Me, Bjorn Sjogren at my Pizzeria Viking in Elroy, Wisconsin 2004 - 2008
The art on the wall is of my creation. The top one is Pastel and the one below is Fragrance
Interested in the art? Please visit ArtbyBjorn
This simple item, the pizza screen, changes everything to the better. And having made that discovery, your next discovery is that you actually don't need a pizza oven.You can make pizza better than most professionals, using your own oven. It is however true that the way pizza once was created, in Naples Italy, a wood fired oven was most likely what was used. As there was no other ways to make it.
However, a wood fired pizza oven of today is just a gimmick. Just as pizza stones are. The simplest way to explain why they are no good is like this. Dough is living material, so is your hand. Place your hand on a hot surface and you burn yourself. The same happens with the dough.
An ordinary pizza oven is set on 550 F.
A wood fired pizza oven is on around 800 F. Some people claim it has to be really hot to produce a crispy bottom. Not true, with the recipe I have used professionally to
bake and sell more than 100.000 pizzas, you can make a thin crispy crust pizza at 475 F, Though 500 F is advised when you make it in your own, everyday oven
And what makes it possible is the function of what is called a pizza screen, In 1983,
I created a Teflon coated form of thin aluminum and what that function made to the pizza - changed EVERYTHING.
That function was in 1987 copied by Chicago Metal Craft when they made their own version of it.
By using a pizza screen, it takes a bit longer time for the heat to reach the dough, and with that the dough actually bakes. Some say it is the airflow under the pizza. I doubt that as my forms was flat and no airflow possible...and today's pizza screens produce no different result than the ones I created in 1983
So, what you need apart from the screens and any oven reaching 500 F / 260 C is the following. High gluten flour, vegetable oil (NOT olive oil - the reason is simple. Olive oil has a taste of it's own), a simple yeast mix consisting of yeast, salt and perhaps some sugar, lukewarm water. That's it. Some add a number of different ingredients.
But there is no need for that.
Keep it simple!
Wall of Fame
During all the time I have been making pizzas, and by now the amounts of pizzas made, is well exceeding 100.000 pizzas, I have always got compliments like "Can't you come to Stockholm, Baltimore, Kansas City, Madison, Phoenix etc etc and show them how to make pizza".
So I figured it was time to get it all in writing so I created My own Wall of Fame. Here are some of the comments from January - May 2007
The pizza was magical & made us feel deliciously happy!
Mary Murphy, Glenview, Illinois
Thanks for the great pizza!
It's the BEST I've ever had!
You'll see us Back!!
Cindy & David Hall & Lucy Marquart,
Linda & I come to Elroy just to enjoy your fantastic pizza. Your Restaurant is a unique dining experience we enjoy whenever possible. Keep up the great work and don't change a thing!
All The Best
Bob & Linda Johnson, Durand, Illinois
Viking Pizza may be the only place on either side of the Mississippi where it is possible to have incredible well dressed greens and authentic thin crust pizza served by a Swede! Thanks for a delicious dinner.
Maggie from Chicago
Best salad in Wisconsin!
Thanks for your special order.
Dory, Alpine Lake
This healthy pizza was not only healthy but delicious and I am from Chicago. Thanks!
Gloria McHale Ness
The pizza EXCELLENT! The wine WONDERFUL!
The conversation and opening up to
others who have so much to share through conversation & art PRICELESS!
Connie Zittman, Indiana
As a Chicagoan, I've had wonderful pizza. This pizza is better than any in Chicago!
And the salad is the best in Wisconsin!
Nancy O, Chicago, Illinois
Dear Bjorn ~
I love the "Healthy"
I love " Peas on Earth and The Egg"
I love the floor & I love Elroy
You have great PIZZA! Best Ever! My dad and I love to come in here anytime we can. Your paintings are cool too! I like the "Broken Fence"
Love Your paintings, every original+ Love the pizza because of the thin crust!!!
My favorite part though is the Zanzibar awesome ice cream!!
This was our first time here and I must say this was some of the best pizza I have had. Thank you for making it from scratch. The salad was also very good.
Thank You & God Bless
Big Lake, Minnesota
Thanks for being so special! Best pizza - Your artwork is great! MAY IT ALWAYS BE SPRING FOR YOU.....
Bjorn & Britta
Thank you for making our visit to memorable. Lovely people you are. Wonderful food & drinks & Art
I love your PIZZA!
Please never leave!
What a delightful surprise hidden in Elroy!!
great pizza & the Art is superb!
John & Sue
Thanks for the fantastic European pizza -
a real treat after a day of cycling. And the funny - looking garlic bread was excellent too!
Emily, St. Paul. MN
After living in Chicagoland and Europe,
I never expected to find great pizza in Wisconsin!
Excellent food & art work. If I am nearby,
I would love to stop by again!
Rob St. Paul, MN
Wonderful FOOD, Wonderful DRINK,
Wonderful MUSIC, Wonderful ART, Wonderful PEOPLE,
Paul Richardson. Hillsboro, WI
If you ever decide to move to Southern Wisconsin, please consider the Lake Geneva area. You would make a fortune! Best pizza varieties we've EVER had!
Best wishes, Carolyn & John
Best pizza ever. Tiramisu was a memorable experience.
You have pizza, dessert, alcohol & coffee!
Why do we have to leave?
Love Bologna Lips!
Every time we come we have a wonderful time and enjoy your fabulous food! This is a great restaurant!
Sharon R., Hillsboro, WI
Really great pizza! Wish you were in Iowa.
We enjoyed it very much!
John & Sharon J
The Best Pizza Ever!
Ethan Thorson age 9
We wish we had someone in Minneapolis who could make pizza with fresh ingredients and hand made crust. This shows in taste. I guess we just have to go to Elroy for the real thing.
Mike & Sharon Irwin, Bradley Park, MN
and so on and so forth.....
The Dough Recipe
Let's make one thing clear. There are as many dough recipes as there individually owned and operated pizzerias. And indivi- dually owned pizzerias are likely to produce a far better product than large chain operations. The reason is that a product from a chain pizzeria has to be the same where ever you consume it.
The same approach in the dough making
is it with large scale pizza making at resorts etc.
The way the dough is made at those operations are way different from how
the dough was made in Naples, Italy back in the days...
And also much different from the way dough is made at most family owned pizzerias.
Big pizza operators use a conveyor belt "oven". The pizzas go through a "tunnel" oven placed on a screen. Just another "proof" that wood fired whatever is just
a bad gimmick. I say bad as the result doesn't justify the investment.
Most family owned pizzerias still bake straight onto the stone. For those of you who do that and you read this, try pizza screens between the dough and the stone. The result is way better than you ever could imagine.
The difference is as obvious like black and white, night and day...
BUT, if you have already bought a brick oven or ... to your garden kitchen. May I suggest that you lower the heat till around 500-550 F and use screens.
The Calzone above, I made in one of my customer's oven... you can see that here.
I called it The Painted Calzone... thinking I could attract more viewers. That didn't work.
The information in the end of the video is not valid anymore