Pizza Making Progress Report -
With a few
special guest product appearances, too!
It's been awhile since we've written about our own at-home pizza
making experiences. The time is right, and the pizza we made last Sunday was ... well, we'll tell
you about it.
the week before, we'd tried doing some different things: two
different dough recipes, neither of which we'd tried before, and a lot
of guessing and chance. It was really terrible. Let's not talk about it.
This time was about focus and keeping it simple. Nothing fancy. Everything kinda just came
together, and we got to try a new tool and some very
special new tomatoes!
Not too long ago, we received an inquiry from Larry Melberg at Accent A Peel,
asking if we'd try out one of his custom-made pizza peels.
We agreed to try one, and Larry shipped a peel out to us right
tends to get really excited when presented with a new pizza tool (or
any package for that matter). He tore open the box, revealing a
really fine looking basswood peel. We thought about the last
wooden peel we'd purchased (at Target),
and believe us, this was a much better product, made with
As directed we seasoned it with mineral oil, and the peel was ready to go in a
Pizza peel by Accent A Peel
At around the same time, we'd learned that Chris Bianco (still don't know Chris Bianco? Read our interview with the 'zen master of pizza' here) and Rob DiNapoli were now producing Bianco DiNapoli
organic California tomatoes! We asked Chris about them and he sent us
some. Can you imagine how excited we were to be able to taste this new
brand and use them on a pizza or three?
Big can of Bianco DiNapoli
made our dough on Saturday morning, to be turned into pizzas on Sunday
night. By the way, if you don't have a copy of our favorite pizza dough
recipe, it's free when you subscribe to our monthly newsletter (just use the short form on the left border of this page).
Making the Pizza
it easy, we made exactly half the dough our recipe calls for, and
decided to make three 12-oz doughballs instead of the 10-oz
doughballs in the recipe, because we wanted to stretch the dough
bigger and get a little closer to a New York pizza size. The day was
humid and we could have used less water, but we decided to use a sticky
dough, work through it and see how it turned out.
the dough ingredients by hand, resting, mixing a little more and only
a little kneading, we weighed out our dough, shaped the doughballs,
coated them with a little olive oil, put them in individual ziplocs and
We ended up, as expected, with three 12-ouncers and a little 4-ounce 'pizzette.'
It was still nice and early on Saturday, so we made the sauce (click here for a basic pizza sauce recipe).
Cary opened the can of Bianco DiNapoli and almost swooned from the
delectable tomato aroma. He spooned a tomato out of the can, took a
bite, and momentarily considered just
crushing the tomatoes and putting that right on the pizza. We're sure it would have been fine. Lil
took a bite, fell in love with the tomatoes too, and we knew that this was gonna be some sauce.
just added a little salt and pepper (Bianco DiNapoli adds a touch of sea
salt in their process so we didn't need to add much), a few more leaves
(the tomatoes are packed with four leaves of basil per #10 can), and
a couple of cloves of garlic and let the flavors blend until the next
Pizza NightWe lit the oven
about 5pm on Sunday, with two stones - one on the center shelf and one
about six inches above. That setup had worked well in the past, and we
were still keeping it simple.
stone above was, of course, to create a 'heat mass' between the stones,
an oven within the oven. Great in theory, still needs work in our
practice. Our goal is still to get the top to cook at the same rate as
At 5:30 we took the doughballs (which had grown some) out of the refrigerator to lose their chill and grow a bit more.
By 6:30, we placed the peel we'd gotten from Accent A Peel on top of our breadboard (actually, Lillian's grandma Antoinette's breadboard) and started stretching the dough.
was still a little sticky and wet, but worked easily with floured
hands. Using the bigger doughballs, we were able to stretch three nice
round 12" pies. The little 'pizzette' ball gave us about a 5" pizza with a very thin crust.
the first pizza: sauce made with those superb Bianco DiNapoli
tomatoes (cooked only on the pizza), part-skim mozzarella (not Cary's
first choice, but Lillian's trying to keep us healthy), basil, olive
oil, and a bit of grated parmesan on top.
cornicione (the end-crust) is pretty puffy. Part of that comes from
using a wet dough, part of it is the way we've been stretching the
dough. We'd like to get that down a little more, so the toppings don't
get pushed to the middle, but it makes for a good 'hole structure' and
The second pizza, made with the same toppings,
stayed in the oven a bit longer. We won't show you the bottom. Cary
says 'charred', Lillian says 'burned'. Probably right on the border, and emininently edible.
both pizzas, the sauce balanced with the cheese and crust very well. We
probably used too much cheese, but the rich, bright taste of the
tomatoes came through just fine. Can't help but hope that Bianco DiNapoli comes out with a home-size can next year!
yes, the peel: very smooth indeed. We built the pies on it and used it
to place them in the oven. We noticed that the peel didn't need
much bench flour and the pizzas slid off easily, as they should. Accent A Peel
makes peels for home pizzaiolos as well as the professional trade, and
the next time we want to buy a good peel or two, we'll be calling Larry
Melberg! Oh, and if you contact the folks up there, be sure to tell
them you read about them on passion-4-pizza.com!
much as we love the tomatoes, we had to do a white pie too. Dressing
white pizza is becoming one of Lillian's specialties at our house.
We were going to do one with broccoli rabe; unfortunately the
green stuff had been in the refrigerator a little too long, so Lil
decided against it. Using the usual suspects (mozzarella, basil,
ricotta, black pepper and parmesan), Lil crafted a fine pizza:
It was just one
of those pizza nights where everything came together well. Chris Bianco
once told us that we don't make pizza - we're in a relationship with
it. Well, we had a really good date with these pizzas, and we'll be getting together
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