wood-fired pizza

How to cook a New York-style pizza in a wood-fired oven

Establish the fire and let it burn for 1 1⁄2 to 2 1⁄2 hours to allow the oven to reach the desired temperature allowing the inner surfaces of the oven to absorb the heat. Once the desired temperature is reached and the fire has burned down to coals, push the coals to the sides or rear of the oven, and cook directly on the floor, in the area of the oven where the fire had previously been burning. An infrared thermometer is a useful accessory for wood-fired oven cooking, as it can test the temperature in several areas of the oven, identifying the hottest spots in the oven before you begin cooking. A traditional New York-style pizza has a thin crust and a thin layer of toppings. These pizzas are typically cooked at 600°F or hotter, and cook for a short time, often 3 – 6 minutes.

Using a long-handled paddle called a peel place the pizza directly on the floor of the wood-fired oven. Using the peel rotate the pizza as needed. The crust will brown unevenly unless you turn the pizza. The final step is to raise the whole pizza toward the roof of the oven with the peel, this uses the intense heat at the top of the oven to put one last bit of brown on the cheese and toppings.

INGREDIENTS (1 twelve inch crust)

2⁄3 cup water (11O°F to 115°F)
1 teaspoon sugar
1⁄8 ounce package fast rise yeast or 1⁄8 ounce package active dry yeast
1 3⁄4 cups all-purpose flour or 1 3⁄4 cups bread flour
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cornmeal (optional)

Directions

Combine water and sugar in small bowl; stir to dissolve sugar.
Sprinkle yeast on top; stir to combine.
Let stand 5 to 10 minutes or until foamy.
Combine flour and salt in medium bowl.
Stir in yeast mixture.
Mix until mixture forms soft dough.
Remove dough to lightly floured surface.
Knead 5 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic, adding additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, as needed.
Place dough in medium bowl coated with nonstick cooking spray.
Turn dough in bowl so top is coated with cooking spray; cover with towel or plastic wrap.
Let rise in warm place 30 minutes or until doubled in bulk.
Punch dough down; place on lightly floured surface and knead about 2 minutes or until smooth.
Pat dough into flat disc about 7 inches in diameter.
Let rest 2 to 3 minutes.
Pat and gently stretch dough from edges until dough seems to not stretch anymore.
Let rest 2 to 3 minutes.
Continue patting and stretching until dough is 12 to 14 inches in diameter.