/sorry for bad english/
Long ago, in yearly middle-school time I am argue with friends about optimum(by combined simplicity and taste score) way to bake frozen pizza, and all about with electric heating oven VS microwave. After some time oven was chosen, but I thinked that made oven pre-heaten was waste of time and try to approximate it with longer cooking in just powered oven. I have been tried to made some calculations with paper and microcalculator. Some years after I remembered it and understood that I was reinvent some integration stuff.
And pizza was burnt because all of this distraction
In my experience with frozen pizza, the ones with less ingredients are better. Any frozen vegetables will go watery, so your options are really pepperoni or plain cheese. You want a pizza with a nice thin base
Let the pizza defrost for a little bit with the wrapper off before you put it in the oven, then blast it in the oven at maximum temperature.
It helps if you put the pizza on a pizza stone or on a rack, rather than on a tray. If it's on a tray, the bottom tends to get soggy.
(Geez, I sound like a shill. After 5 years and 8000+ HN karma, Red Baron's sockpuppet account finally pays off!)
As another example: the budget branded fries that I brought for $2 for a kg came from the Netherlands. Not only was I amazed that it was cheaper than locally made fries, but that was cheaper than I could buy fresh potatoes.
Somehow it's cheaper to grow potatoes, cut them up, package them, and ship them to New Zealand, than it is to grow potatoes in New Zealand and drive them to the supermarket.
Looking at ballpark estimates, potato chips weigh about 500 kg/m^3 , meaning you can fit 27 t in a shipping container  with some space left over, as 27 t is the maximum weight for a 40 ft container. This would cost around $4,500 to ship from Rotterdam to Auckland in a refrigerated container .
So per 1 kg packet, you're looking $0.17 for shipping costs. That's pretty astoundingly low.
Unless your point is that the shipping is cheap in absolute terms, in which case 'yes' :) Although I don't think it will add much. Say pizzas are shipped 500 km, on average (for the North Island - most of them will stay in Auckland, and I imagine those going to Wellington are shipped there directly). Either way, transport like that will cost you, say Eur 1/NZD 1.75/USD 1.15 per kilometer? (IIRC from the time I worked for a transport company). But you can fit, say, 50k of them in a truck. That's 1-2 cents depending on which currency you look at, and that's using lowball estimates, and not using bulk shipping discounts.
It's amazing and completely counter-intuitive how cheap shipping is. Which is also why I so dislike the 'food miles' concept. Yes, it's 3k km to drive lettuce from Spain to Northern Europe. But you can fit so many of them in a truck, that the per-item cost is tiny, and quite often offsets the extra costs you'd have to make to grow that same lettuce up north. And yes that's even when calculating in the environmental costs (depending of course on the crop and the time of year; my point: just having fewer 'food miles' doesn't necessarily make it better for the environment).
I cook from frozen normally, but for a really "gourmet" frozen pizza experience defrost is completely and stick it under the grill. Wonderful grilled cheese on top and still a soft fluffy base underneath.
I'm constantly impressed with the quality of Aldi food for how insanely cheap it is, especially their frozen goods. I can eat well for $5 per day on Aldi food.
I had to look it up to make sure you meant (US: bell) peppers.
>The large, mild form is called bell pepper, or by color or both in North America and the United Kingdom, but typically called capsicum in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Singapore, and India.
It does seem strange that even anglosphere countries in the eastern hemisphere ended up with a different name for some reason. Presumably it was also called that in the UK at some point too.
Some other differences in Australian and UK usage are zucchini vs courgette and eggplant vs aubergine. Not much of a French influence down-under. And Italian immigrants dominated Melbourne's fruit and veg trade in the 1960s.
Perhaps it became common in all of these countries at the same time, long after colonisation, leading to different marketing/naming between these countries.
This seems backwards. The hotter the oven, the less time for the heat to diffuse inwards before the outside is burnt. The lower the temperature, the more even the heat.
I'd imagine the reason not to put it before it's done preheating is standardization. If my oven takes 5 minutes and yours takes 10 to get to 400, there's no way to write one single set of directions for how long to cook it from the time of powering it on. It's hard enough with everyone's different freezer temperatures.
PS, I found best results with a bit of microwave first (to unfreeze the inside, the microwaves do penetrate quite well) and then to the oven.
You can't bake good napolitan pizza at home but you can bake decent pizza at home as long as you change the recipe to be nontraditional. I make a very wet dough, let it rise, then spread it on olive oil greased sheets, rise again then pre bake the crust until it is firm enough to put on the toppings then bake again. The crust is like a thin focaccia.
Yes you can. Good dough, high thermal mass (baking steel) and thorough preheating are the most important points.
"Oh, but it doesn't get to 350/400/a quadrillion degrees like a real pizza oven does!" the peanut gallery cries.
A lot of great pizzarias don't bake their pizzas above ~300 anyway. Just turn your oven way up and let it preheat properly. It is not properly heated when the indicator bulb turns off. Give it at least another 15 minutes to get the baking surface thoroughly warmed through. If water droplets don't show the Leidenfrost effect on the baking surface, it is nowhere near hot enough.
Ingredient (grams) 1 Pie 3 Pied 5 Pies
Filtered Water 110 330 550
King Arthur Bread flour 168 510 850
Kosher or Sea Salt 6 18 30
Sourdough yeast culture 15 45 60
Instant Dry yeast 0.5 1.5 2.5
All ingredients into mixer except 25% of flour.
Mix on lowest speed for 1-2 minutes or until completely blended.
Cover and Let it rest for 20 minutes.
Start Mixing on Low speed for 8 minutes. 5 minutes into it start adding held back flour gradually.
Mix for 1 more minute
Divide in to 300g balls and either let raise warm (3-10 hours) or cold (2-7 days).
Highly recommend though I believe the author is located in the Pacific Northwest, and one thing I have found is nearly all recipes should have their hydration ratios adjusted to your local climate. Local humidity / seasons tend to have impacts on dough.
To use, just take it out a few hours ahead of time so that it can warm up to RT and rise again.
Yes, aside from high heat the cold ferment step seems to play a big role: https://slice.seriouseats.com/2010/09/the-pizza-lab-how-long...
* Use bread flour
* Let it sit refrigerated for a few days before use. 1-2 weeks is pretty ideal.
Compared to a fresh dough, you'll get that nice crispy crust and chewy, flavorful interior.
Too much beyond that the dough will break down too much, becoming gooey, tearing easily when handled, and resulting in a hard/crunchy crust.
Proofed dough balls can be frozen for storage, however. They keep well in the freezer and defrost quickly when needed.
As someone who's cracked several conventional baking stones, I would be seriously surprised if the Slab O' Steel doesn't outlast me. I can highly recommend getting one, it's definitely worth it.
takes a long time to heat up, but when it does pizza cooks like its supposed to, and the oven temp springs back quickly after you close the door.
inexpensive and pretty durable. highly recommend.
You don't really need it, you can produce extremely good pizzas in an ordinary oven, as long as you remember to preheat it and have enough thermal mass in your baking stone/steel. Once the oven reaches temp, give it at least another 15 minutes to really preheat the stone.
Preheating and a good dough have been the key ingredients for me. That and a hefty 8kg baking steel. Metal retains more heat and dumps it a lot quicker into the crust than a traditional backing stone.
sorry for slow answer
They have a heated stone base and large electrical elements in the lid. You have to be careful not to cook it too fast -- you turn it right down between pizzas.
Downside is they only do one at a time but that's usually fine.
[edit - the one we have is very similar to this: New Wave NWKA 1200W Stone Bake Just Pizza Maker (Red) ]
They're a like a bread maker in that regard. They seem super useful, but just never get used.
I use my bread maker almost every day, sometimes twice. I dismantled the table top pizza oven because it was useless and now I just use the stone from it in the oven.
I suspect I am an outlier in the bread maker statistics :-)
If you're actually curious in the physics of food, check out the journal of food engineering. We use much more complex physical models to simulate the physics of food.
Fun note, this is my job and it is pretty cool to really dig into the science behind cooking and then apply that to an industrial scale.
The science and history of food! Great illustrations too.
I like it because he shows taste and sensitivity to the culinary arts, he's hilarious, but actually goes in depth on the topics.
Frozen meals tend to have very high levels of salt in them. They also have poor quality ingredients, so are not as nutritional as you think.
If you must live on frozen meals, try making them in large quantities yourself over a weekend, and freeze them. Most basic 'meat & vegetables' meals can be frozen and re-heated.
If I were to use a frozen meal, I'd have to defrost, and then cook, and likely would want something alongside it - like veg or salad. Unless Chef Mike (Microwave) is employed. I find it hard to see this being that much quicker.
I've had one pre-prepared bought in meal this year. Most convenience foods like this have a strange processed taste -
that isn't just salt. This is coming from someone whose sense of taste has been shot totally to pieces.
A part that's much quicker is that you just grab a frozen meal from the store, rather than first figuring out what to cook and then searching for ingredients at various sections of the store.
Then for the first few days after you shop, cook the meals you planned. And towards the end of the week, open the fridge/cupboard and think "what needs to be used up?"
The more you do it, the easier it gets.
It is generally thought that we eat way more salt than is considered healthy. Too much salt increases the risk of high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, and kidney failure.
The Dutch government — to cite just one example — states that 80% of people in the Netherlands eat too much salt¹; i.e., more than 6 grammes per day, and lists the health issues mentioned above.
Conversely, eating too little salt is quire rare nowadays due to the high amount of salt in store bought products.
1) what's the most helpful physics-based cooking tip most people aren't aware of?
2) are there efforts in food engineering to apply machine learning to recipes in the same way some projects are trying to automate other creative functions like graphic design?
Searing (dry, high heat) produces maillard reactions which are responsible for lots of flavors that we like. So searing is good, but it's better to cook your meat to just below the temperature you want, then take it out and sear it. You'll have a more consistent doneness.
2) this is for food science, not food engineering.But yes, my this is a new area food companies (and specifically my boss) is getting into is to use AI/ML for understanding process and recipes to design new foods or troubleshoot problems
After breaking several conventional pizza stones, I figure this one is going to last for decades or even centuries. And there's just something so satisfying about a big honkin' slab o' iron like that.
1. Don't "Moat" your pizza. The barren expanse of dried sauce and over-sized crust is the classic sign of "moating" the pizza. Spread the majority of the toppings as close to the edge as you'd like your crust to be, and reduce the amount of toppings (cheese, sauce, etc.) at the center. As the pizza cooks, the crust will rise, and the toppings will naturally flow to the center of the pie.
2. Don't use heavy-gluten flour. Some people like chewy (new your deli-style) pizza - but it has no business on my table.
3. Let the pizza cool for 2-5 mins before cutting. But, if you cool it for longer, put it on a rack so the bottom doesn't get soggy.
4. Never, ever, ever use cheap mozzarella. Especially if you are doing a sauce-less pizza.
5. You can put a touch of sugar in the dough, or you can put a touch of sugar in the sauce, but don't put it in both. Corollary: If you put pineapple or other sweet toppings on the pie, don't put any sugar in the sauce or dough.
As an Italian, I feel the urge to jump in here. Sugar in dough is used to kickoff/boost yeast levitation, while sugar in sauce is used to affect tomato acidity. In both cases, they are not intended to provide your pizza with a sweet taste. If for some reasons you like some sweet flavor on your pizza, you should at least take into account the fact that it comes as a byproduct of diverse chemical reactions that affect consistency and PH of your pizza in multiple/subtle ways.
I moved to the USA from Australia. If I want bread that doesn't taste like cake, I actually have to bake it myself.
Lots of them simply don't contain sugar at all. Really.
Perhaps the rest of the world is just used to buying from a bakery, rather than the supermarket?
You crank up your oven to very high (for most ovens that is ALL THE WAY), let it stabilize temperature for 40-60 minutes with an empty pan in the rack underneath where the bread goes.
When the bread goes in, pour a cup of water into the pan. This will create steam in the early stages of cooking and promote good crust properties.
I look forward to reading it later.
I'll probably still end up doing the extra sugar when I feel like that particular type of dough (usually thin ones) since it's a different type of crunch.
In my dough it most certainly is, and it makes a big difference.
Olive oil does not caramelise.
That is - 450C (at least), cooking time under 90s, thin / crisp crust, with minimal toppings. In AU this is not hard to find, but there certainly are plenty of chain pizza restaurants that go for the heavy, piled-on, thick crust, 10 minutes to bake/boil. I gather in the US there are regions where the latter (Chicago perhaps?) is the default, but I'm not sure how common the genuine Neapolitan style is - in availability or popularity.
Anyway, to your list -- if toppings are flowing at all, you've got too many toppings. You definitely do want high protein flour - at least 12%, or higher if you can find it. When I lived in the UK this meant imported Canadian flour as the domestic product simply couldn't do it. In AU it's hard to find much above 12%. If you need to cool your pizza for 2-5 minutes before cutting, it's too big. : ) Agreed on avoiding cheap (or rather, low-quality) ingredients. Less is more on toppings - but go for the most exquisitely flavoured varieties you can find. Sugar .. I think is not needed. Tomatoes are high in sugars, and good flour really shouldn't need the additional sugars for the yeast. If it's for flavour only, then I can't help.
There's some other quite specific requirements, around thinness of dough, and flour type.
I gather the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana is a bit like the Comité Champagne - eager to protect their good name, and for good reason.
For example, making quite a small pizza would make it easier to get sufficient heat / rise in under 90s -- this is what we were doing on our bread-making course. The wood oven had been heating up all morning, I think reaching more than 500, but we were cooking with the fire completely removed, and the thermal mass holding the temperature around 350 ish from memory. More than sufficient.
I would think you would be able to source vital wheat gluten.
Making your own pizza is fun and you can make some decent pies with only a little bit of practice.
For home ovens use bread flour. If you end up getting into making pizza, then go down the 00 flour + wood fire oven route.. but until then your home oven can produce some really outstanding pies.
Over the past few years the ability to make a wide variety of really amazing pizza at home has become extremely accessible. The last wave of ovens are fantastic.
However, you can approximate the specific variables of a Neapolitan brick oven by using two factors to your advantage: slow even conductive heat, and high radiant heat. You need these two because you're cooking two different kinds of food at once: bread, and cheese/vegetables.
For the conductive surface, you want something that retains a lot of heat, but not too much heat that it would burn the surface or overcook it before it's fully cooked through. I like a Dutch oven or very large cast iron skillet, as both retain a lot of heat and can transfer it effectively. In addition, you can add a lid to control the radiant heat on the top, as well as control water loss.
The surface radiant heat can be obtained with the broiler mode on a standard oven. By pre-heating a conductive surface, and controlling when the radiant heat is applied using a lid, you can time the bread cook time and surface cook time to obtain an even cook.
However, all this is very complicated and still not likely to work for all pizzas. So it's actually a bit easier to pre-cook the crust, add the toppings, and then cook the top as desired. This should work for virtually all pizza types as the bread is really the hardest part to get right (if you have good ingredients and a stable radiant heat source).
Works great, cooks amazing pizza in a couple of minutes.
I've documented more on my blog but I'm still getting wrinkles, uneven leopard patterning, and stiff edges on the crust.
 - http://dopeboy.github.io/roccbox-pizza/
20 ounces (about 4 cups) bread flour, preferably Italian-style "OO"
.4 ounces kosher salt (about 4 teaspoons)
.3 ounces (about 2 teaspoons) instant yeast, such as SAF Instant Yeast
13 ounces water
I was somewhat "inspired" to add more water by the Bonci recipe
http://www.elizabethminchilli.com/2011/01/making-pizza-dough... and to reduce the salt by an Italian guy at work.
It depends on the yeast you use too I guess. You have to test out what works best for your ingredients. Don't be afraid to play around with time, leave it in the fridge for a day or more, take it out 1, 2, 3 hours before cooking. Add more or less water... experiment with the ingredients you use. For the longest time I was over-proofing the dough, it would often become a gassy soggy mess that was impossible to work with. I'd usually have to re-work it and it'd lose all the bubbles. I found that making the dough after breakfast, leaving it in the fridge all day and taking it out an hour before I was ready to bake it made it perfect.
I'm dead jealous of your oven BTW. I'd love to have a good pizza oven, but in a small flat where every inch counts it seems like an impractical luxury :-)
I use wood kindling or pellets for the fire - it gets hot enough in 10 mins. For the dough I use 00 (fine) flour, and depending on time I might prove the dough for 3-4 nights in the fridge.
Possibly the best cooking tool I've bought.
And not as over the top as a dedicated wood-fired oven (single use: pizza) for garden or balcony.
It's my 80% solution.
Are there versions that don't cost the equivalent of a small car?
A luttle unknown fact is
Water quality makes a difference on the taste of pizza. There is a saying in the states that you cant replicate true new york pizza unless you use new york water, etc.
Good pizza water tastes awful if you drank it as is. I dont recall which elements were added inside of it, but its there. Another interesting tidbit is pizza quality is sometimes compared to coffee quality for water enthusiasts.
Sometimes called "waves". A first wave coffee shop is like getting a awful espresso shot at a hotel. 2nd and 3rd wave is like starbucks. 4th wave is when a coffee shop sources their own products and knows the history behind its goods. 5th wave is everything - these are generallly operated by famous baristas who have basic chemistry knowledge and expertise operating a espresso machine.
Pizza is the similar in ratings to coffee in this regards.
"Let us assume that your mother’s head is made
of steel, and her temperature is the same: 36°С.
Intuitively, it is clear the temperature at the
interface will decrease, let us say, to 36.3°С."
Whatever they put in the dough, it's definitely not the same as what they use in good pizzarias.
The lower fat content means it doesn't spread very effectively.