We get a lot of requests to test drive our wood fired pizza ovens. During each test drive I typically get the fire going and myself and a couple of our staff cook a few pizzas etc. with our visitors. Well in late March I had a different sort of test drive request. A local chef who is also a friend asked if he could test drive one of our wood fired pizza ovens. It’s a pretty normal request so I said “sure, when would you like to try it out?”. We set a date for April 9th.

On April 8th Chef Tolli arrived to drop off a very large table and some ingredients. I was a bit surprised to see 8 pizza doughs, a food processor, a gallon or so of his sauce and large bags of cheese, vegetables, sausage and other ingredients. When I asked him “why so much stuff?” he told me he wanted to cook all afternoon and had asked some of our mutual friends to come and test drive the oven with us.

So on April 9th Chef Tolli commandeered my model B pizza oven for the aftrnoon and it was awesome!

Saturday was a wood fired pizza marathon at our store!

On Saturdays the atmosphere is more relaxed than it is during the week at our store. The 3-5 of us working have a little more fun and often times that fun revolves around cooking in our wood fired oven. This past Saturday was no exception and we decided that it would be pizza day.

I fired up the oven at around 12:30 and it was at 850 degrees really fast. I didn’t time it but it was ready to go when I was done preparing the first pizza.

Our first pizza of the day was a meat lovers. Sausage (Perri sweet sausage), pepperoni and hamburg. This was a warm up run. Unfortunately, we were lacking a pizza peel so we couldn’t cook directly on the stone. That was a little bit of a problem. We were going to run out and buy one but the kitchen equipment store about 6 miles away was closed. So we made due with a cookie sheet.

The warm-up pizza came out and looked really good. We gave it to customers who were meandering around the store/lot. They gave it rave reviews but in my opinion the dough wasn’t cooked enough in the center due to it being on the cookie sheet.

The next pizza was a combo with bell peppers, mushrooms and hamburg.

Just about ready to come out of the oven.

The next pie was a veggie.

Fresh broccoli and green, red and yellow bell peppers.

I like meat on my pizzas but this came out really good. The broccoli was crunchy and the peppers had some snap to them as well.

Tom, our sales manager, wanted to do more of a specialty pizza. He roasted a couple of bell peppers in the pizza oven (no pictures as everyone else was busy with customers). They almost didn’t last for his pizza as a couple of us began taking the skin off of the peppers and the inside was perfectly roasted. Tom intervened and sliced up the peppers and added thinly sliced eggplant and ricotta cheese.

Tom had not cooked a pizza solo yet and he left the pizza dough on the table loaded with the toppings and figured he could just slide it onto the cookie sheet. He didn’t have enough flower on the table and everything stuck. So he made the best of it and slid the toppings off, unstuck the pizza and put it on the cookie sheet. His pizza did not look pretty when it went into the oven.

Again, we were busy when Tom put the pizza in and unfortunately we didn’t get any photos but I did have a piece of it and it was really good.

And the last pizza of the day.

We went with a combo. Mushrooms, bell peppers, hamburg, and tomatoes.  We whipped this up really quick! It’s not the most attractive pizza I’ve ever seen but it tasted great. The edges were a bit crispier than I would have liked due to not turning it enough.

I will definitely be getting a new pizza peel this week.

Making your first Pizza Oven Pizza

I make a fair amount of pizzas. At least 1 day per week I fire up my pizza oven and make one or more (sometimes many more) pizzas.

The following are the simple ingredients and tips to making your first wood fired pizza. Most of these ingredients can be purchased at your local supermarket.

The pizza dough – Fortunately there is a bakery near me and I am able to purchase some really good pizza dough inexpensively not that it is terribly expensive to begin with.  Most supermarkets have frozen pizza dough on hand. Make sure you take it out of the frig a few hours (3-4_ before you will be working with it.

Pizza Sauce - There are several pizza sauces available. I prefer my own but I also like Palmieri pizza sauce. It is made in new Haven, Connecticut (pizza capital of the USA!). Unfortunately, this is available in the Northeast and a few other places only. Ragu pizza quick sauce isn’t too bad as a last resort. I use that from time to time. Also you can opt to use spaghetti sauce or make a white pizza (no sauce just some olive oil and maybe some herbs  like garlic, basil etc).

Cheese 2 cup bag of shredded mozzarella cheese or the cheese of your choice. I usually buy Kraft or Cabot. I like the Cabot better. You can also mix it up with some cheddar or Monterrey Jack.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil – I use Berio.

Corn meal and flour – Any brand is fine.

Making the pie

  1. I usually start my fire before I begin making the pizza. By the time I am done it is usually up to temperature or very close.
  2. Remember the dough must be at room temp. before you begin working with it.
  3. Spread flour on the table so the dough doesn’t stick to the table. Begin pushing on the dough with your hands to form the size pizza you will be making. I will sometimes use a rolling pin but typically I will just use my hands. I like thin crust pizza so I usually keep the crust the same thickness or a little thicker than the rest of the pie.
  4. If you will be placing your pizza on a cookie sheet make sure you put it on the sheet after the dough is rolled out and before you add the sauce/toppings!
  5. Spread a couple of tablespoons of olive oil on the top and bottom of the pizza. Use a basting brush to spread it somewhat evenly.
  6. I use about 4-6 ounces of sauce for a large pizza depending on my mood.
  7. Next I add about 1/2 a bag of Mozzarella cheese. Add more or less depending on your taste. Spread it evenly.
  8. I then add any meat toppings first. When using sausage I break it up into 1/2 inch chunks and spread it in a circular fashion starting at the outside and working towards the center. Once any meat toppings are applied I add vegetables the same way.
  9. If you will be using a pizza peel to place the pizza in the oven be sure to flour it or cornmeal it. I like cornmeal better as I get less “stiction” but I use flour about 50% of the time.
  10. If you will be cooking your pizza on a cookie sheet be sure and flour it.
  11. That’s it! Slide your pizza peel under your pie and put it in the oven!

Clearly, this is a tutorial for new pizza oven owners. I decided to post this when I was remembering my first experience making and cooking a pizza. I didn’t flour the table (I never worked with dough before). I didn’t let the dough sit. I pulled it right out of the fridge and began rolling it out.

Yes I should have taken the 1 minute togoogle “How to make a pizza”.