One Year of Pizza Making
In November 2021 I bought an Ooni Frya 12 (thanks Black Friday discounts!) and since then I've used it somewhere between 10 and 15 times. Each time I've managed to make something about the pizza better; the sauce, the dough, the topping ratio. Herein lies my notes about making better pizzas.
For all my pizzas, I've used the Ooni classic dough recipe and I'm always aiming for a (sort of) Neapolitan style pizza.
When I bought the oven I also picked up two peels: a wooden one and a metal one. I tend to only use the metal one so the wooden one has just become a standard chopping board. Ooni's accessories are far more expensive than other brands so I picked up a much cheaper dough scraper on Amazon and I plan to get a turning peel at some point but I won't be paying Ooni's price.
My first batch was reasonably tasty but completely misshapen and definitely not thin enough. I figured using a rolling pin would be fine for rolling out the dough but that doesn't really get it thin enough and also removes a lot of the gas that makes a nice fluffy but crunchy crust. Rolling also made the dough stick to the peel and was really difficult to slide it off into the oven, even with a lot of flour underneath.
This video from Ooni helped a lot with working out the stretching technique. I'd also recommend any of Brian Lagerstrom's pizza videos to see how he strengthens the dough before proofing.
I used bread flour I had lying around for the first attempt which I've since found out is not ideal. 00 flour, which is a much finer flour, is far better. I switched to Sainsbury's 00 flour and then recently to Caputo Pizzeria 00. Each time the dough has gotten tastier and much easier to stretch and shape. One other change I've made is better yeast. I previously used Tesco dried yeast but I found this wasn't raising the dough as much as I liked, so I switched to Caputo yeast which has much better results.
I mix everything by hand (if someone wants to buy me a stand mixer I won't say no) in a metal mixing bowl, and use that for the first 2 hour proofing, then transfer the individual balls of dough into these pots, with a bit of oil to stop them from sticking, and leave them to proof for another 2 hours. If I'm making more than I need I freeze after the first proof and get them out 12-24 hours before I need them and defrost in the fridge.
I want my sauce to be as easy as possible to make and after some messing around with different recipes, this is what I've come up with for a tasty but easy-to-make sauce:
- 400g chopped tomatoes or passata
- 100g tomato puree
- 5g garlic powder
- 5g salt
- 5g pepper
- 5g chilli flakes (optional)
This is usually enough for 6-10 pizzas.
My partner is a bit fussier than I am so we've mostly stuck to chicken and ham for toppings but if I have friends round I'll grab some pepperoni or similar from the supermarket. We've used cheap ham if we have it in the fridge and even that tastes great when combined with the sauce and cheese.
Speaking of cheese, because of availability we've mostly used cheddar which has been fine. Recently I picked up some aged mozzarella and used a 50/50 mix of that and cheddar and it tastes fantastic. Galbani Cucina Mozzarella is the only aged mozzarella I've been able to find that is available in UK supermarkets.
Finally some other ingredients I've been enjoying:
- JDs Hot Honey which I pop on right as the pizza comes out the over adds a nice bit of sweet flavour.
- Candied Jalapenos. I've been using these ones from Haynes but I have some fresh jalapenos on the way to attempt to make my own.
- A liberal sprinkle of parmesan (or whatever hard italian cheese I can get my hands on).
@robb have you tried semolina to prevent the dough from sticking?