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Perfect Loaf Review

The Perfect Loaf is the creation of Maurizio Leo, a software engineer turned baker, and documents his obsessive journey into the delicious depths of sourdough. It is the perfect marriage between the analytical nature of an engineer and the passion of a lifelong foodie on a never-ending quest to improve and share his gained knowledge along the way. Winner of a plethora of awards, including the Saveur Reader’s Choice Food Obsessive Award in 2016, The Perfect Loaf is a must-see for anybody even remotely interested in baking and has placed Maurizio Leo as a foremost authority on the subject. Have a look here. In August 2017 Maurizio had a deeper look at a wholewheat sourdough pizza using Roccbox, check out what he had to say about it.

introduction

A pizza addict. Me. The person writing this post. The person slinging these pies and taking these photographs. I do have a problem, but do I need help? Asking for help is the first step. But I don’t want help, especially with pizza this good. And besides, I have some dough in bulk fermentation right now, I couldn’t possibly let it go to waste. Ok, one more round of pizza, I’ll write this post, then take a good long break, ok? Deal.

The Addiction means I’ve made some form of this pizza dough at least once, sometimes twice — or even thrice — a week since midsummer. One might think my desire to eat all this pizza would wane, after all, how much pizza is too much pizza? As it turns out (and as evidenced on Instagram), my upper bound on pizza consumption never really materializes. This is not because of some twisted gluttony I have for pizza, it’s just simply because it’s so good, and so dang easy.

The nighttime rote of mixing my ripe sourdough starter with flour, water, and salt — an all too common scene in my kitchen as the sun sets. The naturally leavened dough is just so easy to put together. It’s so forgiving and flexible. I mix everything in the mixer, do a short bulk fermentation on the counter, then toss it into the fridge. I take it out the next day when convenient. Then, I divide, shape, and proof the dough until it’s time to start the pizzaiolo dance in front of the fire. It’s an easy solution to lunch, dinner, or impromptu gathering at the house — the perfect food.

“Thirty percent whole grains in this dough means not only increased nutrition, but also a lot more flavor”

But pizza, in all its perfection and potential for a myriad of toppings beyond what’s conventional, also has another element that is only sometimes experimented with: the dough. I’ve talked about my sourdough pizza dough in the past, and I wanted to take that recipe and modify it to not only incorporate more whole grains for flavor, but also nutrition. I started with the modest 10% whole wheat of that recipe and slowly increased it over time. I finally settled at a point where the flavor of the dough was amplified but the aesthetic of a traditional pizza was not compromised. Thirty percent, that’s a lot of whole grains by most pizza standards — and I know you’ll enjoy the additional flavor the added whole grains bring to each bite.

With all these added whole grains I taste a hint more acidity and sourness in the crust, not enough to be overwhelming but enough to add depth and interest. This added complexity plays well with just about every topping selection I could throw on a pizza. More on all of this below, but first let’s talk about ovens.

Roccbox Gas/Wood Fired Oven

I was lucky enough earlier this year to get in on a preorder for a Roccbox, a small gas (and wood) fired oven that I’ve successfully brought up to temperatures nearing 950°F — enough to cook a pizza in minutes. To say I’m in love with this little oven would be an understatement. It’s just a fantastically designed piece of equipment, and oh so convenient. Upon lighting, I can have the oven at max temp in 30-45 minutes and ready for the first pie. I prefer to keep the oven deck at 900°F, which usually means I turn the oven down midway through my bout of pizza slinging. That’s a novelty: having to turn down the oven because I want it cooler.

The oven is the perfect apparatus for cooking high fired pizza. I’ve tested making back-to-back pies and the recovery time (the time it takes for the deck to get back up to max temp) is surprisingly fast. The time it takes me to flour, stretch, top and load the next pie is all the oven needs to recover.

Another neat feature of the oven is that it comes with two small canisters that swap in and out at the back. One canister provides fuel via propane and the other allows you to load wood pieces into a hopper for burning. I’ve not experimented with the wood hopper yet, the gas option gets so hot and provides such steady heat I’ve had little reason to experiment.

You’ll notice the oven is propped up on 3 extremely sturdy fold out legs, this means it’s actually quite portable. It is heavy, but the included strap that hugs the deck means I can lug this oven with me to a “guy night” or weekend party at the park. It’s also convenient in that I can setup my pizza making station on my patio — or heck, in my garage in poor weather — in any way I want.

If you’ve been considering a wood fired oven but haven’t yet made the plunge, I’d highly recommend checking out the Roccbox. I’ve been using it so, so often this summer for recipe testing and the weekend pizza party — it’s just fantastic.

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