Tupper Lake, November 6, 2012 by Jeff Boucher

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Honey, Is Something Burning?

"Honey, Is Something Burning?" yells the better half from the living room.

"Uh, nothing dear," I holler back from an increasingly smoke filled kitchen as I'm cranking open windows, turning on the bathroom fan and hoping that the shredded mozzarella that hit the oven floor, will extinguish itself before the smoke detectors start beeping.

So here's the scenario.
I'm making pizza.
I'm going for a real thin crust.
I spread the dough as thin as possible onto cornmeal on the peel.
Now, I have been using parchment paper, on the peel, to ease access onto the stone. 
It's pretty much failsafe.
We had a discussion on Slice a while ago about this method.

The results were mixed. The purists said to use flour or cornmeal, while others stated that parchment was a perfectly acceptable means to prevent sticking etc.
Since I had an ample supply of parchment that's what I've been doing, until last night.
My good friend and fellow pizza maker DM Cavanagh got on my case in the talk thread above-His argument being that with practice using flour saves money, as parchment is expensive. I couldn't argue with the economics.

So last night (after running out of parchment paper) I used cornmeal on the peel.
As I said above I wanted a real thin, crisp crust. My spreading/stretching skills are much improved, so while I'm not tossing the dough in the air just yet, I can quickly stretch that dough into a big old disk.
Two problems here, my peel is basically a square, maybe a little rectangular, meant for smaller circular dough shapes.

I got over ambitious and stretched out a big old circle, then made it fit onto the peel. 
That was mistake #1.
The peel in question.
Now I didn't take any pics of the dough on the peel because I didn't think I'd be posting, so let's move along to mistake # 2.
I suppose I could just say I had a moment of geometrical impairedness.
Basically, the pie was bigger than the stone and when I slid it on the stone, the right edge drooped over the side as did the far end, and cheese fell onto the 525 degree oven floor.

Hence the smoke and the better halfs inquiry which makes up this post title.

Well, all's well that ends well.  
The cheese burned up rather quickly after producing a ridiculous amount of smoke, and the kitchen was smoke free in 20 minutes or so after ventilation.

The pizza came out really good, and for the most part, the crust was thin and crisp, except where it bunched up a bit during the transfer.

The pie on the stone.

And cooling.

Lesson learned. Make smaller pies. At least ones that fit the stone.
Measure twice, cut once!

Eat well my friends.


  1. Man, your oven is big enough for a bigger stone! Suggestion: investigate the stones they sell at pottery supply stores - they are a lot cheaper than the stones in cooking stores - and they will never crack or break under heat.

  2. Spot on Doc - Getting a larger stone surface is on the list of things to do.

    Some folks use unglazed tiles from Home Depot also. What I really want is a wood fired oven!

  3. I'm a Home Depot unglazed tile user myself - had the same ones going for the past 10 years or so (they're now black). I had some trouble with the first ones I used; they kept breaking from the heat - but then I tempered the next batch I got - started them off by heating at 300F for 2 hours, raising to 350F for another hour, then 400F for another hour, and finishing off at 450F for the last hour. Haven't even had a chip for 10 years.

    I've got 6, 8" tiles in the oven at all times, and it still has an inch or two around the edges for air flow (important). This allows for a good sized pizza, if not huge - and when I bake on it, I always give it an hour to get really hot.

  4. Hi there Tupper! Just popped over from Doc's blog to see your pizza! Have you come across the gadget called a super peel which works really well for getting that pizza into the oven? I sprinkle fine semolina on the cloth and off the pizza rolls like on ball bearings, I use semolina for most breads just for that purpose. It makes you skid on the floor as well of course, can't win them all :)

  5. Hey Joanna- Haven't seen it-but I'm going to look into it! Thanks!