Standing Stone Brewing Company

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Behind the Scenes: Pizza Secrets & Our Wood-Fired Oven

If you’ve visited Standing Stone Brewing Company, you’ve probably noticed our wood-fired oven, since we built our kitchen with an open view of this hard-working beauty.

When we decided to open our brewery and restaurant, we knew we wanted to offer incredible wood-fired pizza. We sought out Alan Scott of Ovencrafters, a skilled, passionate and highly regarded craftsman, to design and build it. It’s fueled with sustainably harvested madrone, a fast growing tree that’s native to the Ashland, OR area. With its high heat, we bake pretzels, bread and other treats, too.

A recent Oregon Wine Press article spotlighted Standing Stone as one of the best places to get wood-fired pizza in the Pacific Northwest. Cheers to our chef, Eric Bell, and the kitchen crew, for cooking up innovation and quality, slice by slice. We thought we’d ask Eric to give us a peek behind the scenes and share pointers for perfect pizza.

What’s the secret to great pizza?

I would say the simple points are: a good oven, dough methodology, and knowledge (the most important ingredient) of what makes a great pizza are key.

The first secret to crafting great pizza is a great oven, and thousands of pounds of thermal mass. Alan Scott has such an incredible legacy as an oven builder that his name is mentioned at the San Francisco Baking institute during class lectures on oven types. That Standing Stone is home to an Alan Scott oven is a spectacular bonus to any chef/baker. Wow! To bake in an Alan Scott oven is only a dream for many. A pizza cooks best at temperatures between 750 and 900 degrees, and is cooked to perfection in a minute to a minute and a half.

How do you craft pizzas at Standing Stone?

I start with a single cold (retard) ferment that lasts a minimum of two days, and a maximum of five. This allows the flavors to develop. As the yeast consumes the starch, alcohol builds in the dough, and the gluten fibers strengthen. I use active dry yeast, the only yeast that is a live yeast cell surrounded by dead yeast cells. This is important as the dead cells act as “conditioners” that make the dough extensible – that is, it stretches out, and doesn’t snap back like a rubber band.

Our inspired Chef, Eric Bell

This method is Italian, and growing in popularity in the west. As such, I use what’s called a “00” grind flour, at about 9.5% protein. The tomato sauce is cooked only once – on the pizza, and I use tomatoes that are grown from the famous “San Marzano” seed.

What are some favorite ingredient combinations for wood-fired pizza?

Inspiration comes from the fire. Pizza cooked in a wood oven only tastes like it was cooked by fire if that pizza is lifted into the smoke towards the top of the oven. Anything that is complemented by that “smokiness” is desirable. Wild foraged mushrooms, leeks, smoked or aged cheeses & seafood are wonderful. Leafy greens like Nettle that caramelize in the heat and get “crispy” are magical, and we love them with Fennel Sausage and local goat cheese.

Stop by sometime to enjoy a wood-fired pizza, pretzel or other delights, and watch the action in our kitchen. We offer classic and innovative combinations, plus specials featuring seasonal ingredients. To experiment at home, dig into this delicious pizza making blog.

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0 comments on “Behind the Scenes: Pizza Secrets & Our Wood-Fired Oven

  1. Hi guys,

    Just found your link to my pizza blog here in your article. Thanks so much for the recommendation! Ashland isn’t so far from Chico, maybe I’ll come up and visit some day this fall.

    Thanks again guys!
    -Ryan

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