a simple crusty white, revisited

The learning curve on my flatbreads has flattened out; I'm giddy with my results.  They've become a regular accompaniment to our Indian fare and Frankie's lunches.  Whenever I spin off into a niche, I inevitably learn a new albeit subtle technique and am able to apply it to other areas, parlaying a history of nifty personal tricks.

What I learned most recently is the value of baking on a cast iron surface while using my 15" diameter low ridge cast

iron pan (Amazon).  It lives in my oven now.  The color and weight of a bake surface has a profound effect on a baked good.  Generally the darker the surface, the darker the bread - unless, I learned, it's high enough in the oven.  So, my pan is positioned in the middle of the oven to prevent overly dark bottoms.  Additionally, I learned to value how much heat is stored in that heavy mass.  I can cook pita / naan with only the broiler on.  The bottom of the bread browns from the residual heat of the steel and the top cooks via the top element, it's a nice combination.  I've used this set up for pizza too.  This heat capacity also translates to a vicious capacity to transform water to steam, more on this later.

With that in mind, I meandered back into the crusty, lean, free form loaf.  I've always admired the gods of slack doughs and natural starters - alas, that is not me.  I've dabbled many times unsuccessfully in this area and failed.  My bread today is a simple straight dough (entire dough mixed at once) but reasonably high hydration, low yeast loading and long retarded rise.  Gods of bread, kill me, I'm a commercial yeast guy.  Also, I'm not a fan of cooking in preheated cast iron, it's a great trick, but a little risky for a clutz like me and shape-limiting.

Today's loaf was mixed from unbleached white (Montana Sapphire, 360 g), atta flour (an Indian whole wheat, commonly available from local stores, 40 g), water (300-310 g, ca. 75% hydration), yeast (Fleischmann's instant active, 1/2 t), salt (7 g).  I've found that 10% or so of whole wheat and its ability to absorb more water, makes a high hydration dough more manageable.

I mixed with a wooden spoon, then used my wet hand to squish it around.  I did a few turn and folds for the first hour at room temp.  A few more turn and folds and let it rise about 6 hours.  Another turn and fold, bench rested for a 20 min or so (dog walk), loaf formation into a boule,  placed it in a banneton, placed the banneton in a plastic bag and tossed it in the fridge overnight (ca. 8 hours).  Removed it,  let it warm and finish the proof about 2-3 hours.

Baking.  Oven preheated with the cast iron in there at 500F for an hour (your oven needs to be clean to sit at 500F empty).  I dusted the proofed loaf with atta, inverted it onto a peel, slashed the top and slid it on the cast iron.  Then I opened the door and misted the crap out of the oven using a hand pumped water sprayer (from Lowe's).  I sprayed the walls and the actual cast iron the bread sat on.  I repeated this a few times for the first 10 minutes of baking.  Then turned the oven to 425 and let it go for 30 minutes.  The loaf came out and the crust slightly fractured on cooling (the singing).  Not a lot, but it happened.  The fractured crust means a lot to me.

That's it
i. tightened up the dough with a small addition of wheat
ii. long slow rise
iii. baked on cast iron with steam at 2 temps
It's a keeper.


some bean tips

I've been preoccupied with cooking legumes for about the past year.  Fortuitously, in the middle of that period, I got to spend a couple weeks in Bangalore eating lots of beans.  I left there with wonderful memories of my favorite bean dish, dal mahkani, a spiced butttery, tomatoey mix of urad dal and kidney beans.  Drawers in our kitchen now overflow with masoor dal, lentils, kidney beans, navy beans, black and white chana, black eyed peas, black beans, etc.  Beans are a big part of our diet. 

This exploration into beans started when Indian coworkers tried to impress upon me the importance of a pressure cooker.  After some practice with one (I use a Faygor 8 qt stainless steel) I realized there is a loooong way to go between the doneness of a canned bean and overcooking to mush.  Canned beans are ok, I used to be a big fan of Bush's.  But a truly silky smooth bean needs a lot of extra cooking.

Here's my tips on beans:

1. My favorite weeknight method: Pressure cooker, most beans about 8 minutes, lentils less.  I use 720 g water (3C) / 200 g beans (1C, unsoaked, I almost always forget to soak beans) and about 10 g salt, often I use a source of pork too, most of the time just a slice of bacon.
2. I fully cook beans before other ingredients are added.  
3. I also slow cook beans, but NOT in a slow cooker.  I never have luck with a slow cooker, chalky.  Instead my slow cooker is the oven.  In a tightly covered cast iron dutch oven, I use beans, water, salt and a source of fat, often a few strips of bacon and bake at 220F for 3-4 hours.  Beans this way are sublime, perfectly smooth.  I've done black eyed peas and navy this way.  I've even cooked pulled pork on top of beans.  Also pretty perfect.
4. Chickpeas are bullet proof.  I see no other way than a pressure cooker, high setting, a good 30 minutes for a properly done chickpea (then conversion to chana masala is easy).  The outer skin may burst, but still need to taste to know if it's done.

Here's some recent oven preps:

Here's navy beans in water with some bacon.  Heated in tightly covered cast iron.
After 4h, the beans are perfectly tender.  I added molasses, mustard, brown sugar and some ketchup for perfect baked beans.

Here's a pork shoulder with salt and pepper on a mound of black eyed peas.  The meat to bean ratio was kind of ridiculous, but anyway, in the oven at 325F.

Affter about 4 hours, the beans were perfect and meat fell apart.  We piled this on crisped tortillas for a kind of nachos meal.



As far as I've read or experienced, I don't know the difference between naan and pita bread.  Regarding ingredients, they are both enriched, leavened (w yeast) flat breads.  The enrichment is often milk, butter and/or yogurt (@CocktailStat even uses sour cream!) and sweetener honey or sugar.  Regarding method, pita is often baked while naan is supposed to be made in a tandoor oven.   The other significant difference is in form, pita is thicker and naan often much thinner so as to use as a flexible scoop for food.

I've posted on this type of flatbread a million times - I love them because they're tasty and fast to make, no need to warm up the refrigerated dough.  I've done them on the stove top, and again on the stove top, and baked them in a ridiculous oven I made.  Some I've started on the stove top and then tossed them in the broiler to finish.  These methods aren't bad, but I wanted something better, better color and texture, faster bake on the outside to leave the middle super soft and tender.

Having studied a few diy tandoor ovens on YouTube, I identified the tandoor's critical components: a super hot surface with high contact to the dough and an exposed heat source that sears the other side of the dough.  The broiler!  I placed a 15" diameter cast iron pan on the middle rack, and heated the oven to 550F on broiler setting - this means only the top element is on.  Your oven must be damn clean to do this.  With the cast iron in place - I did many, many trials.

1. Dough made of milk 180 g (3/4 C), yogurt 20 g (1 T), butter 12 g (1 T), sugar 10 g (2 t), salt 5 g (1 t), Fleischmann's instant active 3 g (1 t), unbleached white flour (Montana Sapphire or Gold Medal unbleached white) 300 g (2 C + 2 T).  Mixed/kneaded in a bread machine and left in fridge overnight.

I rolled a 50 gram piece to a 6" diameter, let it rest a few minutes and tossed it on the cast iron.

Bubbled within a few seconds.
 The dark side was on the surface, the other side only a few flecks of brown.
 Thin delicate layers.

2. You can roll it too thin.  I rolled a 50 g piece to a 10" diameter and made a cracker.

I also placed the pan as close as possible to the broiler element; it wasn't all that different than baked mid oven.  So the top element preheats the pan enabling a nice browning of the bottom, then the top gets browned, albeit with a little lag.  Not sure how to remedy that.  Still some work to do.

So, this method is a single toss on the hot surface, remove and done, about a minute per bread.  And for the small ones, I can make a bunch at a time with the big cast iron surface.

I did chapathi on here too, but ate it too fast for a pic.  Chapathi dough is atta flour 100 g, water 60 g, salt 1.5 g - that's it.  They are wonderful cooked like this.  Better than stove top.  Pics later.

I think this method is also amenable to cracker thin pizza and crackers, there are a lot of variations in ingredients and forms to try.  If you don't have the cast iron disc, try a dark enamel on steel sheet.  Enjoy.


pizza, with crackly crust

Past couple weeks we've had the occasion to eat pizza at Tommy's Pizza and Subs on OSU's campus.  It's an interesting pizza, super thin crackly crust with layers of crackly goodness.  I think it's similar to Rubino's and Clintonville Pizza (some time ago, recently CP changed and their pizza is awful).  We observed, in the basement of Tommy's is a sheeter, I've also seen one in Cville Pizza, so I figured this had something to do with the texture of the crust.

If one searches for this crust style using terms like "thin," "crackly," etc. results are filled with various dough formulations that fall short.  There's more to it than thin.  I can roll a dough extremely thin, but then there's no life to it, it turns into a soft dead crust, no bubbles, no nothing.  There's crispiness and sometimes layers of crispiness.  Recalling my experience with dough for biscuits, if I fold it a couple times and bake I get a pretty good set of layers and some crispiness.  In an unlikely attempt, I tossed together a quick dough from quick rise flour, leavening from baking powder only - no yeast, tried to fold it, rolled it out thin - very hard to work with, it produced a terrible kind of cookie pizza crust.  It was pretty disgusting.

When I incorporated the word laminated into my search, several posts from pizzamaking.org popped up and the problem had been addressed.  Little did I know that laminating was not only a technique for croissants, but for lean doughs as well.  I recently read of a lamination procedure used on a relatively lean dough when reading about paratha vs naan, so it's definitely nothing new, but it was to me.  And what a great application of a powerful technique!

I happened to have some dough in the fridge, 2 days old.  I made it for my crusty mini banh mi rolls.  The dough consists of Gold Medal unbleached white flour 250 g, water 150 g, Fleischmann's instant active yeast 3g, salt 4g, crisco 4 g, just mix and knead and toss in fridge.
 Started with 124 g.

Rolled it out to a rectangle of about 12" x 9" and folded it in thirds.  This is a pretty dry dough and rolls easily.  I kept dusting it with flour.

Rolled it out thin and folded it into thirds again.  If this were croissants, this would be called the second turn.

Then I rolled it to a 10" x 10" square, the thickness can then be given by a density: 1.25 g dough/sq inch.  This derived quantity is a better way to accurately describe thickness than trying to describe the actual thickness of the dough.  This compares to my usual of 220 g per 90 sq in round pie (11" diameter) or 2.4 g dough/sq in.

When I get a pizza idea but have no tomatoes on hand, I often just make a mush of olive oil and tomato paste and use that for my first coat, it's pretty nice.  Then I added mozz, oregano, olive oil, salt and coarse pepper.  The black enamel on steel sheet was coated with some oil and placed in a 500F oven, slightly above half way in the oven, to bake for about 15 minutes.  I did NOT dock the surface as is normally done with cracker crusts, I prefer the bubbles.

Boom! Lots of bubbles, super thin crisp crust.  As it cooled it became a little more crisp.

Appetizer time!


popovers (yet again)

Popovers - 3 ingredients (not including salt).  This is a food challenge I dream of.  Last time I spun out of control in pursuit of this ethereal delicacy it was for a friendsgiving in 2012.  Despite some good batches, I still realized too much of the dreaded post bake popover collapse.

I was inspired to resurrect this battle after an episode of @GuyFieri's TripleD (I happen to be Guy's only fan in the world, I watch marathon sessions of TripleD Friday nights).  A cook in a diner made gruyere and pepper popovers that looked fantastic and demonstrated a prep in which I gleaned some key information.  
  • Ingredients - (good consensus) eggs 100 g, flour 135 g, milk 120 g, salt 3 g, mix, lumps allowed. This produces a pourable batter.  I placed my ingredients in a used water bottle and shook it to mix.  This diner chef stated all ingredients need to be at room temperature.  This is what I thought might be 1 key piece of information.  Given that eggs and milk are stored in the fridge, I wondered if past attempts utilized a room temp batter.  This time, I mixed the batter and decided to wait until it was at room temp, hours if necessary - I figured the worst that could happen is it could start to ferment and/or I'd get nil rise.
  • Pan - popover pan, I use this one - same as the one in TripleD.
  • Preheating - preheat pan to baking temp, 375F. 
  • Lube - The chef on TripleD spray-lubed the preheated pan.  I added a tablespoon of vegetable oil into the bottom of each cup prior to adding the batter.
  • Baking - Removed preheated pan from the oven, lubed each cup and poured in batter.  I noticed the diner chef took her time, filled each cup with batter and then added a few chunks of cheese to the top of the batter followed by cracked pepper.  I was surprised there was no rush to get the hot pan back in the oven.  I did the same, pouring the batter into the middle of the pool of vegetable oil in the bottom of each cup (this oils the cup as it fills with batter).  I only made 3 at a time and used a tablespoon of reggiano instead of gruyere and a bunch of coarse cracked pepper (crushed on my cutting board).  I took my time and placed the filled pan back in the 375F oven.
  • Baking time - 45 minutes to an hour!!  I can't recall seeing any temp/time profile like this, I figured they'd burn.  But no, both runs went well.  
That's it!  Mix ingredients, shake well, let batter sit at least until it hits room temp - I used mine with good results at 3 hours and 9 hours aged.  Pour into prepared pan (preheated to 375) to fill cups to 3/4 full, top (or not) with cheese, bake in 375F oven for 50 minutes.  Remove from oven, gently pull them out of their baking cups, eat immediately.

Added all ingredients using a funnel to this 1L HDPE bottle and shook it vigorously.

After 375 for 50 minutes.  These were the parmesan/pepper popovers.  Added ingredients become embedded into the surface of the popped cap of the popover.  

Characteristic steamy light interior, exterior firm, slightly crunchy/crisp.  These were made with the batter aged at 3 hours.

Eventually, at 9 hours aged, my batter started to look separated and runny.  I decided to try it anyway, preheated the pan and prepared for another run.  I filled the popover cups and topped them with some finely diced apples I sauteed in butter and sugar.  The popovers were just as lofty as before and didn't collapse a bit upon exit from the oven.  

I consider popovers a finished project and now look forward to building different fillings into them, e.g., pour batter, add topping, pour more batter, bake and see if I can get the filling tucked inside rather than embedded on top.  Maybe I'll even tuck a meatball inside - but I fear the results.  If it works I might die from euphoria.  I might wait for that one.

Buy a popover pan and make these.  

/drops mic


south indian food notes

Having settled down a bit from my trip to Bangalore, I have some notes, things I wanted to remember.  It wasn't a food adventure, but I did get to taste enough to get a good sense of southern Indian food.  And, it was amazing.  I had one chicken dish and one merguez appetizer and that's it for meat for two weeks.  I never yearned for meat though, too satisfying.  Given that I was there with a specific purpose that was not pleasure, I was dedicated, above all else, to staying healthy, so very little produce either.  Still, not disappointed at all.

1. Dal.  Pretty much any bean and sauce dish eaten with flatbread.  I was astounded at the diversity of legumes used for dal preparations: moong, urad/black gram, lentil, etc.  My favorite was dal mahkani which I actually made as my first dish to my family once home (made from urad dal and kidney beans).  I was pretty proud of it and it wasn't hard.  I used Sanjeev Kapoor's prep.

2. Authoritative sources of Indian cooking.  YouTube is a bitch.  So much good information, so much noise.  While in India, many of my acquaintances spoke highly of Sanjeev Kapoor, they think he's a god.  So, I've used a few of his recipes and have not been disappointed yet.  This is no small finding.  He has a chain of restaurants in the south called The Yellow Chilli.  I went once and it was decadent, simple food but extraordinary buffet. So check out Sanjeev Kapoor's YouTube channel and a website, equally good, is Vah Reh Vah for recipes/vids, etc. 

3. Texture.  Some time back, I fell in love with a pressure cooker for cooking beans.  Soaked or not, a pressure cooker cooks beans to a doneness I've never experienced.  Canned legumes are ok, but they are still al dente.  The legume consistency in a dal is, in pressure cooker time, a few minutes beyond the can.  In order for the bean to bean to become one with the sauce, it has to be beyond al dente but not disintegrating.  It takes a little practice, every bean is different, but getting it right is the difference between eating a firm legume in a rich sauce/soup versus a silky smooth legume perfectly incorporated into the surroundings.  I now strive to cook my beans perfectly before they go into the final preparation.

4. Breads.  Holy shit is there no consensus!  Paratha, kulcha, roti, chapathi, naan, puri, poori, etc.  It was shocking to hear how few people were able to describe the differences in the broad classes of these breads.  Paratha and kulcha were my favorite of the trip, layered essentially, something like a croissant lamination but unleavened with a leaner dough and cooked on a stovetop.  I've been able to parlay discussions with the locals into improved chapathi skills and I'm hunting down authoritative sources for an Indian bread book.  For the record, I prefer my chapathi super thin but perfectly separated into two layers on cooking on the stove top, an ideal I'm approaching with greater consistency by the day.

5. King Fisher.  India - move along, there's more to life than King Fisher beer!  If I didn't have @ArborBrewIndia on occasion 10 min walk from my hotel - I'd never have had a good beer during my visit.

6. Dosa.  The pancake made from a batter derived from finely ground and fermented rice and lentils was a centerpiece of my breakfasts.  Sometimes I'd have masala dosa, seasoned potatoes wrapped in the dosa or sometimes I'd have it plain and used it to dip in my sambhar.  The non-sweet breakfasts were wonderful and satisfying.  The sambhar, a soup of tamarind, vegetables and toor dal was unique every morning.  It was perfect for dipping the dosa.  

7. My plans? 2015 will have me searching YouTube for dals, breads, sambhar recipes, chutney preps and lassi recipes.  We're lucky in Columbus, all the ingredients, markets and resources are here to make great authentic Indian cuisine.

 Dal mahkani made a few nights after I got back from urad dal and kidney beans.

Chapathi for the meal. 


mac n cheese

Dishes like mac n cheese are exciting to me.  A few ingredients and a million ways to put them together.  And, even though it's just a few ingredients, the results can be sublime or disasterous.

Most common, a cheese sauce is made from a roux and cheese.  It's always been touchy for me.  Sometimes smooth, sometimes grainy, just not reliable.  Cheese and condensed milk is pretty good, better than a roux, definitely more reliable.

Then a year ago I saw this Modernist Cuisine variation that uses just water or milk and cheese *plus* a few grams of sodium citrate.  While not entirely sure if it's a pH thing or an ionic strength phenomena - I don't care.  It's kind of shocking.  Warm up some water or milk, add the sodium citrate and cheese, whisk away and boom!  Cheese sauce smooth as velveeta in a few minutes.  I dumped in my cooked macaroni, blanched cauliflower, pepper, topped with panko, baked and dinner.  I'll be playing with this for some time, it's quite a trick.

For the 3 of us:
milk, 200 g
sodium pyrophosphate/sodium bicarb mix, found at Mediterranean Imports for 50 cents a packet, 14 grams
cheese, 90 grams sharp cheddar, 90 grams mozzarella
coarse pepper
dijon mustard (1T)
pasta (180 g dry) cooked in salted water
small head of blanched cauliflower
some rendered bacon

Some action shots

Here's what I used instead of sodium citrate.

It's a mix of sodium pyrophosphate, same as mentioned in the original article and sodium bicarb (that just fizzes and adds more sodium to the sauce.

The smooth smooth cheese sauce after the addition of milk, sodium salts, cheese, mustard and whisking over low heat - decadent!

Added macaroni, blanched cauliflower, topped with panko and baked at 350F convection until bubbly and tasty looking.

That's it.  Find this ingredient and go nuts - it's pretty incredible.


roasted roots

In the zillion years we've been using heat to cook food, how is uncertainty possible when it comes to roasting vegetables?

Listening to a recent @atkradio podcast, Chris Kimball asks Mario Batali for his favorite goto fast dish.  Batali describes a bunch of 1-2" square chopped vegetables with olive oil, salt and pepper roasted at 425F for 30 minutes.  In my hands, using mostly root vegetables, this yielded an inconsistently cooked bunch of veggies.

Slowing things down a bit, I used an enamel-coated steel pan filled with root vegetables (yellow beats, russets, carrots, green onions), roughly 1" cubed and tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper and cumin (peppercorns and cumin crushed coarse) and some rosemary.  This was baked at 325F for almost an hour and a half (no convection) and was followed by the addition of a coarse chopped plum tomato and baked for an addtional 20 minutes. This produced a uniformly cooked bunch of veggies with plenty of tooth and some crunchy bits.  A great meal where no one noticed the absence of meat.

feel free to click and see the englarged and still unfocused decadence


multiple poached eggs

Ease of cooking influences my food choices at home.  I love poached eggs, but at my skill level, I can cook a single one per pot of water.  Serving up a single poached egg at a time when 2 people want 2 each makes for a pretty crappy breakfast.

I  spent some time thinking about getting an egg to vortex itself in place so I could get a bunch cooked in one pot of water.  After 3 pages of doodles and  many trips to the thrift store trying to imagine a solution, I ended up with a simple tomato paste can - top and bottom removed - to keep the egg in place while it starts to firm up in the boiling water.  The can is lifted off the egg during cooking and the eggs stay separated.  This video shows the tomato paste can in action.  It's not perfect, but in the 3.5 min vid, I was able to produce 3 pretty perfect eggs for our breakfast.  I'll keep thinking about it, but good for now.


panko and butter: crispy topping for your casserole du jour

The weekday casserole: tuna/mac/veggies, mac n cheese, etc. They all need a final touch to make the mundane special.  Only a few decades late to the scene, I finally realized the beauty of panko and often use that for a final topping.  But, it still needs some fat to get the top coat good and crispy, but how to get a smattering of fat uniformly distributed over the crumbs before going to the broiler?  Frozen butter on the big holes of the box grater!

 Click for a larger image.  This is frozen butter put through the big holes of a box grater uniformly spread over the panko topping for a recent mac n cheese.

Tossed in a broiler for a few before serving.  Pretty cool.


pizza notes

Inspired by some thin crust favorites like California Pizza Kitchen (no comment @feedmybeast) and Rubino's, I've been looking for a super thin crust for sometime.  Tonight's came up short, but an interesting run.

Key to any pizza cooking method: top and bottom must cook at the same rate.  When the bottom starts to get some ashy spots, the top should start bubbling.  I thought the cornerstone of this crackly and tender super thin crust would be a cast iron pan.

 I used a 15" round cast iron pan one notch below center of the oven and preheated at 450F w convection.  Convection mode turns on top and bottom heating elements alternately for more uniform exposure to heat.  I was worried about heating only from the bottom with the dark colored steel.

 Dough balls.   My usual pizza dough [water 180 g, flour 300, Fleischmann's  fast yeast 3 g, salt 5 g, sugar 5 g, olive oil 25 g] one long rise then scaled to 150 g lumps and rounded.

Instead of pushing out with my hands and tossing, I rolled them out to 12" diameter rounds and gave them ca. 5-10 min rest before topping.

Frankie made her shell into a calzone with just sauce and cheese (kids?).  I topped ours with (in this order): tomato puree, arugula, prosciutto, mozzarella and olive oil.  Cooked until it looked like this. 

It was ok, but nothing like CPK or Rubino's.  I'll try again with 200 g instead of 150 g of dough and maybe alter my dough recipe - not sure exactly.  I'm not sure why I even posted this, maybe with hindsight and the help of these notes I can figure out a better next move.


garganelli (like penne with an overlap)

The other night, I was into my 47th viewing of Big Night.  I love the movie.  At one point they begin making a timpano, a drum-shaped, pasta-encrusted, baked macaroni type of casserole The first step is making the macaroni for it.  The screenshot below is Primo and Secondo making the individual pasta.

From what I've been able to determine, it's garganelli, a type of pasta that looks like penne embossed with a heavy ridged pattern and done individually (unlike the smooth, extruded tube that is penne).  It's made on a wooden jig with a pattern engraved in it and a tiny rolling pin.  The pasta rolls into a tube, then gets mashed into the indentations on the wooden jig.

I got a little obsessed when I saw this.  Not so much for the timpano, but the patterned pasta looked tasty.  I also never imagined making little pieces of pasta would be feasible (but it is!). I looked it up and made a jig (these can be purchased somewhere, but I'm too cheap) out of a 2 x 4 and burned the grooves into it using an angle grinder.  The metal cutting blade on my grinder burned the grooves into the 2 x 4 making a nice pattern that looked appropriate for this type of pasta.  I used a 5/16" diameter oak dowel for the mini rolling pin.

The next thing to consider was the dough for the pasta.  It had to be dry enough to retain the shape of the impressions from the jig, *release* from the jig and mini rolling pin, but also soft enough to roll out.  Pasta sticking to equipment is a big consideration in how dry/wet dough is mixed.  

My preference is to roll pasta by hand.  I like to use a rolling pin, because I hate to clean extra equipment.  I realize rollers can achieve a thinner pasta with slightly better texture, but I still like to roll my own.  I used the following dough recipe (3 servings)

egg, 3, then add enough water to make the total =150 g (the contents of a large egg is 50 +/- 2 g)
olive oil, 15 g
salt, 3 g
unbleached white flour, 300 g

mix together, knead lightly, squish into a ball and let rest at least 15 minutes.  Scale to 10 x 40-50g logs.  Roll each log into a long strip, ca. 1.5 - 2.0" wide and ca. 14" long. 

Cut the pasta strips into little rectangles.  Each piece will get wrapped around the dowel, then rolled slowly and firmly into the grid of the rolling jig.  This will crimp the dough closed and give the requisite exterior pattern.   See next 3 images.

 Pasta rolled around the dowel.

 Once rolled around the dowel, use the dowel like a rolling pin and press the wrapped piece into the grooves.  A pasta this dry should not stick.

As the wrapped pasta is rolled/mashed into the grooves, the diameter of the tube will expand and release itself from the dowel; slide the pasta off of the dowel and admire your teeny weeny work of art.

Final product.


Firedome: Pizza on a Weber Kettle, a 5 year retrospective

5 Years ago, I burst out of my 9to5 gig at about 11:00 am.  With a strange idea, a pocketful of index card notes and a vacation day, I made this.  Then I modified it a million times and made the same thing, but kept the flange of the lid intact, it's a much more stable build.  I've tweaked this thing many times and always returned to a similar design.

Cooking on this is not like a normal wood fired pizza oven that uses burning embers as the heat source.  This uses burning wood - not just embers - to do the job.  Study a bunch of ovens and you'll appreciate this difference.  The biggest change between my modified kettle now and when it was conceived - I use hardwood and no briquettes to fire it, less ash, hotter and easier to maintain a fire by loading wood on the fly.  It's not too much effort to maintain a fire for hours.

After 5 years, I still get excited cooking on it.  When @lleian expressed an interest in trying one out,  I was ecstatic at the chance to share and offered to make one for her.  She dropped off a CraigsList standard issue 22.5" kettle.  A few bucks in hardware and some blissful minutes with my angle grinder and voila, a Firedome pizza oven.

Consider the following post a user's manual for a new Firedome.

The new grill.  Standard 22.5"Weber kettle with a door cut into the lid (stays open for cooking) and ca. 8"diameter hole cut into the base to kick up some air flow.  It's basically a starter chimney big enough to make a pizza in.   Here's how to light it.
 To ignite this beast, ignite a few briquettes, ca 10 or so.  These will be used to start the wood.  I use a chimney starter - or a large can of tomatoes with holes drilled in it.

Once the briquettes are started, dump ém out. '

Add a few logs.  I get dry hardwood at the supermarket.  Two bundles will get you about 4 hours of cook time.

Place the Firedome lid on with the door lid open.  Keep passing in logs.  Sometimes they stick out.  Ideally, supermarket logs would be 3/4 the size they are, You can cut a bundle in half or let them hang out while they fire up.  The best igniting bundles have smaller diameter pieces.  Large logs burn slower and not as hot.  Toss in logs and let things burn down for about 40 minutes.

Check the surface of the pizza stone for temperature.  When it's at least 600-700F you're ready.  For surface measurements use an IR thermometer.  With a little practice, getting a cooking stone temperature close to 900F is possible.  But 700F is a little easier to cook on.  The pie should cook uniformly bottom and top.  900F is tricky, takes practice and familarity.

Stone's hot, fire is cresting over, ready!

Before I cook pizzas, I take a 100 g piece of dough and make a test pita.  If it puffs and cooks uniformly top and bottom, it's ready.  My usual pizza dough is: unbleached white flour (Montana Sapphire 600 g), water (400 g), Fleischmann's rapid rise yeast (1 pkt), salt (2t), sugar (2t), olive oil (50 g).  This sits in the fridge about a day before baking.

@lleian Godspeed.  This is an insane way to cook pizza but worth it.
And, thanks for the SPAM MUSUBI!!!