Friday, August 22, 2008

Brick Oven Pizza - A little flour, a little fire, and a lot of fun!

I can tell you from experience that having a wood-fired brick oven is amazing. It's a culinary event every time you build that wood fire, stoke it all day, and finally slide that pizza off the peel and onto the hot bricks. Before you know it, you're biting into a crisp crust like no other crust you've ever made, and you're hooked! If you love great pizza, building a backyard brick oven of your very own will make you happy, happy, happy every time you make pizza. And don't forget, if you also like to bake artisan breads, you'll have double the fun with a brick oven!

If you love good pizza and want authentic Italian style pizza at home, then you need to use what Italians use to make the crust -- authentic Molino Caputo Tipo "00" flour. This finely milled wheat flour makes a thin, crispy Neopolitan-style crust. The Forno Bravo website offers this imported flour for sale, as well as, information about brick ovens and recipes for pizza from the dough up, if you are truly serious about an authentic pizza experience.

Of course, there are other effective ways to make great pizza at home, giving you complete domain over the ingredients -- like San Marzano tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil and fresh or roasted garlic. Italian flour and good fresh toppings are still the choice for an excellent pizza, but other methods of baking your creation will give you the proper snap, crackle and pull you crave.

A pizza stone produces a delightfully crisp crust. If your oven gets really, really hot (500+ degrees!) then you're in luck. Purchase a pizza stone and lay it on the bottom of the oven while you crank the heat up to inferno. Slide your pizza onto the stone and keep a careful watch -- it will bake really fast! I promise you will be amazed at the results!

If your indoor oven is not up to the challenge, move outside and light up the covered grill. Of course, the pizza stone is also perfect for the grill but, once again, it is also possible to make a great pie on right on the rack. There are pizza stones made expressly for the outdoor grill now, but the same stone you put in your oven will work fine too. Remember, you want the grill to be really, really hot, but no flames please! And you'll need a pizza peel to make the transition from counter to stone to table easier and safer -- that fire is HOT!

One other word of advice -- pre-baking your crust, before adding the toppings, is a little secret to perfect pizza, especially if you like a very thin smattering of toppings. A quick pre-bake will assure you of a cooked-all-the-way-through crispy crust, without incinerating those toppings. Make the dough, shape it, and bake it for a few minutes until it holds its shape. Remove from the oven and hold until time to top and finish baking. My brother, Jeff the Pizza Chef, uses the pre-bake method for both the brick oven and the grill, with perfect results every time! And remember, perfectly round pizza never looks homemade!

Don't you wish you you had one right now? Buon appetito!


Anonymous said...

Way to rub it in our faces that "we" don't have a wood-fired oven!!  Anyhow, I'll take a Margherita, thin crust, and an iced do deliver..right? Ok, enough with the funny stuff. Thought others might like this link I have been looking at for building or adding a brick oven. Enjoy

Anonymous said...

Looks like you guys know what you're doing! Keep at it! Stephen, if you don't have a wood-fired oven you can always get one for a decent price. I've recently got one and love it. Though I'll still order from my local pizzerias mainly because while i'm an enthusiast...I'm no expert.