Cookers 8ft. Pizza -
Mobile Wood-Fired Pizza Hondo,
"Where the Toppings
ADY - Active Dry Yeast.
ALL TRUMPS - A high gluten
flour made by General Mills, very commonly
used by pizzerias in New York. To the best
of my knowledge, it comes in two varieties:
Bromated and unbromated. (If you strive to
make an authentic NY style pizza, you want a
ANODIZED - I really don't
know what anodized means, but I assume it
has something to do with anodes. When this
word is used to describe pizza pans, it
refers to a dark coating that was applied to
the pan in the factory.
AUTOLYSE - Basically to
autolyse ("auto-leese") means to mix only
the water and flour from a dough formula and
let it sit for a while before adding the
remainder of the dough ingredients and
mixing completely. Usually when I see people
mention autolysis on the internet, they're
actually talking about making a pre-ferment,
BAKER - Someone who bakes.
Chefs, bakers, and pizzaioli (pizzamakers)
are all different things.
BAKERS' PERCENTAGES (or bakers'
percents) - A system of notation
in baking. Read
the basics of bakers' percentages.
BRICK OVEN - A marketing
term, not an actual type of oven. Although
some ovens are made of brick, when I hear or
read someone using the term 'brick oven,' I
don't know what they're talking about. I
assume they don't know what they are talking
about, either, or they're trying to pull one
over on me, because ovens that are actually
made of brick are not called 'brick ovens.'
Rather, they are called wood-fired ovens,
which is a better marketing term than 'brick
oven' anyway. If a pizzeria tries to lure
you by advertising their "brick oven," I'd
say it's a safe bet that they make crap
pizza and they try to rely on the
gullibility of chump consumers to keep them
BROMATED - Some flours are
bromated, which means potassium bromate has
been added to the flour. I have a very
limited grasp of what this means, but I do
know that bromated flours are essential to
making great NY style pizza.
BULK FERMENT - To allow an
entire batch dough to ferment (or rise) as a
large mass of dough before dividing and
scaling the dough into dough balls or skins.
CELEBRITY CHEF - A
celebrity with a cooking show who
confidently teaches you "the right way" to
make pizza. This includes Alton Brown,
Emeril, Tyler Florence, Wolfgang Puck,
Rachel Ray, and Bobby Flay.
CHEF - A professional cook.
CONVEYOR OVEN - Ovens
commonly used in chain pizza stores. They
have conveyors inside, made of linked metal
wires, which give each pizza a free ride
through the oven for a programmed length of
time and eliminates the need for a skilled
oven tender. As far as I'm concerned,
conveyor ovens are just industrial-strength
hair dryers. They're appropriate for any
pizza shop that wants to sell pizza that
requires no skill to create, but they cannot
produce a pizza with the same quality of
pizza baked in deck ovens or other ovens
without moving parts.
CORDIERITE - Probably the
most common pizza stone material.
CRUMB - The structure of
the inside of a baked pizza or bread.
CUTTER PAN - A flat pizza
pan with edges that angle up at about 45
degrees for about half an inch. Most
commonly used for Pizza Hut thin crust. It's
called a cutter pan because its design makes
it easy to cut a sheeted piece of dough into
a perfect circle with edges that angle
upward. Using a sheeted piece of dough
that's larger than the diameter of the pan,
all you have to do is place the dough on top
of the pan and use a roller to cut the dough
on the edge of the pan.
DECK OVEN - Gas or electric
ovens with no moving parts, usually with a
slab of stone as the hearth (or deck).
DEVELOP - Used in reference
to gluten. As dough is mixed, protein in the
flour forms gluten and builds something akin
to a chain link fence within the dough. At
first, there is not much of a gluten
structure; it's sort of like little pieces
of metal that bear no resemblance to a
fence. But as the dough continues to mix,
these pieces join together and begin to
resemble fence wires. Once enough "wires"
have been formed, they begin to intertwine
with each other and make the dough strong
like a fence.
DIVIDE - To cut a batch of
dough into smaller pieces that are
appropriate for specific sizes of pizza.
DOCK - To poke dough in a
regular pattern, in an effort to keep
bubbles from forming in the crust while the
DOUGH DOCKER - A tool with
a handle and several narrow spiked plastic
wheels. Used to poke certain types of dough
before they are baked, in an effort to keep
bubbles from forming in the crust while the
pizza bakes. Generally used on thin, sheeted
DOUGH BALL - The small
pieces of dough that are a product of
dividing a batch of dough. Usually when I
use the term 'dough ball,' I'm referring to
a piece of dough that has also been rounded.
Otherwise, I usually say 'piece of dough.'
DOUGH SKIN - A piece of
dough that has been rolled or stretched and
is ready to be topped.
FERMENT - Refers to the
chemical process of yeast eating simple
sugars in dough, thus creating carbon
dioxide and alcohol, which leavens dough and
gives the dough flavor. 'Ferment' can be
used as a synonym of 'rise.'
FORMULA - When using
bakers' percents, this is the expression of
how much of each ingredient should be used,
in relation to the total amount of flour..
GLUTEN DEVELOPMENT - The
process of protein in flour being
transformed to gluten strands, which become
a complex weave of these strands as the
dough continues to be mixed.
GLUTEN STRUCTURE - The
complex weave from the previous line.
GOURMET - A marketing word
used to trick you into thinking something is
good even though it's probably not. In
pizza, 'gourmet' also usually indicates that
a place sells pizza with unusual,
HIGH GLUTEN FLOUR - Flour
with a very high protein content, in
relation to every other type of flour
(usually about 13% to 14% protein). Used
mostly for NY style dough, but also used for
some other thin pizzas.
IDY - Instant Dry Yeast.
KNEAD - When I use the word
'knead,' I'm referring to the process of
mixing dough on a countertop by hand.
KNOCK DOWN - Generally used
to describe the process of turning a NY
style dough ball into a flat(ish) disc
before stretching the dough.
LEAVEN - To introduce air
into a dough or batter; to lift the dough or
MIXER BOWL - The bowl that
is used with a mixer, as opposed to any
other bowl, which I may use to mix
ingredients by hand.
NEW YORK STYLE - When I
mention NY style pizza, I'm talking about
the pizza you get from slice joints, which
is sometimes referred to as a "street
slice." There is another NY style, though,
which is often referred to as "elite" style.
This style of pizza is baked in a coal-fired
oven and is not sold by the slice.
To better define NY style: NY style pizza
is made from a relatively soft, simple
dough, usually containing a small amount of
oil, using high gluten flour that does not
get bulk fermented. This dough is stretched
by hand and and peeled directly onto the hot
stone of a deck oven. It should be baked for
about four minutes at around 650 degrees.
Also, the sauce should be very simple.
Processed, pulpy tomatoes usually work
pretty well for me, but salt, sugar, basil
and oregano may be added. I've also heard
from a very reliable source that chicken
stock is the secret ingredient of great NY
style sauce, but for some reason I've still
never tried it.
NY style pizza dough is never bulk
NY style pizza dough is never rolled with a
NY style pizza is never baked on a pan or a
NY style pizza is never baked in a conveyor
If any of these things has been done, it's
simply not a NY style pizza.
Despite what you may have heard, NY style
pizza does not have to be made with New York
City tap water to be authentic. That's
probably the second biggest pizza myth,
behind the cornmeal-in-deep-dish myth. The
real reason why it's hard to get "authentic"
NY style pizza outside of New York is
because there simply aren't many people
outside the east coast who possess as much
NY pizza knowledge as the typical New York
pizzaiolo (or in some cases, the pizzeria
OIL - When I say 'oil'
without indicating what kind of oil, I
usually mean oil in general or I mean the
kind of oil I've already mentioned earlier
in the post.
OVERMIX - Referring to
dough. If you mix dough to full gluten
development, you've probably over mixed it.
This dough will likely be tough or hard,
unless you've over mixed it so much that
you've begun to break down the gluten
structure. Don't know if I've ever done
PAN GRIPPER - A tool used
to remove pans from the oven. There are at
least a couple different types of pan
gripper. When I worked at Pizza Hut a long,
long time ago, they used two different types
of pan gripper. One was specially made for
deep dish type pans, and the other was
pliers (for the cutter pans).
PAR-BAKE - To bake a dough
skin for about 3-5 minutes, usually without
any sauce or toppings on it. When
pizza skins are par-baked, they must cool
down before being topped with
sauce, cheese, and toppings. After this, the
whole thing is baked again. I have yet to
find a good reason to par bake any kind of
pizza skin because to me it causes more
trouble than it prevents, it's
ridiculously inefficient, and it does not
create a better pizza than any other set
of baking procedures.
PEEL (noun) - A pizza
paddle. There are various kinds of peel,
with the most common being a simple wood
peel. A wood peel is usually used as a base
to build a NY style or Neapolitan pizza,
then as a vessel to transport the unbaked
pizza to the oven, at which point you
quickly pull the peel and leave the pizza on
the stone surface of the oven.
There are also metal peels, which can be
used to retrieve pizza from the oven and/or
as a surface on which the pizza may be cut.
For Neapolitan pizza, there are also small
turning peels, which are important to make
sure the pizza gets baked evenly. I think
there are also metal launching peels, as
PEEL (verb) - The act of
using a peel to insert an unbaked pizza into
PERFORATED PAN - Any pizza
pan with dozens of small holes in it.
PIZZAIOLO - This means 'pizzamaker,'
but it's some other language that I don't
PIZZAMAKER - Someone who is
knowledgeable about pizza and well-practiced
at the specialized discipline of baking
pizzas. Specifically not a chef and not a
PRE-FERMENT - A partial
mixture of any formulation's flour, water,
and yeast. Usually this mixture is allowed
to ferment overnight or for 24 hours, then
the remaining ingredients are added and the
dough is fully mixed. Some types of
pre-ferment are poolish, biga, and sponge. I
can't really tell you the difference between
one type of pre-ferment and another.
PROOF - Usually 'proof'
means to store sheeted or stretched dough in
a warm environment, like a proofer, to let
it rise, thus giving the baked pizza a more
airy, bready texture than a pizza that's
baked immediately after shaping. An example
of pizza that gets proofed is Pizza Hut pan
PROVE - Adding yeast to a
small amount of water both to hydrate the
yeast and to give the yeast a chance to show
that it's still alive and will effectively
leaven the pizza or bread you intend to
make. If the yeast is good, it will form a
foamy layer on the top of the yeast water.
Most commonly done with active dry yeast
because instant yeast does not need to be
RECIPE - I don't use this
word much because the word 'formula' is
usually more appropriate. But when I
translate a formula into a specific batch
size, I use the word 'recipe.'
RETARD - OK, finish
laughing now. 'Retard' means to slow down
yeast activity by refrigerating dough. Even
though you've always been told to let dough
rise in a warm environment, it is very
common to retard pizza dough.
ROUND (noun) - A dough ball
that has been rounded and tightened.
ROUND (verb) - To take an
oddly-shaped piece of dough and make it
round (and tight).
SAME-DAY DOUGH - (Or
emergency dough.) Any dough that is intended
to be used the same day it's mixed. Usually
contains a higher yeast content than a
similar dough intended to be used at least a
day later. Also, same-day dough is usually
- Synonymous with 'weigh.' To use a scale to
make sure you're using the right amount of
an ingredient or dough.
SCRAPS (or SCRAP DOUGH) -
When making a sheeted (or rolled) dough
skin, you usually have to start with more
dough than is required for the pizza. You
roll the dough to a larger size than the
skin needs to be, then you use a pan as a
template to trim the excess dough, making
the skin both round and the proper size. The
discarded dough is what I call 'scraps' or
'dough scraps.' I almost always refrigerate
scraps immediately after I trim, then I add
the scraps to my next batch of dough. If
there is no next batch of dough, I sometimes
use the scraps to make a wing-it pizza. Most
notably, I tend to use scraps for Tommy's
SCREEN - A rigid aluminum
device similar to a pan but with a meshy
structure. You can see screens in some of my
pictures of pizzas just after they've been
baked. I use them mostly as a cooling rack
to keep water vapor from condensing on the
bottom of hot pizzas straight out of the
SEASON - To coat a pan with
a thin layer of oil, then bake the pan so
the oil will burn onto the pan and darken
the pan. Dark pans attract heat, leading to
a shorter bake time, while light-colored
pans reflect heat, leading to a longer bake
SEASONED - Refers to a pan
that has had a thin layer of oil baked onto
it, making the pan darker.
SKIN - A piece of dough
that has already been rolled or stretched
and is ready to be topped.
SMOKE POINT - The
temperature at which oil begins to smoke and
STONE - Pizza stone or
UNDERCRUST - The bottom of
a baked pizza.
UNDERMIX - To mix dough for
a shorter length of time than might seem
necessary. I've evolved to a point where I
under mix most of my dough.
YEAST WATER - A small
amount (maybe 20%) of the overall water
you've measured for a batch of dough.
Obviously you add yeast to this water, to
hydrate and prove the yeast. When the water
becomes foamy, you know your yeast is both
alive and hydrated. If you use an abundance
of water, the water will not become foamy,
even though the yeast is probably fine.