It's been a while since I last posted in this thread but I'm happy to report that my latest Sicilian pie attempt was far more successful thanks to the helpful advice given in this thread and learning from some of my past mistakes.
I checked out the links Norma mentioned and decided to go with a modified version of the L&P Spumoni Gardens pie. The pictures and descriptions looked delicious and I liked the fact that it could endure a longer bake because the top of my pies now brown faster since I've switched to dry mozz. The recipe I used was a modified version of the one dellavecchia posted in the L&P thread http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,17168.msg168598.html#msg168598.
Flour (100%): 399.77 g | 14.1 oz | 0.88 lbs
Water (64%): 255.85 g | 9.02 oz | 0.56 lbs
IDY (0.4%): 1.6 g | 0.06 oz | 0 lbs | 0.53 tsp | 0.18 tbsp
Salt (2.5%): 9.99 g | 0.35 oz | 0.02 lbs | 2.94 tsp | 0.98 tbsp
Oil (4%): 15.99 g | 0.56 oz | 0.04 lbs | 3.55 tsp | 1.18 tbsp
Sugar (1%): 4 g | 0.14 oz | 0.01 lbs | 1 tsp | 0.33 tbsp
Total (171.9%): 687.2 g | 24.24 oz | 1.52 lbs | TF = 0.1616 Dough
Used KABF and mixed for about 10 minutes in a KA following a 20 minute autolyse per Jeff Varasano's method. Let the dough rest for about 15 minutes. It didn't quite pass the windowpane test however at this point it was 1am and I just wanted to go to bed so I covered it and stuck it in the fridge. Normally I my doughs go through a 1-3 day cold rise, but since I was baking it the following day had to make do with an overnight ferment.
The dough fermented for about 15 hours in the fridge and then at room temperature for 3 hours. During the last hour, I shaped the dough in an oiled baking pan and let it finish proofing in there. Cheese
The usual Trader Joe's whole milk mozzarella, sliced and went right on the naked crust. I didn't have romano on hand that day so topped the pie with parm from Whole Foods instead. Sauce
I used an uncooked sauce of strained Bionaturale tomatoes from a jar mixed with a little salt, pepper, dried oregano and dried basil. Normally I add a little sugar to my sauces but I skipped it this time because these tomatoes tasted great and already had a good balance of acidity to sweetness. Toppings
I'm generally a minimalist when it comes to pizza but the family wanted a heartier pie that night. So in addition to cheese and tomatoes, I threw in some spicy chicken kabob (precooked), pickled jalapenos, and sliced onions. The Bake
The oven was preheated to 500 deg F with a stone at the bottom for about an hour. I was torn between 475 and 500 but given all the problems I've had with browning in the past, I went with higher temp to be on the safe side. The stone temperature registered between 519 and 539. I moved the stone to the top shelf of the oven and placed the tray with the pie on the bottom shelf.
The pizza baked for about 16 minutes, rotated halfway. Took the pizza out and saw that the sauce had cooked nicely and the rim had some good browning on it. But alas, the bottom of the crust was still pale. So with a little manuevering, I moved the entire pie from the tray to the stone that was still in the oven to crisp up the bottom for about 3 minutes.
Total bake time: 19 minutes.Results
* While not perfect, this was the best Sicilian I've produced so far. The stone helped the bottom get nice and crispy, just the way I wanted it. Placing the pie directly on the stone got it much crispier than baking it on the stone from the get go. In fact I would say the bottom was a little too crispy. Next time I'll deck it for just a minute or 2 instead.
* The sauce was fantastic, absolutely the best sauce I've had so far. It reminded me a lot of the sauce on Giordano's stuffed crust pizzas. Some of it attributable to the quality of the tomatoes I used but I suspect it has more to do with the length of time the tomatoes cooked on the pie. 19 minutes vs. 6-7 minutes for a standard NY style pie will definitely bring out different flavor characteristics in the sauce.
* The pickled jalepaneos added a nice tartness that cut through the richness of the pie. I might continue to use it on other pizzas.
* Next time I will up the quantity of mozzarella cheese. There didn't seem to be enough mozz flavor. It could be because the other toppings and large amount of sauce overpowered the taste of the cheese. I'll also try to minimize other toppings next time.
* The texture of the pizza varied. The pieces towards the outside were a bit more dense, and not that thick. The ones in the middle were the best. Airy, with a good hole structure, and lighter despite being thicker. I may use a rolling pin next time to obtain a more uniform dough before stretching it in the pan
* The mozz baked into the cheese created a somewhat gummy layer on top of the crust in some places.
* Crust could have benefited from a few days cold ferment to improve flavor. Note to self: plan ahead next time.
* I'm beginning to think I need to ditch my SS pan for a blue steel one. Even with high temps and baking at the very bottom closest to the heat source the bottom of the crust just doesn't brown. The stone at the end helped but it was a pain and shouldn't be necessary IMO. It seems the dark pans members are using give the best results. Did you guys buy yours locally or online? Most of the brick and mortar stores I've been to only carry the crappy non-stick pans.