Why Your Pizza Stone Cracked and How To Prevent It

Why Your Pizza Stone Cracked and How To Prevent It

Hey, we know that many of you still love your familiar pizza stone. Have you ever felt the horror of having it crack while you're cooking up your latest pie? You're not alone. Here's the answer.

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The Secret to Making Round Pizza

The secret to round pizza.
The secret to round pizza.

You already know my secret weapon for homemade pizzas is my Baking Steel. Well, I have another little secret to share. There is a trick to making round pizza and I am going to share it with you.  And you don't need to say abracadabra or tap your magic wand.  You may think it requires years of practice, it doesn't.  Here is the secret, if you want a round pizza start with a round dough. It's that simple.  Why round?  Circles are graceful, they suggest community and perfection.

After my dough has fermented on the counter for 18 hours and I'm not going to use it, I store it in a round plastic cylinder.  Divide and ball your dough into rounds, be sure to pinch the seem and give it a tight seal.  In this case, the pizza dough has been fermenting for 2 days in the fridge. You can find these cylinders in virtually any super market.  I have a stash of these in my cabinets from Glad.  Let me show you my stretching technique, and I would love for you to chime in and let me know if you have a secret to round pizza.

secret to round pizza.
secret to round pizza.
Getting ready to shape.
Getting ready to shape.

Shaping the Dough

The dough should be removed from the refrigerator at least one hour before shaping.  You want to let it rest and come to room temperature.

Take one ball of dough and generously flour it and your hands.  Start by pressing down on the dough and gently pressing this dough out evenly keeping the cylinder shape. Continue this until the dough is about 6 inches in diameter.  Just be careful not to knock all the gas bubbles out.  We like bubbles.

pressing the dough
pressing the dough
lightly press down the dough, careful with the air bubbles.
lightly press down the dough, careful with the air bubbles.
Be careful not to knock out the air bubbles.
Be careful not to knock out the air bubbles.
Pressing the dough softly.
Pressing the dough softly.
Get ready for lift off.
Get ready for lift off.

Next we're going to lift the dough off the work surface and place it on our knuckles.  Once in position, continue to rotate and stretch the dough on the back of your knuckles in one direction.  Pull it wider and wider with each rotation until you reach your desired diameter.  With this size dough (213 grams) that's about 10-11 inches.

dough on the knuckles
dough on the knuckles
Grab the dough and place it on the back of your knuckles.
Grab the dough and place it on the back of your knuckles.
continue rotating.
continue rotating.
Using the back of your knuckles, begin stretching.
Using the back of your knuckles, begin stretching.
Gently begin rotating and stretching the dough with the back of your knuckles.
Gently begin rotating and stretching the dough with the back of your knuckles.
continue stretching, ever so lightly
continue stretching, ever so lightly
continue rotating and stretching
continue rotating and stretching
just about ready for the pizza peel
just about ready for the pizza peel

Now take a lubricated peel, flour, semolina will do the trick and gently place your dough on top.   Your pizza is ready for topping.

-Andris

Follow Baking Steel on PinterestTwitter and Facebook. (And you can follow me on Twitter here.)

Ready to top. I love these tiny air bubbles.
Ready to top. I love these tiny air bubbles.
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Pizza on the Grill

Pizza on the Grill

We are here to answer everyone's questions on how to use the Baking Steel on a gas grill...

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Baking Steel Broiler Technique

Baking Steel Broiler Technique

There are a lot ways to make pizza and in doing so, many different ways to use the Baking SteelLately, I have been using the broiler technique where I convection bake my pizza at 500 F and then switch to broil for the last 1-2 minute. 

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Don’t Throw Away Old Pizza Dough

Don’t Throw Away Old Pizza Dough

Today is National Pizza Day! Unfortunately, I just learned this yesterday.  I had to get in the game, but there was one problem-I hadn’t prepared a fresh batch of dough.  I took a peek in my fridge and found a dough that was dated, 1/24/15.  Doing the math, this was a 15 day old pizza dough.

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Perfect Pizza Using Baking Steel Broiler Method

Perfect Pizza Using Baking Steel Broiler Method

Use the  Baking Steel broiler method to ensure a beautifully charred top crust.

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Take Out: Pizza Dough Please

Do you have a go-to take out pizza dough restaurant in your neighborhood?

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My Favorite Pizza Things

Andris Lagsin's favorite pizza tools

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When do you Cheese your Pizza?

When do you Cheese your Pizza?

When do you cheese your pizza? Do you throw it on top at the start or do you par bake the crust before adding the cheese? Does it make a difference? Let's find out.

The first thought I have when constructing a pizza is what is the cheese melt-a-bility.  Will it brown prematurely?  Creating a beautiful and tasty pizza only to find you have burned the cheese, ouch.

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Cooking with Kenji Lopez-Alt and Joe Gatto

IMG_6064 After recently meeting Chef Joe Gatto, he invited me up to his test kitchen to make some pizzas with the Baking Steel. Chef Gatto is currently working on production of his soon to be released show, From Scratch. He sent me over a copy of the first episode and I can honestly say, I have no doubt that it is going to be huge. Seriously, I've never seen a cooking show like it. He literally does everything from scratch, going as far as milking the cow to churning his own butter. We had such a good time making pizzas that when he called me up and asked me to come back again, there was no way I could say no. Joe told me that Kenji Lopez-Alt, Culinary Director of Serious Eats, was going to be there and that they would be shooting a piece for the show. He told me to make some dough, bring my Baking Steel and to get ready for a good time.

It was a blast. First off, listening to Kenji always amazes me. He is brilliant but somehow makes it all sound so simple. Kenji and Joe filmed a piece on homemade sausage and then the three of us started cranking out some pies. At first, I was a little intimidated having Kenji work with the dough I made, its not every day that you're making pizzas with a James Beard Award nominee but I was put to ease once he gave me the the thumbs up. I don't want to give away too many details, as you will have to wait and watch once From Scratch is released... but wow, hands down the best pizza I've had in a  long time. The way the sausage cooked on the pies was amazing.

 

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Simple Pizza Dough Balls

pizza dough balls. This is a follow up or part 2 of Jim Lahey's no knead with a twist post.  When I am making Jim Lahey's no knead pizza dough (often), I try and make a batch early in the AM prior to heading to the office.  It requires a bit of scheduling, but worth the time in the end.  This is one of my favorites for both its amazing flavor and simplicity. This pizza dough jumps off the Baking Steel. Requires no automated equipment and its a little light on the mess.  Something my wife approves. Here is how I make my pizza dough balls.

Scrape out the dough by hand, its going to be a bit sticky so use some flour.

Scraping out the dough by hand.

 

Get it all out onto your worksurface.

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Divide the pizza dough into 4 equal parts.

measure the dough, I love a digital scale.

Measure into 4 equal parts.  849/4=213

 

4 equal portions.

 

folding

Starting on one side, fold each corner into the center.  4 folds for each portion.

last fold

Shape each portion into a round.

round.

If you are not going to make pizza right away, follow the next steps.

Get 4 of these plastic containers, notice they are round.  More on this later..

my dough storage container, notice it's round.

Grab a little Olive oil and spread around each container.

drizzle a bit of oil

wiping oil

sealed

Store your Jim Lahey No-knead pizza dough for up to 4 days in the refrigerator.  You are ready for action.

-Andris

Follow Baking Steel on PinterestTwitter and Facebook. (And you can follow me on Twitter here.)

Recipe by Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery in New York.  Source: My Pizza by Jim Lahey.

ready for a little more sleep

 

 

 

 

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Prevent Your Pizza Peel from Warping

work is done
work is done

Have you ever had a pizza peel warp on you? You’re not alone. A wooden pizza peel will warp if it comes in contact with water (pizza peel's kryptonite) or encounters a hot surface. While there are many different brands of peels, we love our handmade JK Adams alder wood peel. 

The solution is simple (and cheap!) Applying mineral oil to your peel before using it for the first time will help to prevent any cracking or warping. Just follow these easy steps:

1.  Pour mineral oil on your board and lightly spread it in with a dry cloth. Be generous enough so that the entire peel is able to be covered by the oil.

A dollap of Oil
A dollap of Oil

2.  Let the peel absorb the mineral oil, once the wood dries the peel will be ready for use.

Paint on the oil with a paper towel
Paint on the oil with a paper towel

3. Repeat this process as often as you feel necessary. Take into account how often you use your peel. As a frequent   pizza maker, I typically coat my peel once a month.

In addition to coating your peel with mineral oil there are a few precautions you can take to help preserve your peel. Since water and wood do not mix well, we suggest you use white vinegar (full strength) to clean your peel. The vinegar acts as a disinfectant and will eliminate bacteria such as Salmonella and E. Coli.

If you are reading this AFTER your peel has already warped, try this trick: lay your wooden peel out over night with the warped side facing the down. Placing a heavy object such as a book will help straighten the curve. This should decrease the warping and help bring your pizza peel back to life!

There is no reason a pizza peel should not last you a lifetime. Coat your peel with mineral oil, keep it away from water and high heat, use white vinegar to disinfect it and you will never have to buy another peel again!

-Andris

Follow Baking Steel on PinterestTwitter and Facebook. (And you can follow me on Twitter here.)

this side is complete
this side is complete
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What The Heck Is "Mise En Place"? (Video)

(Please excuse our French.)

Do you have a process when you cook? Or just little quirky things that only you would do? Do you put everything in place before you begin? Leave us a comment and let us know.

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A Terrific Super Simple Pizza Dough Recipe (Video)

If you're looking for a super simple pizza dough recipe, here's your ticket. Watch this.

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The Perfect Breakfast Pizza Recipe (Video)

Pizza for breakfast? Yes, please. This delicious and drop-dead simple recipe makes the perfect morning meal.

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How To Slide Pizza Off The Peel To The Steel (Video)

How To Slide Pizza Off The Peel To The Steel (Video)

Nothing can strike terror into the heart of a home pizza chef like the "launch". Well, dread no more. Watch this.

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How To Make Pizza Dough At Home (Text)

If you're not the video watching kind, we wrote out the instructions for making a delicious pizza dough at home. Read on...

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How To Make Pizza Dough At Home (Video)

As many pizza chefs know, making pizza dough at home is a blast! But it can be a little intimidating if you're just getting started. So, we wanted to make a simple step-by-step video to show how we like to make our pizza dough at home. Take a look, and throw in your $.02.

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