Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Pizza: One Step Back

Prince CuddleBunny was sick on New Year's Day and a few days preceding.  He had a sore throat, cough, headache, and fever.  No upset tummy, but no appetite, either.  So I was happy when he was finally hungry, and wanted to make him whatever sounded good...


I had dough made, of course, since I always replenish my dough bucket the same night I use any.  But he was hungry "NOW," and with heating the oven and heavy stone, pizza is not really a "now" meal.

So I thought a bit, and decided to go back a ways, to before I'd ever heard of pizza stones, and use a cookie sheet at 425 degrees, like my mom did when I was a kid.    The oven was preheated by the time I spread the dough and topped it, so no extra waiting, like with the stone, which takes about an hour to heat.

Last Friday's version of the cookie-sheet pizza:
round and on parchment, so I could make our usual 5 pies.
I slid these onto the hot cookie sheet, using the pizza peel.

I had one of the blue pan-racks already in the oven cavity, so that's what I used as a rack, in the bottom position, and just put the cookie sheet on that.  I used the Bake mode, so it only heated from the bottom.  After all, that's the only option we had when I was a kid!

The pizza came out great in about under 20 minutes.  The top was nicely browned and the crust was crispy and brown, too!  A result I've been fighting and fighting to achieve on the expensive integrated Gaggenau pizza stone.  I'm happy to have found this method, but still frustrated that something made especially to do this job, and was so expensive, just doesn't come through.
This one, I put directly on the blue pan, without the
cookie sheet in between.  The crust got a little too dark.
--But still preferable to too pale and limp.

A couple of Kitchen forum friends have suggested trying a Baking Steel. Sur la Table offers one (14" x 13") that's available on Amazon, which is made in USA by Stoughton Steel, the same as the original Baking Steel (14" x 16") offered here.  The basic model is a 1/4 inch thick piece of steel, used similarly to, but instead of a stone, and from reading the reviews (here... and here), sounds amazing.  I have a decent result with the cookie sheet, but it sounds like the baking steel will allow me to go back to the high heat, quick-turnaround, great-every-time type of pizza baking I'd gotten used to in my Wolf oven.  It will just barely fit in my silly, shallow oven, and at almost $80, the price tag is slowing me down a bit.  But I think that, eventually, --and probably sooner rather than later, because I'm impatient-- I'll have to give it a try.

Did you notice the cutting board in the last couple of pics?  That's my beautiful Christmas gift from Prince CuddleBunny.  He enlisted his dad's help and made me this beautiful pizza board... 14" in diameter by 2" thick.  I love it!!

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