Writings on curious recipes, food I've tasted around the world and the quest for finding the perfect blueberry muffin.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Pizza, how I crave it.



People, I am excited. Very excited.  I've finally perfected pizza at home, and this, after years of trying, is no small feat. 

You see, I've always enjoyed making pizza at home and I've always strived to get it pizzeria-like. I've experimented with the dough in more ways than I can possibly list (from adding a bit of olive oil, to a bit of honey, to white wine and combinations thereof, working with fresh and dry yeast, various flours - you get the point), and playing around with oven temperatures and shelves. 


And while the results have generally been quite good, and all pizza eaters were pleased - truth be told, it never actually tasted like a pizza from the pizzeria down the road. It was always slightly too thick and by the time the dough was cooked, the tomato sauce had almost entirely dried out. The sides never had those lovely little blisters, and, not that shapes really matter, but I could never get it to that rustically round shape. And square pizza - just tastes different. 


But then I came across this article. And knew I had to test the method: to sum up, you preheat an empty cast iron skillet on your stove and turn your oven's broiler on to full whack. You prep your pizza in the meantime, making sure it's not larger than the base of the skillet. When the cast iron skillet is dangerously hot (along with your entire kitchen, and you, yourself), using very good oven mitts, you put the cast iron skillet, upside down on the oven shelf, right under the broiler. Close the oven door, wait for a minute or two for everything to heat up again, and then, working quickly and carefully, slide the pizza onto the cast iron skillet. Close the oven door immediately, and watch the pizza closely. In about 1.5 to 2 minutes you will have a pizzeria-like, blisters and all, pizza.


The technique sounded pretty genius to me. And so I set out to try it.

I preheated everything, although I preheated the cast iron skillet in the oven instead of on the stove (simply because I forgot you were supposed to do it on the stove - I read the article a while ago!). And prepped my pizza. I like keeping things simple. Tomato sauce with a bit of salt and oregano, buffalo mozzarella, thinly sliced onions, olives. 



I carefully slid the pizza onto the skillet and waited. Because I didn't preheat the skillet on the stove it took about 5 minutes - but was perfect. Absolutely faultless. I don't know if it's better than the one at my all time favorite pizza place (though my friends think so), but it's hands down the best pizza I've ever had on this little island.


So excited, so very excited indeed.

And as for the dough I used to test the method? By now I know Peter Reinhart will never let me down. He's given me the best bagels, amazing English muffins and sandwich loafs. He just knows his doughs. If you are looking for one bread book to buy, then buy his. Really, I cannot recommend it enough. 


The perfect pizza dough
adapted very slightly from Peter Reinhart's Artisan Bread Everyday

Here are the measurements I used for the dough. For the instructions, on making and shaping the dough, check out Peter Reinhart's site. When it comes to baking I really, really urge you to try the technique I described above (and again below, in more detail)!

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680g // 5 1/3 cups of bread flour
14g // 2 teaspoons of salt
3g // 1 teaspoon instant yeast
28.5g // 2 tablespoons of demerara sugar (or normal sugar, or 1 1/2 tablespoons of honey)
482ml // 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons of water, at room temperature
28.5g // 2 tablespoons of olive oil

+ your favorite toppings (I always go for a simple tomato sauce with salt and oregano, thinly sliced onions, olives and buffalo mozzarella)

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About a half an hour before you bake the pizzas, turn your oven on to full blast (broiler function). 10 to 15 minutes before you bake your pizza, place an empty, clean cast iron skillet on your stove on high heat.  In the meantime, prep your pizza.

When the skillet is very, very hot - carefully, using very good oven mitts - place the skillet, upside-down under the oven's broiler. Wait a few minutes for everything to heat up again and then slide your prepared pizza directly onto the top of the skillet, directly under the broiler. Watch the pizza carefully, as it will bake very quickly and go from perfect to burnt rather fast!! In about 1.5 to 2 minutes, you'll have the perfect pizza.

Enjoy!!!


3 comments:

Grishma @ ZaikaZabardast said...

love ur crust!! I just feel like grabbing a slice right now and enjoy as my midnight snack..hhaha

littlemissdids said...

Thank you!! :)

Deborah Mascalzoni said...

Great recipe and tecnique.
I will definitely try it. I have got a pizza stone i still need to try, so i'll let you know.
Gunter signalized me your blog. It is really beautiful I am looking forward to your new entries. Greeting from Bozen :)

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