Author Topic: Cheese is seriously frustrating me in trying to improve my pizza  (Read 4156 times)

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Offline elohel

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I just want to preface this by saying that my homemade pizza has come a long, long, LONG way in the past month.

Prior to February, my dough consisted of AP flour that was risen for an hour and then baked, but not before I rolled it out with a rolling pin. As you can imagine, my pizza dough was flat, pale, bread-like, etc. Just awful. My sauce was literally just some generic 'pizza sauce' that I found at target and used.. again, awful. Cheese? Just a handful of shredded mozz. My pizzas sucked.

I'm a NY native at heart, so only having access to extremely sub-par pizza in MN, as well as making awful pizza myself, just wasn't cutting it for me anymore. First thing I did was go out and buy a book called 'The Art of Pizza Making'. In hindsight, probably a waste of $15 since everything in that book is likely in this book. But, no complaints as it did improve my pizza tremendously. So far, here's what I've changed:

Dough: Caputo 00 High Gluten flour, along with a very simple flour/water/yeast/sugar/salt(I think) dough. I autolyse it, kneed it in a food processor, and then follow his 2 rising methods (initial rise on the counter, punch down, rise overnight in the fridge). My dough is a 100x better. Chewy, slightly crisp, better flavor. It still needs a lot of work, but I'm much happier with it.

Sauce: Began making my own sauce, and the first big change was buying Carmelina 'e San Marzano tomatoes to use as a base. This, along with the author's sauce recipe has made my sauce something I'm really, really happy with. In fact, I won't even bother trying to improve it as it's exactly where I want it - slightly sweet/acidic, just a hint of taste in the pizza, etc. I like it where it's at.

The cheese.. the cheese is the one damn thing in the pizza that has always been the biggest thorn in my behind. The book author's #1 suggestion was to try Cooper's Sharp American as a very flavorful cheese. So, I spent $40 and bought this cheese from a deli back in NY. It's honestly pretty good - nice flavor, melts well, etc.. but it's just not the flavor and consistency that I want from a delicious cheese pizza. It's good, but not the right flavor. I miss the stretchy, slightly salty/flavorful mozz (I'm assuming) that they use in NY.

My problem is that whenever I look up NY pizza recipes, they pull the same crap on me.. they just say "1 cup of mozzarella", as if all mozzarella is the same. I know they aren't the same, but for the life of me, I can't find one that has a nice, delicious taste. I've tried a handful of them from the grocer, from pre-shedded, to in a log, to water-packed.. they all just wind up having zero taste when the pizza is done.

If anyone has any suggestions in this department, or could point me to a thread on this site that could help me, I would greatly appreciate it. I checked out the cheese forum, but I really didn't understand what was going on with all of the talk of making your own, what grande cheese is, etc.

Thanks again


Offline Jackitup

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Re: Cheese is seriously frustrating me in trying to improve my pizza
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2013, 06:19:54 AM »
I like blocks of mozz and provalone and do a 50/50 mix, sometimes a little swiss is okay too. I don't like pre-shredded. Shred it by hand or cube up and pulse in the food processer, not too fine, leave chunky like pea size. As far as what's best....find what YOU like, everyone's different, but a great, solid blend for me has always been 50/50 mozz and prov, and not the smoked provalone, I think it is too overwhelming on a pie.

jon
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Offline scott123

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Re: Cheese is seriously frustrating me in trying to improve my pizza
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2013, 06:55:40 AM »
Jeremy, welcome to the forum.

Out of thousands of New York pizzerias, one or two blends Caputo flour with other flours, but for the vast majority, Caputo flour has no place in New York style pizza. Just about every aspect of pizza making involves two tiers of quality. You've got your commercial quality cheese, and your retail quality cheese. You've got your commercial quality tomatoes, and your retail quality tomatoes. Commercial ovens, home ovens. Same thing for flour. Ideally speaking, in order to match Grimaldi's, you'll want a medium-high gluten or high gluten bromated flour such as full strength or all trumps. While not ideal, supermarket flours are not the end of the world. Better for bread is a decent option, as is King Arthur bread flour.

Supermarket mozzarella is also not a death sentence. If you can get a good brand, such as TJ's or sorrento, it helps, but even great things can be coaxed from the worst mozzarella– as long as you stick with low moisture whole milk brick. There's two tricks to getting the most out of your cheese. One, proper application of heat. The right oven set up is critical. Longer bakes tend to dry out and brown cheese excessively. Crust thickness also plays a role in heat application. If you have too much dough under the cheese, you end up insulating the cheese and prevent it from bubbling– a crucial aspect of flavor development. Two, fat. Olive oil can mess with the traditional New York flavor, but some oil can go a long way in helping cheese bubble and reach proper flavor development. Pepperoni is ideal for providing extra fat to assist in cheese melting.

Please post your sauce recipe. No offense but if this book is so incorrect in other areas (American cheese?!), then I'm concerned that they're getting the sauce wrong as well.

Offline dmcavanagh

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Re: Cheese is seriously frustrating me in trying to improve my pizza
« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2013, 07:09:59 AM »
@scott, Cooper's sharp American really doesn't taste like standard American cheese, it is much closer to a cheddar flavor and is actually very good. That said, I don't think it belongs on pizza, save it for your next sandwich.

Offline Jackitup

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Re: Cheese is seriously frustrating me in trying to improve my pizza
« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2013, 09:51:02 AM »
Hey Scott, just to jump in a bit on my own cheese question, have you any knowledge of Fratellino Mozzarella? It's low moisture, whole milk block I bought at RD and haven't got around to trying yet, tooo busy at the hospital lately but hopefully will this week. It's a 9.5 lb block so I'm hoping for the best. Got it out of curiosity because I haven't seen it before and hoping for a hidden gem of course. It's from WI but can't find any info. Any input appreciated!

jon
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Offline Qarl

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Re: Cheese is seriously frustrating me in trying to improve my pizza
« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2013, 10:40:30 AM »
+1 for shredded mozz AND provalone on top.

Sprinkle some good quality grated romano cheese and a spiral of olive oil before bake!

 :chef: :pizza: :chef: :pizza: :chef: :pizza:

Offline scott123

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Re: Cheese is seriously frustrating me in trying to improve my pizza
« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2013, 12:20:23 PM »
Hey Scott, just to jump in a bit on my own cheese question, have you any knowledge of Fratellino Mozzarella? It's low moisture, whole milk block I bought at RD and haven't got around to trying yet, tooo busy at the hospital lately but hopefully will this week.

Jon, I'm not familiar with that brand, but I can tell you that I've never come across a wholesale mozzarella that didn't melt beautifully. Some have a richer/more buttery taste than others and some can get provoloney/funky, but the worst wholesale cheese is almost always a 100 times better than anything retail.

Offline Tscarborough

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Re: Cheese is seriously frustrating me in trying to improve my pizza
« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2013, 01:39:17 PM »
Whole milk mozzarella bricks, grated coarse, you can't go wrong.

Offline CDNpielover

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Re: Cheese is seriously frustrating me in trying to improve my pizza
« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2013, 01:57:09 PM »
only having access to extremely sub-par pizza in MN

Minnesota has excellent pizza, and unless you live in the middle of nowhere, you just haven't tried the right places.  Sure, the regional style is different from NY pizza, but it is quite good and I suggest you embrace it.  Try Carbones, Red's Savoy Inn (the original, as the franchises aren't up to snuff), Broadway, etc. etc. etc.  There are literally hundreds of great pizza shops in the Twin Cities.

Offline mkevenson

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Re: Cheese is seriously frustrating me in trying to improve my pizza
« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2013, 02:29:08 PM »
I REALLY like the addition of AGED Provolone. Try to get at least 12 months age. It makes a sharper taste, and is well worth the hunt. Mix with a Mozz that you like, do you have a Trader Joes near by?  They have several decent Mozz that I have used , including imported Buffala .Depending where you live you may have to order online.
Sounds like once you get the cheese selection down, you are well on your way !!!

Mark
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Offline chadberg00

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Re: Cheese is seriously frustrating me in trying to improve my pizza
« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2013, 03:38:27 PM »
I also lived in MN for 32 years where I grew up and will be back up in the Twin Cities for work.  Frankie's Pizza had some of the best cheese and sausage
that haunts my dreams.  I believe they may have used Grande whole milk cheese which you may be able to get a hold of
and is WI based if memory serves. 

Also, try mixing some muenster cheese in with mozzarella which really adds a nice flavor and melt.


Offline elohel

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Re: Cheese is seriously frustrating me in trying to improve my pizza
« Reply #11 on: March 05, 2013, 04:42:56 PM »
Thanks for the info guys. I will definitely try some various whole brick mozz/prov and see what happens.

In regards to the sharp american cheese, it's actually quite good on pizza. It tastes nothing like the american cheese we generally eat. I enjoy it, but it's just not the cheese I'm looking for. Everyone I've made pizza for has commented on how tasty the cheese is, though.

Here's the sauce recipe that I've been pretty happy with so far (1 pizza):

3/4 cup tomatoes/juice
1 tbs olive oil
1/4 tsp oregano
1 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp salt (I use unsalted tomatoes to begin with)
1/16 tsp pepper

I have no doubt in my mind that the sauce can be improved, but at the moment, it's the best part of my pizza, so I'm not too concerned about it.

For reference, here's the dough recipe I'm using. I enjoy the crust it makes. Not the best I've ever had by any means, and not NY dough by any means, but it tastes about right:

3/4 cup warm water
4 tsp sugar
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp IDY
2 cups caputo 00 flour

Gently mix, allow to sit for 15 minutes, kneed with food processor for a few minutes, rise for 1 hr on counter, deflate, rise in fridge for ~24 hours.

Also, I'm in Rochester, MN, and I don't venture up to the twin cities much. I'm sure there are some excellent pizza joints up there, but I don't know about any of them for this reason.

Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: Cheese is seriously frustrating me in trying to improve my pizza
« Reply #12 on: March 05, 2013, 05:44:35 PM »
That book sounds like it is giving instructions for NP pizza, except for the odd suggestion of Cooper's Sharp American cheese. Stop looking at that book...it is evil.  ;D

Read through(as much as you can) one of the "sticky's" at the top in the NY section.
Grande cheese is a brand that is used by many, many NY pizza joints.
Post some pics as soon as you can and folks here will get you to pizza bliss.  :chef:
Bob
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Offline Jackitup

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Re: Cheese is seriously frustrating me in trying to improve my pizza
« Reply #13 on: March 05, 2013, 06:03:29 PM »
Elohel, I heard 'Pi' was pretty good for a wood fired, neapolitan style pizza down there. You're about 60-70 miles south of me. Here's there web site
http://www.live4pi.com/pizzas.php
jon
« Last Edit: March 05, 2013, 06:08:30 PM by Jackitup »
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Offline elohel

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Re: Cheese is seriously frustrating me in trying to improve my pizza
« Reply #14 on: March 05, 2013, 06:09:33 PM »
Ah, I haven't been to Pi in years. It's not bad, but not great. I'd go there more if they made large pizzas instead of little personal ones since that's just a pain when feeding a family

Offline Jackitup

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Re: Cheese is seriously frustrating me in trying to improve my pizza
« Reply #15 on: March 05, 2013, 06:33:57 PM »
BUT....in their defense, mind you I have not been there, a TRUE Neapolitan pie is only about 12-13 inches and a few toppings at most. A different mindset must be held when going to one.

jon
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Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Cheese is seriously frustrating me in trying to improve my pizza
« Reply #16 on: March 05, 2013, 06:36:19 PM »
. Stop looking at that book...it is evil.  ;D


Bob,

The book, The Art of Pizza Making, has been around since 1991, and people are still buying and reading it, with quite favorable reviews for the most part (http://www.amazon.com/Art-Pizza-Making-Secrets-Recipes/dp/0963203401/?tag=pizzamaking-20). So, "evil" may be too strong a word. Also, you will note that the book is In the forum's book section at http://www.pizzamaking.com/pizza_books.html. As I understand it, if members purchase the book from this forum, Steve gets a few quid from Amazon.

Peter

Offline elohel

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Re: Cheese is seriously frustrating me in trying to improve my pizza
« Reply #17 on: March 05, 2013, 06:40:01 PM »
It's a solid book, I won't knock it. He lists many suitable cheese, but the Cooper's Sharp American happens to be his favorite. I tried it and to his credit, it does make a tasty pie. Just not the pie I want.

Also, the neopolitan pizzas they make at that pi place are (I'm guessing) 6-8". They're personal pizzas, and maybe I'm just a fatty, but they don't really fill me up.

Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: Cheese is seriously frustrating me in trying to improve my pizza
« Reply #18 on: March 05, 2013, 06:49:25 PM »
...it is evil.  ;D


Notice great big smiley face please.....sheesh!  ;)

I've never heard of the book before and could really care a less about it.....  >:D

Yours truly,
Smiling all the time Bob
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Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Cheese is seriously frustrating me in trying to improve my pizza
« Reply #19 on: March 05, 2013, 07:04:08 PM »
Bob,

LOL. I saw the smiley but was just having a little fun with you. I have never read the book but unless it is periodically updated, it is perhaps a bit stale at this point.

Peter