June 24, 2010

Food Friday: Pizza

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Pizza Napoletana
barbecue sauce, roasted garlic, flaked Thai chicken, chives, cilantro, and mozzarella

Pizza is one food that nobody doesn't like. It's probably the perfect food with the right toppings, of course. Having made pizzas from half a dozen dough recipes, including Neo-Neapolitan from Peter Reinhart's new book ARTISAN BREADS EVERY DAY, I am sticking with the one I think is the best for my preference in pizza dough, Peter Reinhart's Pizza Napoletana from the The Bread Baker's Apprentice. For this pizza dough recipe, there's a choice of high gluten flour, unbleached bread flour, and all-purpose. The high gluten and bread flours need a quarter cup of olive oil to tenderize the dough. I have always used unbleached all-purpose flour for this recipe and have gotten excellent results each and every time.

This is an unusual dough because it uses ice cold water and made to rest in the refrigerator overnight (or for up to 4 days). The dough is a bit slack but easy enough to handle. The finished pizza has all the qualities I love: thin crisp but tender chewy sweetish creamy crust with puffy crispy chewy edges. This pizza dough does not need a lot of toppings and I usually add homemade tomato paste, 2 kinds of cheeses, and small pieces of vegetables such as roasted peppers or baby artichokes. Peter divides the dough into small 6 ounce balls for easier handling. I make mine 8 ounces each and stretch them into 12-inch rounds.

For pizza and other rustic breads I use 6-inch unglazed quarry tiles that I purchased from Home Depot for 33 cents each. The tiles get really hot and seem to do a great job of searing the bottom better than a pizza stone. They are also conveniently mobile and can easily be moved from oven to the outdoor grill.

Peter's notes:
The dough does not need "lip", but one inevitably occurs because the edge is usually thicker than the center and it doesn't have any sauce to hold it down. Do not try to build up the edges by crimping because you want it to bubble up on its own and create a light, airy crumb.

Neapolitan-style Pizza
adapted from The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart
4½ cups [20.25 ounces] unbleached all purpose flour, chilled
1¾ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1¾ cups [14 ounces] ice cold water (40°F)
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 zipper freezer bags
  • Sift together the flour, salt, and instant yeast in a 4-quart bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment. Stir in the water until all the flour is absorbed, and mix for about 5 minutes. Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for up to 7 minutes. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet and doesn't come off the sides, sprinkle in some more flour just until it clears the sides. If it clears the bottom, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water. The finished dough will be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and registers 50° to 55°F.
  • Sprinkle flour on a work surface. Using a metal scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces. Sprinkle the dough with a little flour and form into balls. Place the oil in a bowl and roll each ball in the oil and place in separate bags. Place the bags in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, or place some in the freezer for up to 3 months (transfer the frozen doughs in the refrigerator one day before you plan to bake them).
  • On the day you plan to make the pizza, remove the desired amount of dough balls from the refrigerator.
  • Dust the work surface and your hands with flour. Gently press the dough into flat disks about ½ inch thick and 5 inches in diameter. Sprinkle the dough with flour and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rest for 2 hours.
  • At least 45 minutes before baking, place a baking stone or unglazed quarry tiles on the lowest rack of the oven and preheat the oven to the highest heat setting.
  • Place a large sheet of parchment on your peel or generously dust with semolina flour. Make the pizza one at a time. Dip your hands including the back and knuckles in flour and gently lift one piece of dough with the help of a pastry scraper. Very gently lay the dough across your fists and carefully stretch it by bouncing the dough in a circular motion, giving it a stretch with each bounce. If it begins to stick, lay it down on the floured surface and reflour your hands, then continue shaping. If you are brave enough, toss the dough up in the air.
  • When the dough is stretched out to your satisfaction, lay it on the paper-lined or semolina dusted peel. Lightly top it with your toppings and slide the pizza, including parchment, on the stone and close the door. The pizza should take about 5 to 8 minutes to bake. Remove from oven and transfer to a cutting board. Wait 3 minutes before slicing and serving to allow the cheese to set slightly.
These are from last year's BBA Challenge:

 Neapolitan-style Pizza
tomato sauce, capers, mozzarella, feta, and kesong puti (Filipino fresh white cheese)

Blueberry Pizza
dessert pizza topped with fresh blueberries and coarse raw sugar


Unknown said...

I love the desset pizza. It looks wonderful.

maiylah said...

i think i prefer the second shot ... that looks absolutely delicious!!!!
i wish i could try cooking my own rustic bread; am sure it's more delicious and healthier, too!

thanks again, Ms. Oggi
enjoy the weekend!

Oggi said...

Joy, I always make a dessert pizza topped with whatever fruits are in season. They are delicious.:)

Maiylah, thanks. I love that kesong puti doesn't melt and is a nice addition to the melting cheeses.:)

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