Making Pizza - Not A Pizza Hero!
Part of our mission here at Passion-4-Pizza is to encourage you to have your own pizzadventures - not just eating out, but in the kitchen, making pizza! If we can make pizza at home, from scratch, so can you - and it really is a joy to make, to eat, and to serve to others. Making pizza is easier than you might think - but it does present challenges. And not always the same challenges!
On a recent rainy Friday night, Cary wanted to make dough. Not just make dough, but experiment. This would be our third time making pizza at home.
We knew that the humidity could have a negative effect, and mixing flours could be risky, but Cary thought, I've studied with Reinhart and Gemignani, I've read the books, looked at some of the forums onpizzamaking.com, and my last pizzas were excellent. Nothing can stop me. So with the sound of thunder and rain outside the windows, we assembled flours, water and yeast.
We'd been using King Arthur Bread Flour and having delicious results, but it was time to experiment with some other flours too.
Our daughters had given us a lot of Caputo '00' flour as a Christmas gift - ten red one-kilogram bags. We'd been away for January and February, and one of the things we'd learned while we were away was - Caputo 00 in the BLUE bags was better for pizza! Cary had acquired some Caputo Blue and a few other flours at Tony Gemignani's Home Chef pizza class in San Francisco and wanted to play, so back to making pizza!
We used two cups of King Arthur Bread Flour, one cup of Caputo Red, one of Caputo Blue and one cup of Pendleton Power Flour (because we ran out of King Arthur after two cups!).
We opened up a small package of Active Dry Yeast and poured in into some warm water. It sat there. We threw it away. Opened another, this time Red Star ADY. After a few moments -- one bubble! Figuring they couldn't BOTH be dead (whatever gave us that idea?), we mixed the water, flour and yeast in a bowl by hand.
Cary forgot to wet his hands first, so within seconds his mitts were covered with pasty, sticky dough that wouldn't quit. He wasstill picking little dough nits off the back of his hand into the next day. The dough was too stiff, so we added water. Then it was too wet, so we added a little flour. Last, we added salt.
We started kneading, and within minutes we had a thick, lumpy mess that didn't stretch at all. Lillian looked at Cary and said, "I know what to title this story! 'Don't try to be a hero on your third attempt!'"
She was right, of course.
Lil took over the kneading, pounding the dough, folding and pushing and folding and pushing until the dough just gave up. She let it rest and then kneaded some more. After awhile it started to look and behave like pizza dough, but we weren't too encouraged. Hence, the lack of photographic evidence.
Cary cut up the dough and made small doughballs, oiled them, placed them in ziploc bags, and put them in the refrigerator, praying that they'd rise slowly, and be pizzas on Sunday.
By Saturday afternoon, the five little doughballs were - five little doughballs. No growth. "We may have to throw thewhole thing out," said Lillian. Cary nodded, but remained hopeful.
On Sunday, there'd been some growth - the doughballs were noticeably bigger. Good enough for Lillian to go out and buy cheeses and Cary to make the sauce (would have been better to make it on Saturday, but hadn't been that optimistic!). He opened a can of LaValle tomatoes, added some sea salt, some garlic and fresh basil, stirred it up and let it sit. Lil came home with aged mozzarella, fresh mozzarella, grated Locatelli Romano and Parmigiana-Reggiano.
In the afternoon, we took the dough out of the refrigerator to get the chill off and lit the oven, planning to heat two pizza stones (one on the top shelf, one on the bottom) for about two hours. We'd made our previous pizzas on one stone.
The doughballs grew as they lost their chill. Was this going to work?
After awhile, Cary started pushing the dough. It was pliable and easy, a little weaker than earlier pizzas, but strong enough so that Cary started tossing the dough! Nothing acrobatic mind you, just a little spin in the air...
A few of the pizzas tore slightly but repaired easily. The oven was really hot, thanks to the two stones (we really must get an oven thermometer), and the pizzas were delicious, if we do say so ourselves. The crust was flavorful, had an excellent 'hole structure', came out nice and thin but with a toothsome chew.
Nothing heroic, but we wish you could have tasted it!
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