4 posts tagged pizza
4 posts tagged pizza
All homemade from scratch, including the tomato sauce and the 48 hour cold-fermented pizza dough.
Longtime readers will know that I’ve been practicing my pizza for a long time. Tonight, inspired by Smitten Kitchen, I unexpectedly made my best one yet: three cheese, shaved aspargus, and spring onion (that’s green onions to you USAians).
As before, I’m still using the Cook’s Illustrated NY pizza dough, although I’ve moved on to using Italian 00 pasta flour instead of bread flour now. I find this gives me a more pliable dough that’s easier to stretch and shape. I’m remarkably bad at getting the dough to anything vaguely approaching circular so that’s a good thing in my book.
I made this more-or-less according to the Smitten Kitchen method. I dotted the bare pizza crust with goat’s cheese…
I deliberately chose to chop, rather than grate, the first two cheeses. I prefer my pizzas to have a less homogenous texture than that provided by an even pillow of grated cheese. Your mileage, of course, may vary.
Next, I took my asparagus. Using a swivel peeler, I shaved each stalk down into ribbons — leaving the woody bit at the bottom of the stalk as a handle. I tossed these ribbons with olive oil, salt and pepper, and a pinch or two of red pepper flakes. I sprinkled these over the pizza…
…and baked at a really high temperature on a preheated pizza stone for 12-15 minutes or so.
When it came out, I sprinkled with finely sliced spring (green) onions…
…and there it is!
It’s pizza, so the quantities don’t matter very much, but for the record I used:
I was utterly unprepared for how delicious this was. Truth be told, I made it mostly because I had asparagus to use up. I thought it would be decent but I wasn’t expecting it to be so delightful. Plus, it tastes like Spring from beginning to end, and here in Wales we’re currently basking in sunshine after a week of solid rain. That probably helped my mood as I bit into it, too.
I served this with… Well, I’d love to confess we ate it with a side salad or something healthy like that. But in fact, I served it with another pizza! Specifically, Iberian ham and Portobello mushroom:
This was also good, although less good than the asparagus (sorry, noble Iberian pigs!)
For the tomato sauce, I tried a new recipe from Serious Eats; it came out better than the one I’ve used previously. I cut the sugar to half a teaspoon and added a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar. I like the extra depth of flavour the vinegar gives it. I found two UK tins of tomatoes (400 g each) made enough sauce for four 12” pizzas.
I was particularly pleased with how the crust turned out today:
(Thanks, as ever, to my long-suffering wife Danielle for pictures and help. —Rich)
My homemade pizza has taken a lot of practice, but I finally feel like I’m getting quite good at it now. This one was topped with chorizo, buffalo mozzarella and mushrooms with some fresh basil (added after baking so it wouldn’t burn).
I use the Cook’s Illustrated NY pizza dough recipe, with a 48-hour cold ferment. I usually halve the quantities in that recipe as it makes enough for two 12” pizzas. I had some problems initially with adding too much water and ending up with dough that was too sticky to work with; the trick seems to be to stop adding water when the flour in the mixer is just clumped together but before it starts to look like actual dough.
For sauce, I wasn’t as impressed with the Cook’s Illustrated one, which uses raw tomatoes and garlic. Instead I use a modification of Gwyneth Paltrow’s simmered-for-an-hour recipe (as reprinted by Dates & Quinces), but I include the red wine vinegar and oregano from the CI version. The proportions in the Paltrow recipe is enough for three 12” pizzas and it freezes well. Plus if you’re already planning two days ahead for the pizza dough then taking the sauce out of the freezer to defrost isn’t much bother!
To bake, I use my conventional oven set as high as possible (240 deg C / 480 deg F) with the dough resting on a thoroughly pre-heated pizza stone. I found my fan-assisted oven would overcook the edges of the pizza.
I top my pizzas with charcuterie (usually chorizo), fresh buffalo mozzarella, and one or two pre-cooked vegetables — typically mushrooms or peppers. Bell peppers can be conveniently roasted in the oven you are warming the pizza stone in, and work well if you drizzle them with a little balsamic vinegar first.
On my “try this” list is the combination of spicy n’duja with some cooling ricotta added post-baking, inspired by the rustica piccante pizza at Zizzi (which, although a high street chain restaurant, has a decent pizza selection and uses proper fresh dough and wood-fired ovens. Avoid the risotto, however.) —Rich
Today was my first attempt at making pizza according to Cook’s Illustrated recipe and my first time using my new pizza stone. It turned out pretty good.
Up until now, I’ve been using my breadmaker to make dough, and baking on a round baking sheet with holes in it. That comes out OK, but not great; the dough texture wasn’t as good as it could have been, and it tasted a little bland. It also refused point-blank to rise enough or to “leopard” into the dark and light spots so characteristic of good pizza.
In contrast to the 45 minutes it takes my breadmaker to make pizza dough from scratch, the CI recipe (which is behind a paywall, but reprinted at Serious Eats at the link above) calls for the dough to be made with ice water in a food processor then immediately go into the fridge for a cold fermentation — this batch was in there for 48 hours, and although the recipe only calls for a 24 hour fermentation it continued to rise a lot during that second day so I think the extra time was a good move. This long, slow fermentation gives rise to better gluten structure which in turn makes the dough far more elastic and easier to work with.
Shaping the dough was… an experience. That pic is of the second pizza I made and the first one looked a lot worse! There’s a hell of a lot of art to getting the dough thin enough without tearing it, and clearly I need more practice. If you want to come to my house and eat imperfect pizza while I get this figured out, you’d be helping me out a lot, is what I’m saying.
I don’t own a pizza peel (yet…) which means I had to transfer the naked dough to the incredible hot stone and top it in-place. This didn’t overcook the base that I could tell (I was worried about this) but did mean I almost burnt my fingers as I tried to place the dough down flat. I think a peel would be a good idea for the future, although by that point the amount of infrastructure in my kitchen devoted to pizza making would be becoming silly.
I also think I over-topped this a little; the centre of the pizza was wetter than I would have liked. It might not help that I didn’t have any canned whole tomatoes, so rather than make the tomato sauce the recipe calls for, I used Dolmio jar stuff. It tastes alright but I think it’s perhaps a little runnier than is ideal.
All in all though, I was very pleased with the result, and I’m going to be sticking with this recipe for the foreseeable future.
For more technical information than you can hope to absorb on home pizza making, I cannot recommend slice.seriouseats.com enough.