I truly love a good pizza, but it is a rare event to find one. So, I've long been baking my own pies, at first in a normal oven and later in a special pizza oven. Although the "G3 Ferrari" looks impressive, mine is bright red, it is a decidedly weird machine.
For example, it has four heat levels, 1, 2, 2.5 and 3. One has to wonder how that happened.
I've read with great gusto the wonderful works by Jeffrey Steingarten which cover with great precision how very good food is made, including pizza. Jeffrey's book emphasized the importance of high heat, and even mentions the very same "G3 Ferrari" oven I have.
So, I've been using it to make pizzas of very varying quality - sometimes tremendously good, sometimes less so, and I never knew why. Like many aspiring pizzaiolos, I blamed my flour, and I assumed the professionals were using special brands.
Then I discovered the page of Jeff Varasano, who is a bigger pizza nut than I would've thought possible. It looks like he spent 10+ years figuring out how to do it, and from him I discovered the stunning secret: all pizza recipes I've ever seen in books, or online, are wrong. So, I set out to follow his instructions to the letter, which indeed led to very good and elastic dough.. and still no good pizzas ensued from my oven!
(in brief, any recipe which starts out by lumping all ingredients of the dough together and instruct to after mixing 'let it rest until it has doubled in size' is pretty far removed from reality. For more information, see Jeff's page)
Several months passed, and this weekend I found myself with some time off (since our son Maurits was spending time with his grandparents), and I decided to try again, this time using science.
Recall the Italian pizza oven with heat level '2.5'? It turns out the thermostat of this oven is a lying through its teeth! With the aid of a high-heat thermometer, I discovered the awful truth that the temperature of the oven has very little to do with the settings of the thermostat.
It turns out that the "G3 Ferrari" only reaches the required temperatures (400+C, around 750F) when the grill is red hot and has been on non-stop for quite some time, no matter what the thermostat may say.
So today, using my trusty thermometer, I timed it such that the oven reached this stunning temperature just when my pizza was ready.
And lo, it was wonderful!
To the non-pizza-enthusiast, this may not sound like a big thing - but this is an important step in my ongoing quest: be able to entertain large amounts of guests with mouth watering pizzas.
To be continued...