Monday, August 23, 2010

The Pizza Experiment

I'm having a good problem right now, I suppose: I'm cooking faster than I'm blogging. I have four potential posts in the works and I'm tempted to do them all at once. But where would the suspense be in that?

First, the results of The Pizza Experiment! I followed my informational video closely, resting both the wet and dry dough for the prescribed amounts of time. I let it proof in the refrigerator for about three hours before getting out about two hours before I baked so it could warm up and rise.

Someone previously asked me about how to keep the dough from drying out while resting, and indeed this did become an issue. I should have covered the balls in oil and then placed them in a plastic-wrap-sealed bowl before refrigerating them. The dry outside of the dough balls didn't affect the quality of the dough, but it did make for a much lumpier crust when I spread it out.

I baked one crust on my pizza stone, on a layer of parchment paper, and the other on a basic cookie sheet. The pizza stone works well, but I always err on the side of too much baking time. This resulted in a very crunchy bottom crust, a little too tough for me. The cookie sheet pizza was near perfect, with a soft but dry bottom. The crust was flavorful and somewhat chewy; not quite the pizzeria quality I was looking for, but satisfactory.

It seems the key to a quality pizza crust is not so much your recipe, but the kind of oven and heat you're working with. Genuine pizza ovens (like ones I found here) can retain temperatures of 800 degrees Fahrenheit. This level of heat cooks the pizza very quickly, searing the dough and producing a crispy crust that's still soft and chewy inside. I recently found out that my aunt and uncle are putting a ceramic wood-fired pizza oven in their new house. I think this calls for a future Pizza Experiment field trip.

For my ingredients, I used one part semolina flour to four parts all-purpose flour. I used canned Furmano's pizza sauce and grated block mozzarella on my pizzas and was pleased with the quality of both.

My family loved the pizza, though we all agreed that the one baked on the pizza stone was too crispy. Next time I use it, I'm going to bake just until the cheese is completely melted. Overall, the Pizza Experiment was a success, but I still have more to accomplish.

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