Ooni Karu- First Impressions

I rush to the door and see that brown box truck and my Ooni Karu was finally on my doorstep. I was impressed with the packaging and the quality of the build materials. The stone baking board is substantial trust me I have cracked several thinner stones and this one feels like it is going to last! I was able to unpack and set the oven up in roughly 30 minutes. Lots of packaging to recycle. I kept the bubble pack the stone came in and the brown paper insert that holds the oven in the box to move it safely. I am for sure going to move so if you are not planning a move then recycle the box but I would keep the bubble pack for the stone.

So my first fire ran super hot and torched the one side of the pizza you quickly learn this oven is bringing the real Neapolitan heat needed to your backyard. Later pizzas were cooked perfectly and you are able to time adding fuel to the oven to when you launch a pizza then you are able to cook it about 60 seconds.

I will be purchasing the gas adapter soon and will review the oven and give my thoughts on what are some pro-tips and must haves to make true Neapolitan pizza. I will also attempt some bread bakes and other pizza styles. Comment your questions or requests!

http://ooni.refr.cc/alexbienz

A

Thoughts about the Social Dilemma.

This past weekend I streamed the documentary on Netflix about the adverse effects of social media on our society and on us as individuals. Extremely enlightening. So I deleted all my Instagram and Facebook accounts. I already feel more present and aware of my mood. Which in the past few weeks as felt foggy to say the least. It’s about 3 days. Will I crack. Will I rejoin. Or will I just be.

Support Black Bakers

Bryan Ford is a baker who has a cookbook coming out soon called “New World Sourdough: Artisan Techniques for Creative Homemade Fermented Breads; With Recipes for Birote, Bagels, Pan de Coco, Beignets, and More”! He also has a Patreon and a website full of great information and recipes. https://www.artisanbryan.com/ A portion of profits Bryan donates to various causes to support ending racism and police brutality.

Pizza Friday Menu 5/29

Pineapple heat- red sauce, roasted jalapeno, grilled pineapple, ricotta, fresh mozzarella.

Margarita- red sauce, fresh mozzarella, evoo, basil.

BBQ Jackfruit pizza- Jackfruit, homemade bbq sauce, red onion, cheddar, mozzarella.

Mushroom- red sauce, baby Bella, fresh mozzarella.

Pizza Bianca- Lemon garlic white wine sauce, fresh mozzarella, ricotta, pesto.

Sweet Pizza- chocolate hazelnut spread and fresh berries.

Sourdough Pizza Party!

 

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Back in Septemeber, the sourdough baking bug had struck me, and apparently, I  was ahead of the trend that would be sweeping kitchens all pandemic long. In the time since cultivating my starter, I  have had a few folks ask how I  made it. I  referred them to this video. https://youtu.be/2FVfJTGpXnU I  like this method and I  found the video to be easy to follow and straight to the point. I  will recommend that whatever recipe you follow just always stick to that ratio of flour to water and it will work! Another protip is to get yourself a scale. This will take all the guesswork out of the process a gram of flour and a gram of water. They are both equal, a gram is a gram. So even if it always seems to be 201 grams of flour don’t sweat it, match it to 201 grams of water.  I  have a link to the scale that I  use every day from measuring my coffee beans to all sorts of ingredients it has helped me grow my skills in baking and try new recipes. OXO 1130800 Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale with Pull-Out Display, 11-Pound, Silver

 

First I  will provide a formula then talk about what I  do and if you have any questions or if I miss anything let me know in an email!

Levain Mix-

  • 100g of your mature sourdough starter
  • 100g of bread flour or Tipo 00 (Italian pizza flour)
  • 100g of whole wheat
  • 200g of water (room temp)

The final mix-

  • 850g of bread flour or Tipo 00
  • 150g of whole wheat
  • 610g of water (room temp)
  • 20g of salt
  • 200g of levain mix
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • flour for work surfaces
  • This will make about 8 balls of dough at 263g per ball.

Anyway fast forward to the global pandemic… flour, yeast, sugar, and most baking staples have flown off shelves. I  have my mature starter waiting in the back of the refrigerator ready to emerge from its temperature-controlled nap to get to work. I  will generally discard and feed on a Wednesday and use that discard to build a levain for a weekly ritual of inviting 2 people over to bake up anywhere from 6 to 8 crusts of a variety of toppings.

I am baking a two-part dough build and that has become something that I am fine-tuning and really on the verge of perfecting each batch. The first part is a 1-1-2 of starter, flour, and water. After the levain has had about 3 or 4 hours to double it is ready to have the remaining water, flour, and salt added into the mix.

In a large bowl add all of the levain then dissolve the salt into the water. I  get pretty hands-on with it and try to break up the starter in the water. Then add all the flour in gradually. Once all the flour has been hydrated let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes up to 30 minutes. After that period has expired it is time to begin to knead the dough. I guess I  should do a video to show these steps at some point too…

But for now, the kneading process is key! On a floured work surface turn out So take time to work the dough pressing it out and away and fold it back over on itself. This process should take about 15 minutes if you are doing it by hand. You will know the dough is ready for bulk fermentation if it springs back when you press it down.

If you are using a stand mixer( with the dough hook) you should let it run on low speed for about 5 minutes. I  let it rest for 5 and then turn the mixer back on low for a minute or two then turn it up to high. I have a 7 qt Kitchenaid low is 2 and high with the dough hook is 4. Speeds any faster aren’t recommended by the manufacturer.

Now it is time to enter into bulk fermentation. In a clean large bowl drizzle enough EVOO to coat the bowl and dough ball. Place your dough ball in the bowl cover and let sit of 3-4 hours or until it has doubled in size. The goal is that it has doubled in size and not a specific amount of time has passed. Typically I  set a 3-hour timer on my phone. Check the dough and then set a new timer of 45 minutes or an hour.

Next, I  get out a small container place it on the scale, and zero it out. I  just use this to keep my scale cleaner. Now turn your dough ball out onto a floured work surface. Using hands, a bench scraper or a knife cut your dough into balls that weigh 263g. You can just cut off what looks to be about an eighth of the ball and add or take away from the ball. If you are left with some extra dough split it up and share it with the other balls.

There are several ways to shape a dough ball. The goal is to have a round ball with a tight surface. So I  generally start by working the bottom into itself and t turn the ball on the bench or in my hands to seal it up. Once done with this step I  place on a flour sheet pan and flour the tops of the balls cover with plastic wrap or another sheet pan and let rest in the refrigerator of 24 to 48 hours minimum.

Remove them 2 hours before baking. Top with whatever you have laying around!

I  recommend using fresh mozzarella and making a red sauce from San Marzano tomatoes, a couple of leaves of basil, and salt. Blitz in a blender and it is ready for your pizza.

Bake in your home oven is possible! Max out the temp and use a pizza steel that has been preheating for about 45 mins to an hour… I  have personally cracked about 3 pizza stones so don’t bother getting one. The next bit of kit that makes it easy is a pizza peel linked below!

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Even my countertop convection oven turns out a mean pizza!

Happy baking a send me any questions or pictures of your pizza!

Alex

Gear Links-

Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Commercial Baker’s Half Sheet (2 Pack), Silver
OXO 1130800 Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale with Pull-Out Display, 11-Pound, Silver
Rubbermaid High Heat Scraper 9-1/2
Kitchen Supply 12-Inch x 14-Inch Aluminum Pizza Peel with Wood Handle
1/4 x 16″ x 16″ Steel Plate, A36 Steel, 0.25″ Thick

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Homemade Oat Milk

So y’all I gave it a shot to make a homemade plant-based milk. I choose oat milk for two reasons one I love coffee and I have heard it mixes well with coffee and secondly I have a can of oats in my pantry.

After much searching it seems like there are two camps. Soaking and not soaking. I opted to not soak my oats as I didn’t have a bag to squeeze the pulp out with and I read that it will make the oats slimy.

So this recipe isn’t to hard and fast you have a bit of wiggle room. So keep in mind that you can adjust the ingredients to make it fit your needs.

For a basic oat milk

1 cup of oats

4 cups of water

Pinch of sea salt or kosher salt

1 tsp Vanilla extrac optional

1 date (pitted) or 1 Tbsp of Agave Nectar (I eye balled a squirt of it into the pitcher and adjusted to my taste)

Put all items in a high-speed blender. Secure lid and blend on high for a minute taste for salt.

Pour into a nut milk bag and squeeze all your rage out of those oats.

If you are feeling creative make a chocolate version with a tablespoon of your choice of coco powder placed in as you are filling the blender with ingredients and blend it all together. Or throw some fresh berries in a batch for a berry delightful treat.

Make sure to label your milk with a date and use within 5 days.

Lost in loss

I think most of us have had something happen to us in our personal lives that have struck us in a way that has caused you to get lost. I feel that events like the.

I started this post on June 29th and got to where that last sentence ended. As I frequently do I put my writing down and let the thought breathe and see what else bubbles up and boy oh boy did some shit happen. Looks like I am turning this one from advice to holy shit the house is on fire and we need everyone to put it out. Okay, I am going to walk that back it isn’t that bad but still bad. On July 3rd, 2018 my father passed away suddenly from what was most likely cancer of some sort.

So there’s that… What do you do when someone who was a constant voice of advice, guidance, and support is gone? So this forces me to look at my life closely and what will his legacy be and how can I honor him and do what is best for myself too.  Is it about me or him?

I think it is about him maybe some of the lessons or things he taught me are meaningful to others. My father had this seemingly endless knowledge about how to build or make just about anything from framing a house to plumbing. I think one thing I never truly appreciated was he knew when to say I don’t know how to do this, but I know some who is an expert and can help.

So I went home at the end of August to celebrate his life and this was a time to face the reality of this loss. Which created more pain and hurt around this loss and is part of the reason why I held off publishing this.