Thursday, August 23, 2007

Pizza attempts 13 - 16

These were my best pizzas yet. I used a different recipe, from a book called Crust and Crumb by Peter Reinhart. It's pretty similar, except it uses a poolish (a preferment similar to a yeast starter). The dough was also wetter. Since the recipe isn't online, I'll give it to you here:
  • 300g (2 1/3c) unbleached bread flour
  • 10g (1 1/3tsp.) salt
  • 1/6 tsp. instant yeast
  • 4 tsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 123g (about 1/2 cup) cool water (65-70 degrees)
  • 189g (3/4c + 1Tbsp. + 1tsp.) poolish-style sponge
A few notes about this recipe:
  • I've multiplied the recipe by 2/3, since that makes about two 12" pizzas.
  • I've converted to grams, but also show the volume measures. This shows how easy it is to use grams and change the quantity of any recipe (I know I don't want to measure 0.83 cups of something). Weight is much more reliable than volume!
  • I reduced the olive oil. The recipe calls for 1/3c. of olive oil (scaled down) and that seemed like a lot to me, and olive oil is expensive. I didn't see any reason to use that much. If you do, let me know.
For the poolish, mix 510g (4c) flour, 4c water, and 1/4 tsp. instant yeast. Beat until smooth, then cover and rise for 5 hours. Refrigerate overnight and use, or keep in the fridge for up to 5 days. This is a preferment; it is often used in bread and will contribute great flavor to our dough.

To make the pizza dough, mix all ingredients--using only 200g (2/3) of the flour--until just combined. Cover and rest for 15-20 minutes. This is the autolyse (no, I don't know how to say it either) and it will help develop the gluten. Then, I use the same technique as before. I use my hand mixer with the weird spiral dough attachment to mix for 8 minutes, then I gradually add in the rest of the flour in about 5 minutes. Once the flour is all added, it's too dry for my hand mixer so I knead by hand until it passes the windowpane test. It's very difficult to knead this dough by hand, but try to use as little extra flour as possible.

To do the windowpane test, pull off a small piece of dough and toss in flour. Gently flatten and stretch, like you're making a tiny pizza. The dough should stretch to paper thin without tearing so you can almost see through it. If the dough tears first, keep kneading.

After kneading, make a ball by stretching one side and tucking the sides under itself, kind of like tucking a jellyfish's legs into the bottom. Spray oil in a bowl and place the dough in. Spray oil lightly on top of the dough and cover with plastic. Let this rise for about 2 hours. You're looking for it to rise to about 1 1/2 times it's previous volume. The book says to rise until bubbly for about 3 hours, but I think this is too much. Refrigerate for a day or two.

On pizza day, remove the dough from the fridge. Divide in two and make two balls. I put one back in a bowl to rise and the other goes in the fridge in a plastic bag sprayed with oil. I let the rising dough get to room temperature. Depending on how much the dough rose before refrigerating, the dough may have to rise more again. In any case, I'd get it to at least room temperature. Turn on your oven at least 30 minutes before you think the dough will be ready, enough time to preheat your stone and get the oven as hot as possible. Then it's time to make the crust. Toss the dough in flour and flatten with the heel of your hand. Slowly stretch it out and either toss in the air, or stretch in the air, or stretch with your knuckles, or stretch on the pizza peel. You may have to rest the dough for a few minutes if it wants to shrink back again. Place on the peel and load with toppings. Give the peel a shake before you put it in the oven to make sure the dough isn't sticking. It also may help to press the toppings down on the pizza so they don't fall off when you're shoveling the pizza in the oven. Put the pizza on the stone and bake.

My pizza bakes for 4 minutes. You may want to rotate it halfway through cooking. Here are more pictures:

The dough before decorating. You can see that it was still bubbly in the middle--this made it hard to make the dough thin.

It was hard to get a picture before it was eaten!

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