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Offline camwell

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Aurelio's-inspired - A Different Tack
« on: February 06, 2020, 03:09:59 AM »
An Aurelio's-Inspired Chicago Thin

This pizza doesn't fit neatly into any category, really. But it's perhaps closest to Aurelio's.

tl;dr:
I used a New York slice-thin style dough in the aim of making an Aurelio's style Chicago thin

I grew up eating Aurelio's from the Homewood restaurant in the '70s & '80s, and that's always been one of my favorite kinds of pizza. My family still lives in the South Suburbs, so I've been back to eat Aurelio's from that restaurant as well as several of the other Aurelio's out that way, like in Frankfort, over the past 10-15 yrs, but none of the pizzas I've had from them have tasted the way the old Aurelio's used to taste. (Of course, memories can fail, so I may be remembering something that my imagination has created.)

I've made a number of attempts at Aurelio's pizza, mostly using Garvey's (rightfully) popular approaches suggested in the forums here. While those were all ok, in my hands with the limitations of my stove & equipment, ingredients, and sad dough skills, there's always been a big gap between what I have produced and what I remember of the old Aurelio's. One of the main problems I've had has been with the dough, which typically turns out too thick, crisp, and bready-chewy.

So this time I thought I'd take a different tack. I wanted a much thinner and more pliant crust than what I've been getting because those are key features, to my mind, of the Aurelio's crust. But the crust also needed to be able to hold up well to the heavy layers of toppings that are another classic feature of Aurelio's pizzas.

For this reason, it seemed the way to go would be to try a New York slice-style dough. New York slices are famously thin and pliable enough that they can easily be folded in half for biting into. I would use a NY-style dough and see how that turned out with my equipment.

Caveats:
(a) I usually cook pizzas on an old dark non-stick perforated round pan with parchment paper, which produces very crisp, brown bottoms. I wanted a softer, lighter bottom, so this time I used a double-layer aluminum AirBake cookie sheet with parchment paper. This AirBake sheet always produces great cookies, with bottoms that don't get overdone.

(b) I've spent a lot of time and money driving around looking for magic ingredients in the past. But this time, I just wanted a quick, easy, utilitarian pizza with cheap, readily available ingredients. So no scamorza or special cheese blends or special tomatoes or sausage from scratch this time. Just ingredients that I either already had in the freezer (Premio Italian sausage) or could easily pick up at the nearest grocery stores.

Dough

I used J. Kenji Lopez-Alt's recipe for a basic New York-style dough, with modifications
https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2012/07/basic-new-york-style-pizza-dough.html

630g unbleached all-purpose flour (not bread flour)
15g sugar
10g kosher salt
10g Fleischman's active dry yeast*
32g Wesson canola oil (not extra-virgin olive oil)
420g lukewarm water

*an unopened bottle whose best-use-by date was 12/2017 (2 years ago), but I tested its strength before I decided to use it, and it was fine


Per Lopez's instructions, I added the dry ingredients into the bowl of the food processor and briefly spun the processor to blend them, then added oil & water & pulsed about 30 seconds. The instructions said the dough should ride up along the sides of the bowl after about 15 seconds of pulsing, but in my case, some of the dough got caught under the blade and slowed its performance, and the dough was so sticky that it didn't really ride up on the sides of the bowl very well. (I never have a problem getting to that stage with other pie or bread doughs in this food processor. Next time I will whisk the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl first, the way I usually do, then pour them into the food processor.)

This dough was crazy sticky. I had to oil my hands and use lots of extra flour to be able to handle it. I ended up kneading it a few times then split it into halves, instead of into the 3 parts the recipe called for, since I was planning to make pizzas larger than the 12-inch rounds the recipe was for. I placed each half into a gallon-size plastic freezer bag, one of which I had put a little oil into to see whether that helped fight the stickiness later when removing the dough from the bag. (The oil didn't make a difference.) Refrigerated.

Used the 1st half after 18-20 hours in the refrigerator for a different kind of pizza I won't go into much here other than to say that cooking it on my standard dark, perforated pan produced a very brown, stiff bottom.

Used the 2nd half tonight, after 4 days in the refrigerator.
Let the dough rest at room temperature 4 hours, then it needed lots of flour on the counter, my hands, and a rolling pin to be able to work with it because of its stickiness. I ended up kneaded it a bit more in the process of getting the flour on it and pressing it with my thumbs into a thin dough. It was tearing in a few places, so I had to patch up the holes.

Sauce

this started as a mashup of two different kinds of Garvey sauces, with modifications:

(Pizza Factory)
https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=17662.msg171274#msg171274

(Aurelio's)
https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=19680.msg350726#msg350726

(amount are approximate, since I slightly adjusted some ingredients, like the fennel and oregano, to taste, as I was working)

28 ounces tomato puree (Cento's)
2 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
3/8 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 - 2 teaspoons oregano
1 - 1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seed
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp garlic powder
large dash of fresh-ground black pepper
(no marjoram, no "Italian seasoning", no parmesan)
1/3 cup Chianti

Cooked the sauce on low for about 20 minutes.
Used on the 1st pizza. It was waayyy too sweet.
Allowed to mature in the refrigerator for 3 more days.

added for 2nd pizza (this post):
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tsp salt

In the future, would cut the sugar by 1/2 to 2/3.
I used Cento's because it was available and inexpensive. I know many here really don't care for it. It did have a somewhat unpleasant tinny taste when tasted direct from the can right after opening, but after heating it with the other ingredients mixed in, the metallic taste was not noticeable. On the cooked pizza (the second one, after 3 days in the refrigerator and after adding the vinegar and more salt), it was very good.

Toppings

8 ounces mozzarella (Publix, low-moisture, part-skim milk, shredded into pea-sized bits)
1/2 cup parmesan (Latteria Soresina, Winn-Dixie, shredded into even finer bits)
1 link of Italian sausage (Premio's mild)
2 cups white mushrooms
1 Tablespoon garlic
2 slices uncooked bacon
1 - 2 Tablespoons sliced red onion
Italian parsley
crushed red pepper flakes
more fennel seeds

Sauteed the sliced mushrooms in a little oil, adding 1 Tbl of garlic during the last 30 - 60 seconds.

Coated the dough with tomato sauce. Topped with garlicky-mushrooms, sausage, uncooked bacon, red onion. Sprinkled with fennel seeds and red pepper flakes. Covered with shredded mozzarella.
Baked in preheated 550F oven for about 15 minutes, until the sausage and bacon were fragrant (hidden under the cheese), and the cheese on the edges was just starting to brown.

Removed from oven. Topped the melted mozzarella with shredded parmesan and parsley.
Returned to oven to cook another 4 - 5 minutes, until the parmesan was melting and starting to brown.
Removed from oven and immediately slipped onto wire rack to cool until easy to cut without burning fingers.


Impression:
Pizza was delicious. Better than any of the other Aurelio's-like pizzas I've tried in the past. (And better than Aurelio's pizzas I've had from the restaurants in recent years--but nowhere near as good as the old Aurelio's.) The textures were perfect and the flavors were good.

Two main problems with previous pizzas I've made have been the problems with the crust, as I noted above, but also I wasn't happy with their ingredients. This is the first acceptable parmesan I've gotten my hands on where I live now that I've tried on pizzas. I've gone through a bunch of other parmesans, all of which were wanting. It's not ideal, but it will do until I find something better--I realize now that I was really spoiled when I lived in NYC because it was easy to get terrific parmesan at the corner markets I shopped at, and I didn't give the brand/maker much thought. The mozzarella was also much better than I was expecting for a generic store-brand. This combo was actually better than much more expensive cheeses I've tried in the past.

The dough looks really underdone and, frankly, unappetizing in the view of the underskirt in the picture. But it was actually quite tasty. I might try cooking this dough and these ingredients again in the future on my old-standby pan to see what difference that makes.

I may need to work on the ingredients mixture in the dough. It was very unpleasant to handle, just too sticky and hard to maneuver, even though the results turned out well in the end.

Obviously, given the ingredients (eg Parmesan) and the rectangular rather than round shape (since cooked on a cookie sheet), it's only meant to be Aurelio's-inspired, not an attempt at an Aurelio's clone. The old Aurelio's cornicione was also very different. Mine here is thicker and looks dryer. The old Aurelio's cornicione, as I recall it, was pinched thin and kind of greasy. The real Aurelio's in the old days also took the sauce and cheese almost all the way out to the tip, whereas I tend to worry about oven spills so stopped a good quarter to half inch from the edge (plus it's nice to have that little edge to hold onto if you're eating one of the outer slices). On the other hand, it's also not a New York-style pizza, given the shape and the toppings being baked under the cheese rather than placed on top.

Offline camwell

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Re: Aurelio's-inspired - A Different Tack
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2020, 03:11:58 AM »
pics

Offline camwell

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Re: Aurelio's-inspired - A Different Tack
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2020, 03:16:17 AM »
Before someone says it, I know canola oil and extra-virgin olive oil have completely different properties, and that may have been one of the issues with the dough's stickiness. I didn't have any olive oil on hand (and personally don't much care for the taste of olive oil).

Offline camwell

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Re: Aurelio's-inspired - A Different Tack
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2020, 10:55:28 AM »
Tried multiple changes in this next iteration.
Since there were so many simultaneous changes, I knew it wouldn't be possible to tell which changes were responsible for specific differences in the outcomes. What I was looking for was whether there was any change at all. An absence of a change would have been significant.

Used Pillsbury bleached all-purpose flour (not Publix unbleached).
Same dough ingredients proportions, but this time used an autolyse rest period (45 min), to see if there might be any difference in how the dough handled.

Combined just cold flour and roughly 3/4 of the water. Let rest at kitchen temperature about 45 minutes.
Mixed active-dry yeast, sugar, salt in remaining, lukewarm water. Began to froth after a few minutes.
Mixed yeast into flour-water. Processed with Kitchenaid stand mixer with dough hook for 4 - 5 minutes.

This dough was much easier to handle than the dough I had prepared in the previous go. Not nearly as sticky.
Also, the yeast-dough mixture didn't smell as good as had been the case before. Kind of stinky, actually. I attribute this to using a different flour, but not sure.

Separated into halves. Placed in plastic freezer bags. Refrigerated.

After 20 hours, removed from refrigerator. Allowed to rest at kitchen temperature for 2 hours.

There were a lot fewer visible bubbles in the dough when removed from the refrigerator, and the dough balls (more like puffy discs, actually) had not risen as high as they had at a roughly similar point in the previous run.
However, the yeast aromas were much stronger.

The dough was much easier to work with at this stage as well than had been the case in the previous run.
Much less sticky, much easier to stretch, with less resistance to being pulled and less tearing, and easier to compress without quickly puffing back up. Didn't take nearly as much extra flour to manipulate it.

Baked on dark, non-stick, perforated pan (instead of on an AirBake cookie sheet) at 550F.

Used different toppings mixture:
- same sauce (now 1 week old)
- Polly-O whole milk mozzarella, shredded (4 oz.)  (instead of Publix part-skim)
- smoked gouda (about 1 oz.)
- Italian sausage (mix of mild and spicy)
- pepperoni (Boar's Head)
- garlicky mushrooms
- no bacon
- parmesan

Major difference was that this pizza cooked a lot faster.
When I checked on the pizza at 15 minutes, planning to remove it from the oven and add the parmesan, it was already done! The cheese had already browned so much that in spots it was close to burning.
I think this was from using Polly-O mozzarella this time instead of the Publix mozzarella I had previously used; I blamed the mozzarella rather than the gouda because the browning was across the whole top of the pizza, whereas the gouda had only been put on a few areas. (I was using a lot less gouda because I wasn't sure I'd like the results.) The browning of the cheese was actually much more extensive before I took the photo. I peeled off some of the more heavily browned cheese bits and then sprinkled on the parmesan and bits of Italian parsley and took the photo, so it looks better than it looked when it first came out of the oven.

Since the pizza was already done, I just sprinkled the parmesan across the top right after it came out of the oven, which is why it looks a little chunky and hasn't melted.

The bottom browned more than in the previous run. Probably almost all due to using the different cooking surface (although part of it may have been due to the different flour, among other factors).

The pizza was very good (better than a lot of pizzas I get from pizzerias around here), but not as good as the one I made last week. I preferred the texture of the crust from the other one, even though it did not look like it had cooked enough. This one was too crisp and crunchy, and a little too stiff, toward the edges, although it was also thin enough that in areas further away from the edges it almost became a little limp.

Again, I need to note that I was aiming to get a crust that is softer, thinner, and less bready/chewy than I think we tend to associate with a lot of common pizza styles. Thin, but not cracker-thin. And relatively underone rather than heavily browned or charred.
« Last Edit: February 10, 2020, 11:00:54 AM by camwell »

Offline camwell

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Re: Aurelio's-inspired - A Different Tack
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2020, 11:03:27 AM »
As I look back at the notes, I see that I used a fair bit less total cheese on this second run, so that may also have been why the cheese cooked faster. (plus it was a little more finely shredded)

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Offline camwell

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Re: Aurelio's-inspired - A Different Tack
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2020, 01:25:49 PM »
Made another pizza using the dough from that second batch (from the last post) a couple of nights ago (72 hrs of refrigeration). Dough was pretty easy to work with.

This time made a cinque formaggi pizza bianca (mozzarella, smoke gouda, asiago, gorgonzola, parmesan - yes, a very complex mixture of cheese flavors!) with lots of crushed garlic, Italian sausage, bacon, mushrooms, red onions, oregano, fennel seeds, topped with fresh basil on some slices and fresh cilantro on others.  Delicious. No pictures because we gobbled them up too fast.

Cooked on the AirBake cookie sheet this time. 14 minutes at 450F. Bottom of the crust didn't brown again, but flavor and texture were perfect.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2020, 01:32:02 PM by camwell »

Offline Jackitup

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Re: Aurelio's-inspired - A Different Tack
« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2020, 11:04:55 PM »
I think you would be MUCH happier with a stone vs the airbake sheet!
Jon

The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.            -Mark Twain

If you don't think you're getting what you should out of life.....maybe you're getting what you deserve       -the Root Beer Lady

Offline foreplease

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Re: Aurelio's-inspired - A Different Tack
« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2020, 06:46:03 AM »
I think you would be MUCH happier with a stone vs the airbake sheet!
^^^  and nearly said so myself yesterday.
-Tony

Offline camwell

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Re: Aurelio's-inspired - A Different Tack
« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2020, 10:23:42 PM »
I think you would be MUCH happier with a stone vs the airbake sheet!
Thanks for the suggestion.   :)  It was getting pretty lonely in here.

You may very well be right, but one of the things I was hoping to get out of this excursion was to see what can be achieved by making do with what's already on hand. I think there's a great value in that.

Also, wouldn't cooking on a pizza stone tend to produce a crispier crust bottom (something I want to avoid)?
I also haven't tried preheating the pans.

Offline Jackitup

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Re: Aurelio's-inspired - A Different Tack
« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2020, 11:03:32 PM »
Thanks for the suggestion.   :)  It was getting pretty lonely in here.

You may very well be right, but one of the things I was hoping to get out of this excursion was to see what can be achieved by making do with what's already on hand. I think there's a great value in that.

Also, wouldn't cooking on a pizza stone tend to produce a crispier crust bottom (something I want to avoid)?
I also haven't tried preheating the pans.

You can achieve a nice brown doneness and avoid being overly crisp by adding oil to the dough, which you already have, maybe try a bit more. Presently you have an unappetizing gummy looking bottom. Maybe an uninsulated sheet pan, I doubt preheating would help much. Or even a screen, costs a few bucks apiece. Even a cheap preheated Walmart stone would be better than an airbake pan. This one would be a good starter stone. Walmart for $9.97, heats up within 20 minutes, I got it for quick frozen pies! Worth a shot! If you want that next level, it requires some investment sometimes! Good luck!
Jon

The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.            -Mark Twain

If you don't think you're getting what you should out of life.....maybe you're getting what you deserve       -the Root Beer Lady

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Online Garvey

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Re: Aurelio's-inspired - A Different Tack
« Reply #10 on: February 19, 2020, 08:45:14 AM »
I agree with Jon and others on here to ditch the Airbake and get a stone.  I wouldn't worry about the bottom getting crispy.  You're using a massive 558g dough ball.  By comparison, I use 300g, and my pizzas aren't exactly cracker crusts, either.  And if you do find that somehow you have achieved a minuscule crispy layer on the very bottom when you pull it out of the oven, just let it sit on a flat surface for a few mins before cutting, and it should soften all the way through.

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