Well, as I sit here drinking my Hoegaarden biere, I can't help but think about a liquor store that I once lived near while going to college. It's not that they carried quality beers or anything. Instead, the store comes to mind because they used to make a cardboard pizza that was about as awful as one of my first tries with the Caputo flour.
I'm used to making NY style pizzas, which earn their name of Neo-Neapolitan because they don't cling to the same restrictions as a pizza that comes out of Naples. As such, a teaspoon of sugar will not only remind you of a Mary Poppins' song; but it will give you a nice browning effect on a NY style pizza like this:
When following the ingredients of A16 (http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,1298.msg12887.html#msg12887
), I had to realize that I was working with quite a different product. My concern was twofold:
1) Without a fire-breathing dragon for an oven, as is the case of A16, I knew a white crust pizza was likely to surface. I considered an Italian style oven like a friend owns, but then I woke up:
2) Without oil, which was to be accompanied by a smaller and potentially thinner crust, and less water hydration than usual, the pizza was likely to be ready in less time.
Initially, I used my screen, placed the 10 oz dough (which had been made into a 14" pizza) toward the top of the oven and left it for the usual 8 minutes at 550F. The taste of the crust was fine; but the pizza experience was garbage. It was the wrong texture all together. It was too tough and seemed over cooked. The idea of ever rolling it up or expecting it to melt in my mouth was beyond consideration. I knew that I had placed presentation (e.g., browning) before the ultimate product.
So then I tried to drench the next baby with oil, along with a bit of extra sauce, hoping to soften the outside without re-doing the inside. That went over like a headstone in the back yard.
Finally, I sat back and thought about it. My instincts told me that either I was placing too much emphasis on browning it and was therefore over-cooking it, or I was rolling it too thin (Roman style rather than Naples style per Reinhart), or I needed to soften it when first making the dough.
I decided not to blame the procedure for making the dough, and instead I took a closer look at the cockpit. I moved my top rack in the oven down to the middle, placed a stone in it, and pre-heated it for 20 or so minutes at 550F, and then followed these procedures:
1) Took a 10.5 oz dough and stretched it into a 12" pizza
2) Placed the dough on the screen without any toppings and placed it on the bottom shelve for just under 1 minute
3) Added sauce and 5 cubes of Grande cheese, and then placed it on the stone, no screen.
5 minutes later, I took it out. It had formed some outside browning; but this was no longer my focus. Since I tend to add toppings like grilled vegetables or thin meats toward the end, I decided to add a very small portion of prosciutto at this time. I put it back on the stone for about another 40 seconds. If I were to just place the pizza initially on the stone, and leave it in for the duration, I'd have it in the oven for 6 minutes, max.
If you were to read the last paragraph on page 23 of Reinhart's American Pie, he describes a Neapolitan pizza as initially crisp; but then it softens. Well, this baby was perfect. My teeth actually connected when I bit into it. That's very important to me, regardless if it is crispy or soft. I sat out on the deck, knowing that I could now enjoy the taste of the Caputo crust, along with its almost transparent texture. It was a delight knowing that Christophe's touch was now in my hands, except a charring from his wood fire that he well deserves. I got a picture in right before my battery died. And then I went back out onto my deck.