Wednesday, February 13, 2013

My Pizza Oven

“How about homemade pizza for dinner?” I said to Mr. Wonderful during a sunny breakfast.
“Where?” he said spreading Nutella on his toast.
“In our home. I'm making the homemade pizza.”
“… ambitious.”

His mouth said “ambitious” but his look said “you're certifiably crazy”. I’d show him! Little did he know that my middle name was Mozzarella and I had a plan. It entailed making the pizza dough by hand and baking it in our open-hearth kitchen fireplace, aka my Magic Pizza Oven.

Before noon I started with the most important part: miming how to throw rounds of pizza dough in the air.  Uno, due, tre Toss! Mama mia! I got good at miming how to toss pizzas, mind you not really tossing pizzas just pretending to toss them. Sufficiently skilled at this, I moved on to the heat of the matter.

The kitchen fireplace had a gas starter, which meant it would be easy to build the fire. Plus we still had ½ a cord of wood in the woodpile to feed the pizza baking flames. Mama mia! I was ready to go!

With the sun high in the sky I looked at my recipe’s cooking instructions. For best results it stated I needed to get the heat of my pizza oven anywhere from 600 to 800 degrees F. I double-checked the numbers. Yep, the thing had to be hot enough to solder metal, melt magnesium or destroy the Death Star. But how was I going to get a wood-burning fireplace, without a door—in my kitchen?!—up to those hellish temperatures without melting my face off?!

After lunch I re-evaluated my pizza plan and gazed at my Electrolux gas oven. My beloved, gorgeous gas range + oven; of course! Why build a pizza oven when I already had an oven? I danced across the room to the oven’s control panel, which stated it could bake up to 550 degrees but no higher. Pizza maldita! My homemade pizza making was doomed. As I cursed in Italiano and beat my chest in anguish I remembered an article in the LA Times newspaper about using your home oven to mimic a pizza oven.

I retrieved the clipped recipe and discovered that you could convert your oven to a pizza oven by adding heat absorbing bricks that would increase the temperatures anywhere from 600 to 800 degrees F. Magnifico!

I jumped in my car and raced to Hollywood’s brickyard to buy said bricks. I purchased eight unglazed clay bricks (six split, two straight) then back in my car, with the sun shining and the top down, I felt like a superhero that had saved the day’s plan of homemade pizza for dinner. Bravo me! Dramatically I inched home in rush hour traffic.

The last item I needed for a complete home oven conversion to restaurant pizza oven was a pizza stone to bake the pie on. A pizza stone, especially designed to bake the crust from the center of the pie out, was crucial to good tasting pizza. I stopped at several stores but struck out in the stone department. Dios mio!

As the moon rose over the horizon I got online and ordered a pizza stone.  I got the fastest shipping possible but would still have to wait over 24 hours for my supplies to arrive. In addition I had to find something else to eat tonight. When Mr. Wonderful came home I greeted him with cold egg salad sandwiches.

“What happened to homemade pizza for dinner?”
“I was too—
“... ambitious?”

I hate it when he’s right. But next week, we’ll have homemade pizza for dinner! Mama mia!