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  1. scott123

    Alkalizing Chocolate

    Perhaps it was the chocolate I was raised on, but I have developed a strong preference for alkalized chocolate/cocoa. Non alkalized chocolate tends to have a fruitiness that I just don't resonate with. At least some do. Scharffen Berger, for instance, is almost painfully fruity. I'm shopping for baking chocolate and I'm not coming up with too many alkalized options, so... I'm considering alkalizing the chocolate myself. Any thoughts? Baking soda? Washing soda? Heat (above melting temp)? Time? I'm just looking for pH neutral. Oreo level cocoa has no flavor to me whatsoever.
  2. I haven't bought unsweetened chocolate in about 5 years, but I noticed that my brand of choice, Nestle, is off the market. If memory serves me correctly, I could occasionally find it on sale for $2 for an 8oz. bar, $4/lb. I'm well aware that $4/lb is a pipe dream now, but I'd still like something in the $6/lb realm. I grew up with Baker's brand, and I'm just not a fan. The Nestle bar was alkalized though, and I definitely prefer alkalized chocolate, so that may be why I prefer the Nestle. On a recent trip to the store, I noticed that the Baker's brand isn't cheap any more either. Right now, TJs is the leading candidate. I'm going to have to convert all my recipes from unsweetened to sweetened chocolate, which is going to be a pain in the behind, but, at $5 for 500g, at 72% cocoa solids, that gives me about a $6/lb unsweetened equivalent (subtracting some for the value of the sugar). I made chocolate milk from some 54% TJs the other day, and was surprised by how fibrous it was (underconching, I'd presume), but that wouldn't impact cake or brownies.
  3. Breville is responsible for some of the worst pizza ovens in the history of pizza ovens. If they really wanted to appeal to the obsessive market- and, let's face it, the only people spending $800 OR $1200 on a pizza oven are going to be obsessives, if they wanted to market this in the best light possible, they should have removed their name. As far as the oven itself goes, a 2 minute bake isn't Neapolitan pizza, and, if you're going to spend $800, you had darn well better get Neapolitan capabilities. I'm not saying that this oven can't do Neapolitan, but, from the videos I've been able to track down, I haven't seen it, and, if the Uuni and the Roccbox are any indicators, it's going to be at least 8 months before this oven gets into the hands of someone that even knows how to make Neapolitan pizza. I'm not going to lie, the lifting action on the hearth as you close the door is pretty ingenious. In the prototype ovens that I've designed, I've had that feature- at least I've had the hearth down for launching and up for the bake. Having it come out- with a heavy-ish stone- I think the engineering gets a bit iffy on that. It's hard to tell, but I get the feeling that they may not use a stone, but, rather, use a metal sheet for the hearth. Depending on the thinness of the metal, that may be a bad idea, but I have to learn more to know for certain. The Blackstone is off the market, so, if this could do a 60 second bake, that would be a pretty big selling point. But it would have to be at most $800, not $800 on sale, but $800, period. When you get into the $1200 realm, that comes close to the cost of having an F1 shipped from Europe.
  4. As I said before, 10 bucks: https://www.amazon.com/Thermometer-58℉-1022℉-Non-Contact-Temperature-Adjustable/dp/B07C3SLMVN It's not the prettiest IR thermometer, but, should you ever get a Neapolitan capable oven, the peak temp on this model will play friendly with it. This will get to the bottom of your mystery. Guaranteed. You will need to, as previously discussed, season your aluminum for IR to work, but, you'll want to do that anyway to minimize the preheat time by maximizing absorptivity.
  5. As I mentioned before, with the temps your main oven can reach, aluminum isn't buying you anything in terms of a reduction in bake time, because you'll be limited by the strength of your broiler, but it will be considerably lighter to work with. Even at a whopping 1 inch, it should still be relatively easy to take in and out of the oven. What size did you get?
  6. https://youtu.be/itqTL3knVeM?t=139 This particular process uses sodium hydroxide to prep the surface, which basically corrodes it. I've seen sandblasting as a prep as well. https://i0.wp.com/img0.etsystatic.com/002/0/6262900/il_570xN.377462932_bkig.jpg I have this vintage sunbeam waffle iron with irons that swap out for flat griddles. For as long as I can remember, at least 40 years, the waffle iron has been seasoned dark black, without a single flake. I attribute this longevity to both the nooks and crannies of the iron itself and the surface imperfections of the cast aluminum. Ive tried seasoning the flat griddles with little success, but this was years ago, before I started watching videos on teflon pans. I may give them a try with sandpaper. I think the major issue with the griddles, though, is that they tend to give a bit. Flexibility is the kiss of death for seasoning.
  7. Nathan and Chris's mistreatment of Neapolitan pizza in MC has been the focus of my attention for many years. I focused so much on the misinformation, I lost sight of the useful information in the book. I was doing some digging today, and remembered this: From Volume 2, Page 26 of Modernist Cuisine: "Buy a metal plate (not shown). A piece of metal 2cm/3/4 in thick and large enough to just fit in the oven is ideal- and surprisingly inexpensive. Either steel or aluminum works, but the latter is much easier to lift." So, as you can see, the Modernist folks have already recommended 3/4" aluminum plate for pizza. I do not agree with their blanket recommendation for all ovens and all types of pizza, but, as I've said, in the right setting and the right application, thick aluminum can be invaluable. Here's some experimentation with aluminum: https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=51228.0 https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=21951.0 https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=25758.0 https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=30572.0 https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=21951.0 https://forums.egullet.org/topic/152882-diy-crispy-pizza-crust/?tab=comments#comment-2048144 https://stefangourmet.com/2012/06/27/real-pizza-in-a-domestic-oven-using-an-aluminum-plate/ https://www.reddit.com/r/Pizza/comments/190jhp/pizza_cooked_on_a_200mm_thick_aluminium_slab_in_2/ It took a few years, but the pizza community figured out that 3/4" steel couldn't produce a faster bake than 1/2". Basically, the heat can't travel from the bottom 1/4" during the time the pizza bakes. Aluminum, though, is different. We haven't determined the thickness of aluminum that produces the fastest bake- and with it's incredibly high conductivity and cost, we may never reach that point. With this in mind, if you are dead set for getting aluminum for your CSO, I'd go with an inch- or even thicker. 1" aluminum at 450 might actually give you the coveted 4 minute bake. And don't worry about a special alloy. 6061 is the cheapest, it's what everyone uses for pizza, and it's perfectly fine to use at the temps you'll be using it at. As has been mentioned, you will want to season it. I would take a page out of the teflon coating handbook and rough up the surface a bit with sandpaper prior to seasoning. That will help the seasoning stick (aluminum is a bit harder to season).
  8. I resonate a bit more with the comment from this guy "I’m betting the steel just got hotter than the copper. Most of the heating in an oven is by radiant heat, and materials that absorb more IR will heat up much faster." I'm sure you recognize that comment, but, just in case you don't, it's your comment from the comment section of Kenji's post. I guarantee you that the copper was at a lower temp than the steel. It's mind boggling that Kenji would compare two different materials for baking pizza without an infrared thermometer. While I think that emissivity plays a role with shiny materials like aluminum and copper, I don't think radiation is the 'primary' player over conduction. https://forums.egullet.org/topic/136959-cooking-with-modernist-cuisine-part-1/?page=6&tab=comments#comment-1791987 "3. Once the pizza is in contact with the metal plate, heat will be primarily by conduction, not radiation, so the heat transfer to the pizza will be pretty much the same regardless of whether the aluminum is shiny or not." Nathan is erring in the other direction by downplaying radiation completely, but I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Radiation does play a trivial role, and this impact typically results in greater contrast in longer bakes with shiny aluminum. Contrast isn't necessarily a bad thing (see Neapolitan), but, to level the playing field, I do feel that seasoning aluminum is important. So I agree 100% about the need for seasoning, but I feel very strongly that it's primarily a conduction game, not a radiative one.
  9. It's all about conductivity. Steel plate is able to transfer heat at a faster rate than stone, and aluminum is able to transfer heat at a faster rate than steel. So, while the bottom of the pizza might cook in about 11 minutes on a stone @ 500, and 7 minutes on steel plate @ 500, aluminum plate can, at that same 500 degree temp, achieve a 4 minute bake. Aluminum is considerably less dense than steel, but it has a higher specific heat. A little less than 1/2" of steel plate (.47) matches the heat capacity of 3/4" aluminum. This is why I generally recommend 3/4" aluminum. It's low density is a big plus. 16" x 16" x .5" of steel weighs 30 pounds, where 16" x 16" x .75" of aluminum weighs 10 pounds. That's going to be a lot easier to get in and out of the oven. Lastly, I should point out that I was recommending aluminum to Katie in the context of her 500F oven, as well as European ovens that can reach 250C/482F. It was not in the context of 450F, so aluminum is not the answer to your Cuisinart Steam Oven. It also wouldn't be buying you anything in your main oven either, since, although it might very well take you down to 90 seconds @ 585 on the base of the pizza, it's almost guaranteed that you won't have the necessary broiler strength to bake the top of the pizza at the same rate. Aluminum plate, right now, is extremely application specific- 4-5 minute NY style pizza @ 482-500F. You're not in this group. You might be able to hit 6 minutes with the CSO, maybe, but that's completely uncharted territory.
  10. While I fiercely disagreed/disagree with Nathan and Kenji on particular aspects regarding steel, we all agree on one thing. Steel's primary purpose for the home pizza maker is reducing bake times. Heat is leavening, so a faster bake produces a puffier crust. Within this paradigm, 7-8 minutes is really not that fast. I used to talk about how, out of the (at the time) hundreds of people I knew who had used steel, not one, when they successfully achieved a 4-5 minute bake, ever went back to the 7 minute bakes they were getting on stone. And then a couple people went back Still, though, 99% of the folks that achieved that elusive 4-5 minute bake continued on that path. You sound extraordinarily pleased with your current pizzas, but, should you ever get the itch and ask yourself "where do I go from here?", assuming you have a broiler in the main compartment of your oven, you can hit that magic 4-5 minute bake with thick aluminum plate. Aluminum is going to be the next stage in home pizza making. The modernist team's days of trailblazing faster bakes appear to be over, and without their stamp of approval, Kenji won't go anywhere near it, so it might take as long as a decade to match steel's ubiquity, but any entrepreneurs reading this might want to get their hands on the bakingaluminum.com domain now Also, the bakingaluminum.uk and bakingaluminum.de addresses as well, as aluminum is poised to explode in Europe where 250C (482F) is a very common peak temp- and where interest in making better pizza at home is on the rise.
  11. When Raffaele Esposito made the first Margherita for the Queen consort in 1889, he certainly didn't take surface readings of his hearth with an in IR thermometer but, since IR thermometers became affordable to home and professional pizza makers in the early aughts, they have served this purpose valiantly. While I'm a little intrigued by the use of a surface thermocouple for this purpose, the track record for an IR thermometer in this role is so untarnished, I'm going to have to cast my vote in the 'if it isn't broke, don't fix it' column. Are $10 (on Amazon) Chinese IR thermometers sexy? No. Are they super precise? Not really. But for this particular job, you cant' find a better tool, imo.
  12. It looks like your infrared thermometer isn't working properly. 477F can't blacken the bottom of a pizza in 4 minutes. 585F- now that will produce what you're experiencing. Have you tested your IR thermometer with boiling water?
  13. scott123

    Pizza Dough

    My reference to oven temperature had nothing to do with ambient temps. I was referring to the temperature of the ceiling of the oven and how a 700 degree ceiling isn't going to have that much more radiative impact than a 550 ceiling. Temperature, in this context- not a bed of coals vs. a gas flame, but, rather, the exact same ceiling at two different temps- in that context, temperature dictates radiative impact. Perhaps if the broiler wasn't present, and the pizza was in far greater proximity, you could detect a difference between the radiative impact of a 550 ceiling and a 700 one, but you'd still fall incredibly short for the necessary top heat for Neapolitan. The radiative impact of a 700 degree ceiling in a self cleaning hacked oven is, from a Neapolitan perspective, completely inconsequential. For Neapolitan in a home oven, everything hinges on broiler strength- and a self cleaning hack doesn't increase broiler strength. Undercrust leoparding can be achieved with aluminum plate at 600. Undercrust leoparding in a home oven is feasible. It's not the easiest to achieve, but when there's a will, there's a way (and it need not be a self cleaning cleaning cycle). But that's all for naught if you can't leopard the top of the pizza- and to achieve that, you're completely at the mercy of your broiler. A 1 in 1000 broiler, and you're all set. A 999 in 1000 broiler, and, if you're smart, you're making something else. For the record, I've never seen a high powered infrared broiler produce a Neapolitan bake time. I've seen literature that talks a good game, but I have yet to see results. It might be possible, but, if someone is reading this conversation, I'd hate to see them spend a huge amount of money on this kind of oven, only to have it fall short. Time should help clear this up- unless you can point me towards a success story that you're aware of. My thoughts on water can be found here (cliff notes; extra water won't compensate for lower heat), but, if you extend the bake clock and switch to malted flour, you're clearly making NY style pizza, not Neapolitan. Up until yesterday, I hadn't heard the term 'Brooklyn Neapolitan.' I like it, and, with your permission, I'm going to start using it. I'm especially impressed by the fact that you recognized the innate difference, and, rather than just boorishly expanding the Neapolitan definition (like so many people feel oddly compelled to do) you graciously created a unique substyle. Now, if you're going to try to shoehorn 4 minute malted flour pizza into the Neapolitan spectrum, then all that good will is going to evaporate quickly. And, no 4 minute malted flour pizza is not a hybrid.
  14. scott123

    Pizza Dough

    Well, New Haven pizza can get pretty oval, but I think 10 x 20 (two 10 x 10 plates) isn't really viable. Unless you bought four 10 x 10 plates. I grew up on 21" slice pies, and, if someone asked me what the perfect sized pizza is, I might say 21" (the slices really are perfectly shaped), but, with the bow of the shelf, you'd have to remove the shelf from the equation entirely and suspend the plates on bars- which is probably way more involved than you want to get. Steam does some pretty amazing things to melting cheese, and I've always been curious about adding steam to the pizza equation, but, bottom line, 450 is the death of puffy. There's nothing you can do with the ingredients, process or the formula that will counteract the effects of that cool of an oven.
  15. scott123

    Pizza Dough

    Imagine how a Christian would feel if you told them you were considering worshiping satan. That's about how I feel about a 10" baking surface I'm going to do my best to try and save you, but, if a 10" steel is your pathway to bliss, so be it.