Pizza Crust III


A Saturday night without guests for dinner offered us a chance to play with our new Breville pizza oven which I wrote about in my post last month. Rather than changing too many variables, I used the same NY Times recipe as I did the first time I used the new “toy.” However, to improve the balance between the crisp and chew factors, I made 10-inch rather than 11- or 12-inch pizzas and adjusted the amount of sauce used.

I found that making smaller pizzas gave me the perfect amount of chew without decreasing the pizzas’ crispness. I cooked one of the pizzas at the highest temperature (the “thin” setting) for 7 minutes and the second on at a slightly lower temperature (closer to the oven’s “medium” setting) for about 10 minutes.

Both pizzas were very good; but, as the second pizza was sauced a tad more heavily and had a longer cooking time, we thought it was better than the first. The extended cooking at a lower temperature allowed the sauce to develop more flavor and the edges to cook a little more evenly.

The second pizza
The second pizza

Some other variations from last month’s pizzas included using smoked mozzarella and topping one of the cooked pizzas with some wild arugula. Using the smoked cheese added a meaty flavor to the pies, which was perfectly complement by the wild arugula topping on the second.

One side note: when we purchased the oven at Williams-Sonoma a couple of weeks ago, it was $149. Last week, it went on sale for $129. We returned to the store with our emailed receipt and without any hassle they refunded the difference.

Wine Pairing: Lambrusco, Chianti

Pizza Crust II


Yes! I admit it. I’m a kitchen gadget addict. It started almost 36 years ago with the purchase of one of the original Cusinarts, back when they were still made in France. I was still in graduate school and had a postage-stamp size kitchen with almost no counter space. But that little wonder enabled me to turn out some pretty sophisticated stuff.

Only a few of the many gadgets and appliances that I have bought over the years rank up there with the Cuisinart, and kitchen space is still at a premium, but my addiction, albeit somewhat in check, still persists. My most recent purchase, Breville’s “Crispy Crust” pizza oven, is a case in point.

The latest gadget
The latest gadget

It started with a promotional e-mail from Williams-Sonoma. The $50 savings made the offer attractive, but I was still skeptical. A visit to the Australian producer’s website provided all the technical specs as well as videos of this appliance in action. But I still wasn’t convinced. Could this little oven deliver the 660° F baking temperature its manufacturer was promising? I still resisted the urge to run out and buy it. But for two days, I kept checking the web for reviews. Sure, I found some negative assessments, but the majority were positive. I was hooked.

So Friday night, we went to our local WS and after a quick demo from the sales associate we bought it. We waited until Saturday to unpack it, found a place for it in our kitchen, and tested it out last night.

This was also an opportunity to try a new pizza-dough recipe that was suggested to me by food writer and fellow blogger Diane Darrow. In a comment to my August 4th post on pizza crust, she said she had achieved “excellent results” from this recipe published in April 2014 in the New York Times.

Based on a recipe from Roberta’s in Brooklyn’s Bushwick section, it’s one of the easiest I’ve ever used. Although it calls for super precise measurements, it requires no stand mixers or food processors. The dough is mixed and kneaded by hand and takes 20 minutes, exclusive of 3 to 4 hours for the dough to rise. It uses both “00” and all-purpose flour, to which I attribute the crust’s perfect balance between its chew and crisp factors.

I’m happy to report that the combination of the new dough recipe and pizza oven yielded my best homemade pizza to date. As the oven only accommodates at most a 12-inch pizza, I chose to make two Margherita pizzas with the dough, each slightly shy of the appliance’s maximum diameter.

I cooked the first pizza, which I had failed to stretch out evenly and was consequently super thin at its center, on the oven’s “thin” setting. In about 7 or 8 minutes, the oven, which had been preheated on high for 30 minutes, turned out a very good pizza. The unevenness of the dough, however, made for some undercooked portions of the crust.

The first attempt
The first attempt

While we dined on the first pizza, I left the oven on so it would be ready to accept my second attempt. This time I was more careful with the stretching and baked the pizza at the high end of the oven’s “medium” setting for about 10 to 11 minutes. This time the pizza was more evenly baked, crisper on the bottom, and had a chewy, slightly blistered crust on the edges. Success!

The second attempt: Success!
The second attempt: Success!

Am I happy with my new gadget? Yes. Although I can’t say for sure that the oven reached the manufacturer’s touted 660°F, I can say that the texture and appearance of the crust, as well as the shorter cooking times, support a claim of attaining a higher temperature than with a standard home oven. I’ll continue to experiment with the new oven’s settings and work on my pie stretching, but at least for now I think I’ll stick with my new recipe for the dough.