Sunday, May 30, 2010


Over the years, I've made a lot of pizza. It was probably the first bread I ever baked, and one of the things I bake most often. I have an ongoing quest to prefect my pizza recipes. I've even attended a Saturday morning pizza course at Johnson and Wales taught by Peter Reinhart. So as soon as pizza hit the recipe list for the Hamelman Challenge, I jumped on it.

I've made the recipe twice now. The first time I made one large pizza per the recipe and two smaller pizzas cutting the dough for the larger pizza in half, i.e. one 16 oz pizza and two 8 oz pizzas. The large pizza cooked for about 14 minutes, the smaller for about 10. I used tomato sauce, mahon cheese, and Italian sausage for the large; mushrooms, purple onions and cheese for one small pizza;and just cheese for the other small pizza. The mahon, something that I just had on hand, worked very well on the pizza.

The crust had a very nice flavor. It was a bit thicker than what I've been baking lately. I found it particularly easy to work with.

For the second pass, I replaced 25% of the flour with whole wheat flour. (Whole wheat worked well!) I made four 8 oz pizza. I put two of the dough balls, immediately after forming, into the freeze and one into the refrigerator. I'll report back on these later. I baked the one remaining pizza.

For the pizza I made, I used a technique describe in Blumenthal's "In Search of Perfection". I heated a cast iron pan on top of the stove to around 600 degrees (it was cooler at the edges), flipped the pan putting the pizza on the bottom of the pan, then placed the pan directly under the broiler, about 1 inch away. (I use an IR thermometer to judge the temperature of the pan.) This took about 3 minutes to cook. I used this technique before. It produces a super hot, quick cooking pizza that comes closer to a pizza oven than a pizza stone. The distinction between this and a stone cooked is noticeable---this technique is better but tricky. I still haven't mastered this technique.

I made a pizza with mahon, basil, fresh tomatoes, basil, bacon, and an egg. This is a variation of a recipe I first had at Peter Reinhart's restaurant, Pie Town in Charlotte. I was very pleased with the results. This is now my go-to recipe when making thicker crust pizzas.

Update (6/27/10): A day later I went back and made pizza from the dough in my refrigerator. Last week I pulled the dough from the freezer and put it into the refrigerator. After a few days in the refrigerator, I made pizza with the dough. In the case of the refrigerated dough, I got very little rise out of the dough giving a relatively flat dough. I say "relatively" because I actually got more rise out of it than the frozen dough which gave a very thin crust. My advise is, if you want to fix pizza dough in advance and refrigerate or freeze, go to one of Reinhart's recipes.

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