Thursday, January 27, 2011

another little pizza my heart

While its been only little over a week ago that I was singing praise for Peter Reinhart's neo-Naplotena dough recipe, after that post I felt maybe I was a little quick to settle.  If anything, I felt more inspired to experiment.  There are a bunch of recipes, styles, flour types, etc that I've been wanting to try and I'm feeling pretty motivated right now.

So here it is, three glorious nights (and two glorious leftover lunches) of pizza:


If each pie was baked in the same oven, using the same ingredients, and each dough was given the same length of time to rise, I'd be able to say that sunday night's dough was the control.  But seeing as none of these were constant, we'll just have to think of sunday night's dough as being familiar.  I made two pies using my 'stand-by' Peter Reinhart neo-Napoletana dough recipe glorified in my previous post on pizza. I allowed the dough to rise for 24 hours in my fridge and let it relax for one or two more at room temperature. At 24 hours, I had a great rise and a loose dough that baked into a fine crust - yeasty/bread-y, one of the better pies I've made with this recipe... although I probably could have salted the dough a little bit more.      

Mushroom pie - tomatoes, garlic, capers, fontina, taleggio, mozzarella, mushrooms, parmigiano


Monday night's pizza dough was made with "00" flour from Caputo.  I've been wanting to try this flour for some time.  This flour is super-soft and seems to be considered the only flour fit for pizza-making in Naples.  Finely milled winter wheat (sown in the winter, harvested in the spring - comparable in protein/gluten to APF), makes for a silky and light dough.  Having only a rough idea of where to start with this flour I found a basic recipe on fornobravo that I adapted a little bit.  Here's what I came up with:

  • 500g or 4 cups of "00" flour
  • 10g or 4tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp active dry yeast (plus approx. 20%more) bloomed in 1/4 cup hot water (under 140F) and about 1/8 - 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup water at room temp - plus 1 or 2T more if needed
  • 1 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 T honey
(The original recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups water + 2-3 T - I deducted 1/4 cup from this amount for blooming the yeast.  You'll also notice that the original recipe does not call to bloom the yeast at all.  If I were going for a long rise with this one (as you'll see in the next recipe) I might have gone ahead and just weighed it in to my mix without blooming, but I only had a a few hours and wanted to make sure my yeast was kicking... perhaps instant yeast would be an alright substitute for a shorter rise)

If you have a scale, weigh out your flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Otherwise, measure out.  Add olive oil and honey.  Bloom yeast for 5 minutes and once active, add to bowl with 1 1/14 cup water. You can mix the dough in a mixer (if you have one see original recipe) but I worked it by hand using a wooden spoon.  I used the same method for mixing as I did with Reinhart's dough: incorporating all ingredients until I had a rough looking dough, letting it rest for 5 minutes, and mixing by hand for an additional 5. Again, a sticky dough that should be tacky but release from the bowl and your hands.  I then shaped the dough into a ball and let it rise at room temperature under a damp towel for a little more than 2 hours - until doubled.

note: If I had the time, I would have given it a 12 - 24 hour rise in the fridge either here or at the last step, but I was eager to try this dough and knew I could still get good results out of a short rise.

I then punched down the dough, pushing the air out from the center.  I shaped it into a large ball and divided it into 3 equal pieces.  I then shaped each piece into a tight ball, set them seam-side down in a lightly oiled pyrex dish and covered them with a damp towel for another hour or so to rest.

Once the dough is relaxed and you're ready to make your pizza, handle it gently - it does not require much work.  When pushing from the center to form your pie you can feel, hear, and see the air being pushed outwards towards your crust - it's pretty cool and kind of helps you make sense of the crust phenomenon.

Margherita - tomatoes, mozzarella, basil:

Mushroom pie - tomatoes, garlic, taleggio, fontina, mushrooms

Close up of the goodness... peep the crust.

White and green - bechamel, fontina, caramelized onions, verde capra, topped with arugula 

By the last pie, the dough was even more relaxed and in turn required even less tossing. Overall, this was undoubtedly the best dough I'd made so far.  The crust on the first pie felt to be lacking the flavor of the bread flour dough I like so much, but by the third pie you wouldn't be able to tell.  A longer rise in the fridge would definitely benefit this dough.

Note to the buyer: If you're trying to get your hands on some "00" flour to bake some pies, you want the type suitable for pizza, not pastry - pastry flour will be lighter and develop less gluten.  The bags of "00" flour that are pizza-worthy usually depict a pizza on the packaging.  For this recipe, I used most of the contents of a 2.2lb bag of Antimo Caputo "00".  You're likely to find it at The/an Italian market.


When it comes to baking bread, I'm a big fan of the no-knead method.  Still a novice baker, I have followed a few different methods and techniques that involve kneading my dough and so far none produce results as fantastic, consistent, and frankly as easily as the recipes in Jim Lahey's book, "My Bread". When I look back on it now, I was hooked on Lahey's bread before I even baked my first loaf. I remember living in NY and how after a long day at the cheese shop I would sometimes return home with Pugliese and ciabatta loaves from Sullivan St. Bakery - I survived off of these for a good while. 

When the idea for three nights of pizza was coming together in my head (quite quickly at that, I resolved on it in a matter of milli-moments) I knew that I wanted one of the nights to feature a no-knead dough. And so I did a quick search for Co.'s recipe, and there it was - published almost two years ago in New York Magazine, Jim Lahey shares his dough recipe from his highly praised pizzeria, Co.:

3 cups APF or bread flour (I used bread flour)
1/4 tsp instant yeast (I used active dry without blooming)*
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups water (room temp)

*on yeast - Lahey writes, "The long fermentation I propose means that only a tiny amount of yeast is required, since it will have plenty of time to grow and do its job, and I've found that in such small quantities, it doesn't matter much whether you use instant or another type of active dry yeast.  A benefit to using a smaller amount of yeast is that it makes room for naturally occurring flavorful bacteria that are attracted to flour to enter into the equation during the 12 - 18 hour fermentation.  These bacteria attack proteins, which they metabolize into compounds that contribute to the acidic, complex flavors of a well-fermented bread dough." 

In a large bowl, mix the flour, yeast, and salt.  Add water and stir till blended. Dough will be sticky.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm spot, about 70 degrees, for 12 - 24 hours (I went the full 24 with this one).  

Then, dump the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, dusting the top of your dough with flour.  With floured hands, lightly pat it down and fold it over onto itself once or twice.   Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.  

[If you want to get an idea of what no-knead dough looks like at this or any stage and how to fold it, etc., peep the famous episode of Mark Bittman's The Minimalist with Jim Lahey here and maybe bake a loaf yourself!]

Cut the dough into three or four pieces depending how thin you want your crust/how small you want your pies.  I went for three. Round out each ball as you would in the previous recipes. Generously sprinkle a clean cotton towel with flour and cover the dough. Let rest for 2 hours.

Now, if you followed the link to the nymag page where the recipe was published, you'll read that they recommend preheating your oven on high broil with your pizza stone on the middle rack, removing the hot stone from the oven, and laying your dough out on top of it.  This to me seems a bit impractical, disadvantageous, dangerous (to you, your counter, and your crust), as well as just flat-out unnecessary. I made these pies the same old way - preheating my oven to 480 with the stone on the very bottom and topping my pies on a well floured/corn-meal-ed peel, ready for a toss into the oven.  I didn't always own a peel (or two) and before I did I would lay my pies on top a large cutting board or the underside of a serving tray - whatever you think would work, give it a try - thick cardboard from a pizza box might even do the trick.  Whatever you use, just make sure your pie will slide off of it with ease - use flour and corn meal!!!


Margherita - tomatoes, mozzarella, basil

Mushrooms and spinach - tomatoes, garlic, oregano, mozzarella, fontina, mushrooms, spinach, parmigiano

White - ricotta, mozzarella, fontina, caramelized onion, mushrooms, parmigiano


I thought I would note that this dough recipe is a bit different from the basic pizza dough recipe featured in his book - with a long rise at a warm temperature and with a fraction of the yeast, this recipe is more closely related to his breads than his pizzas from "My Bread".  Like his breads, this recipe makes for a terrifically light, airy, bread-y and flavorful crust.  

In shaping the pies, this dough was real malleable and produced fine results but it had a lot of elasticity. I found it not wanting to hold its shape as well as the "00" flour but had far more give than Reinhart's neo-Napoletana dough.  It would shrink a bit after each time I'd stretch it - despite all that time out at room temperature, it didn't seem fully relaxed.  Also, when pushing out the dough, the air did not want to go towards the crust - it felt sort of like trying to push out an air pocket behind wallpaper where you just keep pushing it around but never actually get it out.  I wonder if perhaps APF would be better suited to this method, that perhaps the protein in bread flour is just too high? STILL! Because of its flavor, structure, and texture, this dough was our favorite...  But! a really close call between monday and tuesday for sure.  Lahey's is certainly the easiest to make, it's just the waiting that's hard.  

MAN THIS PIZZA QUEST JUST NEVER FREAKIN ENDS!!!!!!! and you know, that's alright.

Next up - semolina, longer rise "00", whole wheat (eh?), blends!, no-knead APF? 

"You don't need a weather man to know which way the dough rises." - Bob Dylan

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