Omid, I have few questions:
1- How much sauce do you put on your pies?
2- Do you dome your pies?
Dear Bert, you asked, "How much [tomato] sauce do you put on your pies?"
I acknowledge that the Neapolitan pizza base (or the crust
, if you will) is of supreme importance, i.e., it has a pivotal role in the gastronomy of the Neapolitan pizza. Since the pizza base is the foundation
of the Neapolitan pizza both physically and qualitatively, then it makes gastronomical sense to apply enough sauce in order to maintain the supremacy of the pizza base. In other words, quantitatively balancing the sauce (or other toppings) toward the pizza base and qualitatively harmonizing the flavors of the sauce (or other toppings) toward—not against—the flavors of the pizza base is the key.
I have noticed over and over that when my tomato sauce is excessively acidic and lacks proper sweetness, it substantially impairs the flavors of my pizza base. Under such conditions, I opt to apply less sauce on my pizzas. Conversely, if I have a finely balanced tomato sauce, then I may apply more sauce than usual if its sweet flavor and aroma can accentuate the subtle sweet flavor of my pizza base.
Several years ago, an Armenian friend of mine, who is a home brewer, instructed me to cleanse my palates with some sweet grape tomatoes before enjoying the subtle flavors of a fine, craft beer. When I did that, I immediately noticed that the tomatoes amplified the flavors of the beer. I believe a fine tomato sauce has such an effect on the subtle flavors of the pizza base. By analogy, tomato sauce is like guitar strings. A good set of strings will bring out the exquisite sound of a finely built acoustic/classical/flamenco guitar. On the other hand, a set of tone-dead strings extinguishes the sound of the guitar, does not matter how well it was built or how good the wood.
At last, you asked, "Do you dome your pies?"
Only when necessary. Unfortunately, this issue is more complex than I have time to fully explore here per the experiences I have gained so far, so I will be brief. In my opinion, doming a Neapolitan pizza is not an all-inclusive imperative; doming becomes an imperative when the circumstances necessitate it. If my pizza dough and wood-fired oven are in optimal states, then there is usually no need to dome my pizzas. However, sometimes I resort to doming even when both the dough and oven are in optimal states. A case in point is when baking several pizzas simultaneously whereby I need to accelerate baking one of the pizzas in order to quickly divert my attention to the next pizza before it undesirably chars or burns.
At last, I quote, below, my response #2186:
In my assessment, having worked with a Neapolitan oven five days per week for the past 18 months, proper doming (which, in my experience, is not as effortless as it appears, and takes some artistry to master) is solely a distinct strategy or tactical gain in baking, not smoking, pizzas. Doming has several utilities. For instance, doming is often used as a catalyst, that is, to speed up the bake process when necessary. Sometimes, this utility simultaneously serves as a recovery mechanism to let the oven floor regain momentum when needed. In principle, I believe, doming a Neapolitan pizza depends on three principal factors:
1. The state of dough,
2. The thermal state of oven, and
3. How the pizza bakes under the two aforementioned conditions
Beyond the three factors, proper timing, frequency, and altitude of doming are of essence. Also, maintaining a right distance to the fire during doming should be taken into account. In other words, doming needs to be executed with sensitivity and know-how lest one vitiate the delicate gastronomy of the finished products. The ultimate objective is to achieve the gastronomical qualities (for example, soft, non-desiccated base and cornicione) traditionally ascribed to Neapolitan pizza, whether or not one resorts to doming.
Have a great day!