Well, it's now time to implement the biggest changes yet to my VP style pizza recipe. I've moved from Pittsburgh, PA to Durango, CO, which sits at an altitude of 6,512' above sea level. I've made trays of pizza here several times over the past few years but in every case, portions of the crust simply break apart when trying to get the pizza out of the pan. What I have discovered is this:
1. The high altitude causes the yeast activity in the raw dough to "race ahead" of the ability of the dough to form an elastic structure to support it. The result is a crust with little to no structure that falls apart.
2. The solution to this problem is to regulate the rise of the raw dough by cutting back on yeast & increasing salt, the result being a slowing down of the rise to give the dough a chance to catch up & build structure to support the rise.
The other issue I have found is that the different brands of canned crushed tomatoes here have a different flavor. I may need to order my canned crushed tomatoes online by the case in order to get the flavors I'm used to having in the end product. It's also harder to obtain the white cheddar that I use for my cheese blend. There doesn't seem to be any pre-shredded white cheddar available but I have seen 7oz pkgs of sliced sharp white cheddar. I may try these for an all white cheddar topped pie. Since VP actually uses Wisconsin white cheddar sliced on a meat slicer as their only cheese topping, this is no big deal but I am interested in the results of laying slices on top as opposed to spreading shredded cheese on top. Otherwise, I'll be buying 2 lb blocks of Cabot sharp white cheddar at Sam's Club, 45 miles from here and then shredding it in a food processor as I've done in the past.
Now that the heat has broken for the season here in Durango, I'll be starting back up on my pizza quest once again. GUess I need to "re-perfect" my pizza recipe & techniques for high altitude. Of course, this pizza is always worth the effort.