For some time now I have been thinking about making a deep-dish pie with a Neapolitan influence. So, this weekend, I took a first step in that direction. What I originally had in mind as the ideal “Neapolitan-style” deep-dish pie was a deep-dish pie based on using a Caputo 00 pizzeria flour, DOP San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, salami, and possibly other ingredients with an Italian influence. For good measure, I thought it might also be a good idea to use a natural preferment for leavening purposes, with the added objective of achieving an improved crust flavor. However, until I could prove out the concept, I decided to make a test deep-dish pie that was a few steps short of the ultimate Neapolitan style deep-dish pie I’d really like to make.
To this end, I did use the Caputo 00 Pizzeria flour to make the dough for the test pizza, and I did use DOP San Marzano tomatoes. However, in lieu of the buffalo mozzarella cheese, I chose to use a combination of Grande whole-milk mozzarella cheese and Bel Gioioso fresh mozzarella (Cryopac) cheese. For toppings, I used vegetables, hot Italian sausage, and pepperoni. I realize that pepperoni is not an Italian invention but that was a proxy this time for salami.
For the dough, I essentially “designed” a formulation based on--dare I say it--baker’s percents. In doing so, I borrowed liberally on ideas from buzz and other deep-dish experts on the forum, as well as my own experiences using the Caputo 00 flour. I also decided to use a natural preferment, which I had used previously for a deep-dish pie with good results. The amount of dough was calculated to fit a 9 ˝” x 2” deep-dish pan. The formulation I ended up with was as follows:
Caputo "Neapolitan-Style" Deep-Dish Dough Formulation
100%, Flour (Caputo 00 Pizzeria flour), 7.95 oz. (225.17 g.), 1 3/4 c. + 1 T. + 1 t
43%, Water (room temp.), 3.42 oz. (96.82 g.), between 3/8 and 1/2 c.
1%, Sugar, 0.08 oz. (2.25 g.), a bit over 1/2 t.
2%, Sea salt, 0.16 oz. (4.50 g.), 3/4 t.
20%, Oil, 1.59 oz. (45.03 g.), 3 1/4 T. (Note: I used 3 T. canola oil and 1/4 T. light olive oil)
20%, Natural preferment dough, 1.59 oz. (45.03 g.)
Thickness factor (TF) = 0.12
Total dough ball weight = 14.77 oz. (418.82 g.)
Finished dough temperature = 68.6 degrees F.
To prepare the preferment dough, I took about 5 tablespoons of my unrefreshed natural preferment straight out of the refrigerator and added enough flour to make it into a smooth dough mass. It was then left overnight on my kitchen counter, for about 12 hours, to rise and ripen. Once it was ready the next morning I dissolved the salt in the water in a bowl and worked in the prescribed amount of preferment dough (1.59 oz.) with a wooden spoon. The preferment dough was about the size of a golf ball. I then added the bulk of the flour, worked that in, covered the bowl, and let the dough rest for about 20 minutes. After the rest period, the remaining flour was added, along with the sugar and the oil, and they were all worked into the dough by hand. This took only 1 1/2 to 2 minutes—just long enough to bring everything together into a cohesive ball. The finished dough ball was left to ferment at room temperature (about 65 degrees F) for about 12 hours. As expected, during this time, the dough hardly rose at all. I then punched the dough down, kneaded it just a bit, and let it continue its room temperature rise, for about another 12 hours. During the second rise, the dough expanded by about 40-50%, also pretty much as expected.
To assemble the pizza, the dough was flattened and pressed by hand into the 9 1/2” x 2” deep-dish pan. The dough fit perfectly in the pan, without any leftover. Slices of the Grande cheese were then placed on the bottom, followed by slices (well drained) of the Bel Gioioso fresh mozzarella cheese. The Grande cheese was used to serve as a barrier to the Bel Gioioso cheese to prevent the bottom crust from getting soggy. Next time, I plan to coat the bottom crust with olive oil and use only a fresh mozzarella cheese, most likely a buffalo mozzarella cheese, that has been very well drained. Alternatively, I might try pre-baking the crust for a few minutes.
For toppings, I used, in order, sauteed mushrooms and green peppers, caramelized onions, roasted red peppers (from a jar), hot Italian sausage (removed from its casing and pre-cooked until just pink), and pepperoni slices.
The sauce for the deep-dish pie was made from a 28-ounce can of Coluccio DOP San Marzano tomatoes that I had run through a food mill. Rather than discard the liquids, I reduced them over low-medium heat to a paste-like consistency, added some Penzeys pizza seasoning and dried mixed herbs, and recombined the reduced sauce with the rest of the tomatoes and some fresh basil. I then re-seasoned the finished sauce to taste. As it turned out, the single can was just about enough to cover the pie, with nothing to spare. The pie was topped with freshly grated Parmiagiano-Reggiano cheese.
The pizza was baked on the middle oven rack position in a 475-degree F preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes. Part way through the baking I covered the pizza with a sheet of aluminum foil to keep the exposed top crust from browning too quickly.
The series of photos below show the “Neapolitan-style” deep-dish pie at different stages. I thought the pie came out very well. It was extremely flavorful, with a biscuit-like crust. One of the things I noticed is that the multiple flavors of the sauce and toppings masqueraded the crust flavor to the point that I could not detect the usual crust flavors contributed by the use of the preferment. Next time, I plan to make an instant dry yeast (IDY) version of the formulation, and to strive for an entirely same-day pie which should be possible using the IDY with the Caputo 00 pizzeria flour. I most likely will make other changes also since it would be highly unlikely that I created the best pie the first time out.