I am not sure why it never crossed my mind to season the jalapenos before cooking with them, specifically in oil. I wonder why we don't pre-salt a lot of vegetables before cooking? It makes plenty of sense now that I'm thinking about it.
We took our broccoli rabe and sweet and spicy sausage pasta sauce and slathered it on a NY style pizza crust. The dough and the sauce harmonized and elevated each other. It has me wondering why we haven't been using more pasta sauces on our pizzas.
We continue to work on our hybrid interpretation of Colony Grill-esque bar style and St. Louis style cracker pizzas. The drive to create the perfect thin crust is both a want and a need for an instant impromptu pizza, in combination with a canvas for cheese-centric topped pie. We stretch the dough on oiled steel pans and then layer on the toppings. For our pepperoni we started with provolone, added sauce, fresh mozzarella and, finally, the pepperoni. The result was a tender, generously topped pizza that satisfied our pizza craving while still falling short on replicating the style we are chasing. Time to tinker some more.
There are certain processes in the kitchen that are magical. Making dough is one. Whether it's bread or pasta dough, the action of transformation is always striking. As you know, we tinker, we play. We are always changing up ingredients and working off ratios to create something new and delicious. But every now and then, often when we're teaching a workshop, we go back to the basics. We make the original semolina pasta dough that we created for the pasta extruder and the no-knead pizza dough from our first book, Ideas in Food, Great Recipes and Why They Work. Every time we do, we are reminded of how special those original recipes are. You need a solid foundation to support your creative endeavors. Perfectly extruded pasta has a weight to it, it has texture from the combination of heat and pressure inside the machine forcing the flour and water through the die, creating a soft, yet rough pasta. The myriad shapes cook up into a silky, toothsome bite that holds on to sauce and highlights anything you choose to serve beside them. Great pizza dough feels alive beneath your fingertips. It is supple and elastic, there are air bubbles and the dough itself seems to breathe. Eating that homemade pizza, where the crispy air bubbles shatter beneath your teeth, giving way to tender, chewy dough, which highlights the salty, creamy cheese and the acidic bite of tomato is an experience to be savored. Every time we go back to the basics it's a reminder of what cooking is all about.
Here is the updated recipe and process that resulted from our recent bout of tinkering.
Pizza Dough 2017
700 grams all-purpose flour
150 grams smoked all-purpose flour
50 grams durum/semolina
21 grams salt
1.5 grams instant yeast
600 grams water
28 grams olive oil
Combine the all purpose flour, smoked flour, durum flour, salt, and instant yeast in a large bowl. Whisk them thoroughly to blend. Pour the water and olive oil into the bowl and mix with a a rubber spatula. It will form a shaggy mass. Use your hands to pull the dough together into a bowl, roughly kneading it into a ball. Put the dough into a covered container and let it hydrate for 20-30 minutes.
Once the dough has hydrated, use your hand to pull one corner of the outside of the dough into the center and press it lightly into the dough. Then give the bowl a quarter turn and repeat the folding process. Do this 4-5 times, working around the circumference of the dough ball until all of the outside edges have been folded into the center. Flip the dough ball over and let it rise in a covered container for 4-6 hours.
Knock the dough down and repeat the folding process. After you've flipped the dough and let it rise in a covered container for 8 hours.
Knock the dough down and fold again. Let the dough rise in a covered container for another 4 hours. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter top. Divide the dough into 6 portions, 260 grams each. Use the same folding technique that you used on the dough to shape the individual dough balls. Lightly flour 2 half sheet pans and place the dough balls, seam-side down on the flour. Lightly dust the surface of the dough with more flour and cover each pan with another inverted half sheet pan. Let the dough rise 3-4 more hours, until you are ready to make pizza.
We started with our no-knead pizza recipe. Over the years we have reduced the hydration. We have increased the salt to increase flavor and texture of the dough. We use a percentage of smoked flour in the dough. We have added some durum to the flour blend to provide a bit more bite and structure to the dough. We incorporated olive oil to enhance elasticity. We removed the sugar.
Yesterday we made pizza with these adjustments. The dough was light and fluffy. It was crispy on the outside and tender and custardy on the inside. The pizzas were delicious. They were enjoyable. They were smile worthy. We like to cook our pizza at 600°F. Our pies develop more char and blister faster when there is a fresh log on the fire. I like these results.
We were introduced to Detroit Style pizza in Tony Gemignani in The Pizza Bible. The pizza, made in a specific pan, is cheese and dough-centric with characteristics of extra caramelized bits of both. The pan allows for the creation of these elements. It allows for the constructing of these pies. In actuality the pan is both a safety net and a catalyst for creativity. The pan allows us to let a dough rise in place and be built upon heavily. The high sides prevent overflow and the solid construction prevents warping during the cooking process. The pan was the spark for revisiting molded pizzas. The idea of more browned bits and excessive toppings excited me. We used the pans to build our version of a pan pizza.
We used our no-knead pizza dough, with 50% bolted spelt flour, from Ideas in Food: Great Recipes and Why They Work. We oiled the pans with olive oil. We divided the risen dough between the pans. and roughly shaped it in the bottoms. We let the dough rise in the pan and fill the voids. When the dough was bubbly and risen we added toppings. In one pan we used cooked sauce, provolone and mozzarella cheese. In the other pan we used seasoned hand crushed tomatoes, gruyere cheese, artichokes, onions, sausage and fresh mozzarella. We put the pizzas in our convection oven at 500°F on a Baking Steel and cooked the pizzas for 17.5 minutes and 20 minutes respectively. We rotated the pizzas top to bottom halfway through the cooking process.
When they were done, w removed the pans from the oven, ran an offset spatula around the edges and slid the pizzas out and on to our cutting board. The result was rich decadent dough flavored with excessive toppings and plenty of caramelization. We have made plenty of pan pizzas before in sheet pans and even baking dishes. But it felt easier, simpler and more controlled in the Detroit Pizza Pans. I'm sure some of that was a placebo effect. But plenty of it was the pan itself. And the combination of the two created an incredible pizza experience.
When creating our impromptu pizzas we rely heavily on our pantry. We had delicious acidic canned artichokes on hand. We had a hefty slice of Challerhocker and of course we had pepperoni. The result is the rich, bright, spicy pie. A well stocked pantry provides for the cook.
If you are making pizza at home, heck or in your restaurant kitchen in a modified setting, Baking Steels will up your game. The heat transfer of the steel allows for more efficient pizza cookery. Two books have upped our baking steel cookery game. In The Pizza Bible, the technique is to use two steels, starting on the top and then going to the bottom to finish cooking. If you don't happen to own two, in The Elements of Pizza, one steel is placed on a rack close to the broiler. It is heated by the broiler and upon cooking, the oven is turned back to 500°F. Both methods work beautifully and allow us to create beautiful pies on days when we don't want to be outside feeding the wood burning oven.
I am not a square pie guy. The idea of the thicker crust throws the whole ratio of great pizza off in my head. We went to a local pizza restaurant. Their signature pie is A Brooklyn, a square pizza with hand crushed tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil. Their signature, signature pie is a Drunken Brooklyn. That pie is the The Brooklyn with vodka sauce added. When we went to order our pizza I knew we would not be getting this pie because it was a square pie, and I don't do square pies. Mind you, there square pies are not super thick dough bombs. They appeared to be stretched thin, in the style of most New York style round pies. As we were giving our order, Aki said "We'll be having a Drunken Brooklyn." I visibly stuttered, and responded "We are?" I was game and went along for the ride. I added pepperoni and meatballs to the pie and we waited for it be made.
The restaurant was busy. In fact it was a crazy, insanely popular BYOB pizza joint on a Friday night. When the pie was ready we zipped home to our peaceful kitchen and unboxed it. As we drove from point A to B we were tantalized with the aroma of the vodka sauce on the pie. It had a richer deeper aroma. It had a decadence on the nose. It drew me back to my childhood where penne a la vodka was my go-to special occasion dinner of choice.
When we got in the door we pulled down some plates, threw off our jackets, poured some beers, and dug into the pie. It was good. Really good. Vodka sauce on pizza is a brilliant idea. It adds a richness and decadence to the pie. It is hot fudge sundae good. It is not a sauce for every night or every pizza. But its over the top appeal made we wonder why we had never tried this before.
We continue to tweak and tinker with our pizza. On Friday we, Aki, put together a stunning batch. Our pizza dough is no-knead. We let it rise for 24ish hours. We refrigerate the dough after rising to firm it up and make it easier to shape. We shape our dough into 210 gram portions. After shaping we hold the dough in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. But usually we are making pizza soon. We pull the dough out of the refrigerator 2 hours prior to our cook time. This gives it plenty of time to come to room temperature, soften and rise one last time.
We needed a way to highlight the finished gochujang nduja. Pizza was the perfect medium. The fat warmed and caramelized and then there was spice and heat to balance the rich flavor of the pork and a hint of acidity from the fermentation process. All this against a crispy, chewy crust with a little char from the wood smoke, the sweetness of the fresh tomato sauce, and creamy softness of the mozzarella. The pizza with nduja was a delicious experience to be savored one bite at a time.
We started with pizza dough. We stretched it into longer rectangles. We took cake pans and put sauce and cheddar cheese in the bottom of the pan. We lined the pizza dough with sauce, salumi, and mozzarella cheese. We rolled the pizza up cinnamon roll style. We cut the roulade into 8 pieces and arranged them in the cake pan. We let the dough rise for another 30 minutes.
Then we baked the rolled pizza for 25 minutes at 500°F on the baking steel in our oven. When we pulled the pans from the oven, the pull apart pizzas were crisp, charred and melty. The cheese and sauce combination on the bottom of the pan did not release as I planned. It mostly stuck to the pan. The pull apart pizza did slowly fall out of the pan, with a little assistance from a small offset spatula.
We flipped them over onto a clean plate and grated smoked parmigiano reggiano over the them. The top was crispy and crunchy. The rolls were soft and tender, rich with salumi and cheese. The pull apart pizza has potential and needs further refinement. It needs to reach the point where it's as good, if not better than pizza proper.
We started with this weeks version of our pizza dough. We added our sauce: Cento tomatoes are hand crushed with 0.75% salt mixed in. We added sprinkled grating mozzarella and cubes of fresh mozzarella. Then we added slices of our luchito salumi. The end result, that disappeared before we thought to grab a camera, ate like a Mexican pepperoni pizza. All was good with the world. We'll definitely be making that one again.
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