Hi there. I'm new to this forum. I have just recently completed my latest recipe, and I'm very proud of it, as the results have been quite good for me. I have to say, my pizza tastes about as good as I can imagine it tasting, and if only I had a wood burning oven, I feel like it would be perfect. But then again, I've been reading many of the posts on this board, and I get the feeling that I may not be as experienced as I thought I was. So how bout it? Anyone comments? Any suggestions? Anyone want to tell me how to improve my recipe?
I think I have a few points of interest:
1. Red sauce: I improvised my tomato sauce recipe over time from a simple recipe I found in the Best Recipe Classic book by Baking Illustrated. I personally love the taste, but I am not sure my method is kosher, so to speak. Namely, to get the right consistency, I use a fine sieve to get rid of some excess liquid. I have a suspicion that this is blasphemous. However, I find when I leave the sauce simmering, it never really gets to the right consistency. Is it wrong to take this shortcut? What are the consequences of straining liquid, rather than reducing it through simmering?
2. Cheese: Personally, I don't like fresh mozzarella for pizza. I have tried using the expensive buffalo mozzarella from the Italian grocer and it just doesn't seem right for pizza. So instead, I use Silani 25% M.F. 52% humidity vacuum packed cheese. Does anyone know of a better cheese?
3. Crust: Basically, I've been using a standard Williams Sonoma pizza crust recipe, reduced to 1/4 to get the thin crust I prefer. But I wonder if it isn't possible to get a better crust. Any ideas? In particular, I'd like a crisper crust. Unfortunately, using my baking stone, it takes almost 8 minutes to fully bake my crust, and if it goes much longer, the cheese browns more than I'm comfortable. Ideally, I'd like to bake for 10 minutes, and get a super crisp crust, but of course, this would totally brown out the cheese. Other than getting a wood burning oven that can bake a pizza in 4 minutes, is there any way to speed up the baking of the crust without overbrowning the cheese?
Makes 2 Medium Sized 10-12” Pizzas
6 ¼ OZ (1 ¼ Cups) Bread Flour
1 ¼ tsp Active Dry Yeast
140 ML Warm Water (105 – 115 F)
¾ tsp Sea Salt
½ tsp Sugar
1 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Mix in the sugar, olive oil, some of the flour, and then the salt.
2. Mix in the remaining flour, and knead on low speed in a stand mixer, or by hand, for 8-10 minutes, adding up to ¼ cups extra flour until the dough is smooth, elastic, and no longer sticky. Knead for a minute or two by hand if necessary. Divide dough in half.
3. Let each dough piece rise in an oiled bowl until doubled in volume, 45 minutes to 1 ½ hours.
4. Punch down and use immediately, or refrigerate for up to overnight. (if refrigerating, let dough come to room temperature before shaping)
The Tomato Sauce
16 OZ Canned Diced Tomatoes
2 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Large Cloves Fresh Garlic
1 Medium Sized Button Mushroom, Chopped Finely.
3-4 Fresh Basil Leaves, Chopped Finely
1 tsp Sugar
Salt and Pepper
1. Process the tomatoes, in a small food processor until pureed.
2. Heat the olive oil in a medium heavy bottomed saucepan at high heat until warmed. Sautee the mushroom and garlic for a few minutes.
3. Mix in the tomato puree, and stir with a wooden spoon. Reduce heat to low, and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Remove from heat, and let sit for a few minutes. Stir in the basil, then salt and pepper to taste.
5. Place sauce in a fine sieve and strain until it reaches the correct consistency, which is smooth without being runny, with some texture, but not chunky.
7 OZ Freshly Grated Mozzarella Cheese (Use high moisture, high fat cheese such as Silani, preferably 51 % moisture, 25% M.F.)
1 tsp very finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 tsp very finely chopped fresh Oregano
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
1. Preheat oven and baking stone to 500 degrees F for at least 30 minutes (preferably 60 minutes).
2. Place the chopped herbs and a small amount of freshly ground salt and pepper in a small bowl. Toss lightly by hand, and then add 2-4 TBSP of extra virgin olive oil. Stir with a whisk and set aside.
3. Lightly flour dough and carefully knead dough by hand into a 10-12 inch circle on a lightly floured surface or Rollpat. If the dough becomes too elastic to stretch, let it sit for a few minutes and try again. Transfer dough to a baker’s peel dusted generously with semolina flour.
4. Top the dough with a moderate amount of tomato sauce, leaving a ¼ to ½ inch border free of sauce.
5. Top with Mozzarella cheese, and pack down firmly. Brush cheese with the herb/oil mixture, leaving some leftover oil.
6. Carefully transfer the dough to the baking stone , and bake for 4 minutes. At the 4 minute mark, quickly open the oven door (take care of the intense heat!) and lightly brush the crust and cheese with the remaining olive oil. Bake for at least 4 minutes more, or for 5 ½ minutes if you prefer a crisper crust, and don’t mind extra browning of the cheese.