he said that natural starters made a lighter, more digestible pizza and commercial yeasts made a heavier pizza.


Cathy you're using a levain starter aren't you? The comment from the pizzaiolo you spoke with is interesting: in bread baking it's the reverse; that is, lighter texture with commercial yeasted doughs and heavier with levain doughs. Old wisdom concurs on digestibility from levain breads.

On the subject of fermentation, I think we all use a fair amount of pre-fermented dough in our pizza doughs, whether it's dough reserved from the previous batch (Brian is this you?), or a sponge mixed specifically for the dough (we make a poolish for our pizza dough), or a levain starter.

#30 Nostrana

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Posted 17 April 2006 - 01:56 PM

Cathy,

Yeah, when you add the oak, you have to wait for it to catch as all the energy is going to igniting the wood. The temperature in the oven will actually drop during this time.

That makes sense. BTW Brian I miss you too.

#31 sfspanky

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Posted 17 April 2006 - 01:59 PM

Cathy,

Yes... the daily dough challange. Even the most experieced baker will get blind-sided.
Brian Spangler
Apizza Scholls

#32 Nostrana

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Posted 17 April 2006 - 01:59 PM

I was talking to a pizzaiolo last night, from Naples, and he said that natural starters made a lighter, more digestible pizza and commercial yeasts made a heavier pizza.


Cathy you're using a levain starter aren't you? The comment from the pizzaiolo you spoke with is interesting: in bread baking it's the reverse; that is, lighter texture with commercial yeasted doughs and heavier with levain doughs. Old wisdom concurs on digestibility from levain breads.

On the subject of fermentation, I think we all use a fair amount of pre-fermented dough in our pizza doughs, whether it's dough reserved from the previous batch (Brian is this you?), or a sponge mixed specifically for the dough (we make a poolish for our pizza dough), or a levain starter.


Yes we do use a levain but it is a really small percentage compared to most bread recipes I have seen. Maybe that is why it is the opposite of bread.

#33 kforkish

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Posted 17 April 2006 - 01:59 PM

I just made pizzas in the SFBI Panyol last October during Camp Bread. I liked the oven, but Albie would not allow me to get it hotter, so I wasn't wowed with the final results.


My oven was on Michel's shelf at SFBI. We test-baked in the same oven you did. Albie wasn't there, but Michel almost freaked when he saw the size of the fire we built as we were bringing the oven up to temp the night before! We baked at a little over 700F when we test-baked and liked the results a lot. At my new place up here, of course, there will be a lot of fiddling around as we learn how to fire to get the best results.

#34 ExtraMSG

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Posted 17 April 2006 - 02:00 PM

I'm glad you're discussing dough/crust, because that's the starkest contrast between what you three are doing and what the slice places are doing, imo. I hope you'll talk more broadly about what you're doing differently from each other on the dough, too. I know Brian, eg, mentioned in his introduction that he uses a low protein flour with as little yeast as possible and a long, slow rise.

The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole

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Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#35 sfspanky

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Posted 17 April 2006 - 02:00 PM

Ken,

No, I do not use an "old dough" formula. I use a poolish just like yourself.
Brian Spangler
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#36 kforkish

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Posted 17 April 2006 - 02:06 PM

Cathy,

Yes... the daily dough challange. Even the most experieced baker will get blind-sided.


At the bakery, we always have to adjust to changes in new lots of flour. Adjustments usually involve more or less water in the dough and more or less yeast. Sometimes we have to adjust baking temperature too, and then we get flour that gives crust differently from the previous batch. We use Cook Natural Products organic flour (their All Winter), and get 3 - 4 weeks for each lot, or milling, and then we get new flour and it takes a day or two of working with it to get the adjustments in.

Cathy, I don't know if you are experiencing the phenomenon I experienced at the bakery when we opened. The room was sterile; that is there was no flora in the air to aid fermentation. As time progressed and we had been making doughs for awhile (a few months) I could use less and less yeast, and I also had to change the way we managed our levain. I expect a similar phase at my new place.

#37 kforkish

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Posted 17 April 2006 - 02:07 PM

Ken,

No, I do not use an "old dough" formula. I use a poolish just like yourself.


Oops! Sorry to make the assumption. I think I read that somewhere. We work with a poolish because it gives the crispness to the crust that we are going for.

#38 sfspanky

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Posted 17 April 2006 - 02:08 PM

Nick,

I have experimented with at least 15 different formulas before deciding upon the one that we use at Apizza. The levain method (sourdough) gave me too much chew for what I was looking for. I have tried using high gluten, which is the standard for American pizzerias, even the classic coal oven pizzas that were my inspiration, but again, I found too much chew detracted from the overall balance. I use low gluten winter wheat flour as it has better texture components as well as better fermentation tolerence. My dough is very wet, which makes it very difficult to work with if enough acidity has not been developed, but that is why we use a 14 hour poolish in the final dough. The acidity will not only bring flavor, but also tenacidy (sp?), so the dough is not too extensible, which helps in the stretching process. The acidity also allows the dough to crisp up enough in the final bake so you get the full spectrum of texture without too much of any one aspect.
Brian Spangler
Apizza Scholls

#39 sfspanky

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Posted 17 April 2006 - 02:11 PM

Ken,

I think you are thinking of Anthony Mangieri or Chris Bianco. Both use the old dough method.
Brian Spangler
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#40 kforkish

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Posted 17 April 2006 - 02:14 PM

Brian and Cathy: I was in Rome in January and ate several pizzas, although I'm nor certain I hit the best places. While I generally enjoyed them, I found the sauce to be a little on the bland side for my palate. What's your target for the perfect sauce for your pizzas?