Monday, March 22, 2010
If you happened to study my sidebar on a daily basis, you would notice that pizza napoletana has dropped from my "will make again soon" list to my "might make again someday" list. This has nothing to do with pizza napoletana itself; merely that I have found the died-and-gone-to-heaven pizza crust recipe that I have been searching for, and as far as I'm concerned, I have no need to make another pizza crust recipe ever again. Okay, maybe that's a little dramatic.
At the beginning of February, my dad saw the link on my sidebar to Sally of Bewitching Kitchen's post about meeting Peter Reinhart. My dad recognized Peter Reinhart as the author of my bread challenge book, so he clicked on the link and read all about P.R.'s newest book Artisan Breads Every Day. Unbeknownst to my dad, I had read the same post and had immediately started searching for the book at all of our local libraries; of course there were a million requests and a long long wait to borrow it. Lucky for me, my dad went straight over to Amazon and ordered me the book. Imagine how thrilled I was to open it a couple of weeks later on my birthday!
Anyway, we had some friends over on Saturday night, and I wanted an easy(ish) make-ahead dinner plan so that I could spend most of my time visiting. Individual pizzas are always a hit, and I can do all of the prep the night before. But the night before, when it came time to make the pizza dough, I suddenly got stressed out. Everyone knows I'm in a bread baking challenge. I couldn't really make the same old nothing-special pizza dough I'd always made in the past, could I? What would people think?!
Given the struggles I'd faced with shaping and baking, pizza napoletana did not seem like a wise choice for an evening of entertaining. I debated turning the oh-so-delicious foccacia into pizza, as P.R. talks about, but I was unsure of how it would bake up in my mini-pizza pans. I also wasn't clear if I should use the herb oil or regular old red pizza sauce (hubby and his friends think that pizza without red sauce is not pizza). I looked around for some deep dish recipes, thinking maybe they would be best suited for my mini pans, but I don't like the greasiness of most deep dish recipes.
And then I opened Artisan Breads Every Day and found the recipe for neo-neopolitan pizza dough. It looked pretty easy, so I thought, "Why not?" I wanted to make individual pizzas and there were eight of us, so I upped the recipe by half.
I used my dough whisk to mix all of the ingredients: bread flour, salt, instant yeast, sugar, water, and olive oil. I let it rest for five minutes and then let my stand mixer knead it for three minutes. I dumped the dough out onto the counter, did the required stretch-and-fold, decided the dough was still pretty slack (I attributed it to increasing the recipe), let it rest another ten minutes, did one more stretch-and-fold, and then divided it into eight eight-ounce balls. Slapped them on a sheet pan and into the fridge for an overnight rest. Easy peasey.
The next afternoon, I pulled the pan out and let it rest on the counter for a couple of hours. The dough balls had grown a lot overnight and were smooshed into each other. Next time, I will use two sheet pans. When it was time to make the pizzas, I pulled each ball off of the pan and used my thumbs to stretch it out. This dough was so nice and easy to work with. It was such a difference from the pizza napoletana; totally stress-free.
They cooked more quickly, too: only seven minutes each. We tented them with foil when they came out of the oven so they were all still hot when we sat down to eat. And the taste? Hubby and I enjoyed the pizza napoletana, but we were both disappointed with how thin and crispy the crust was. This was my perfect pizza: thick and chewy on the edges, but not too thick and greasy like deep-dish pizzas, a light layer of flavorful pizza sauce (same recipe I posted in pizza napoletana), a combination of mozzarella, parmesan, and asiago cheeses, and pineapples and mushrooms on top. I will be making this one again!