The Great Pizza Experiment

I caught you drooling.

This is probably going to be the most emotional, passionate, scary, experimental and let’s just say it-borderline dramatic post I will ever write. Why? Because I am going to attempt to scratch the surface of what has transpired over the past thirty days in my household. Yes, I experimented with…

pizza dough.

It all started when I was getting frustrated attempting dough in the drier Calgary climate, and wanted to get a bit more serious about my pizza making. Yes, I have made pizza many a times in a restaurant (doing demos) and also at home (to please my kids), but I have never really been satisfied.

So what started out as a curiosity turned into pizza crazy-making at casa mia. It began with the flour. OH MY GOD. The flour. First, I will never ever use any kind of all purpose flour again to make pizza dough. It will, and I swear on a stack of pizza boxes, be only TIPO 00 and Tenero flour. It is the best, I tried it all, and asked a few friends who are chefs for their basic Neapolitan pizza dough recipe.

I scoured the internet, I experimented with time, temperature, bowl size, room temperature…in the fridge, out of the fridge, using a scale, filtered water, with salt, without salt…and yes, I completely understand that the answer has probably is most definitely out there on the internet already, but hey. I like to learn things the hard way. And I sure did (setting off my smoke alarm a few times trying to get a nice, hot oven).

With all of this, here are what I personally consider the holy grails of pizza rules if you want a truly marvelous, Napolese-style pizza.

Rule #1: The Flour.

Only use TIPO Farino Di Grano Tenero flour. Like Poselli, or whatever you can get your hands on at the local Italian specialty market.

Rule #2: The Sauce.

Canned, whole San marzano tomatoes, from Italy only. Crush gently in your hand with minimal herbs, dash of salt, some great EVOO, and a teensy bit of minced garlic that has been roasted goes a lonnng way. Make the tomatoes shine, not your herb garden.

Rule #3: The Pizza Stone.

If you don’t have a fancy pizza oven, then you need to hike up your oven mega hot-to about 550F and heat a pizza stone in there for at least a half hour before you attempt to slide your dough on it. Trust me.

Rule#4: The Stretching of the Dough.

DO NOT ROLL YOUR DOUGH WITH A ROLLING PIN. Hand stretch or toss, do not press and use MINIMAL dough manipulation. You will literally destroy all those lovely bubbles you want in your dough if you do.

Rule #5: The Adding of Salt.

Yes, salt usually goes great with just about anything, except adding too soon in your pizza-making process. When mixing your dough, try dissolving your salt and adding closer to the end of your first mix, so the yeast has time to activate or starter. We are not using a lot of it, and also, not a lot of yeast either.

Rule #6: Use Your Judgement.

Air is dry? Add a bit more water. Air is humid? A bit colder water. Dough doesn’t seem elastic enough after the first rest? You might have killed it or used a bad starter or bad yeast. Chuck it, start over. This is a two-day process, so no point disappointing yourself.

Rule #7: Fresh Ingredients Only.

I feel bad having to write this, as I hope most do use fresh, but yes-you need fresh mozzarella, fresh torn basil, filtered water that is cold and everything should be high-quality.

Rule #8: Use The Broiler.

Your last two minutes or so, you will want to broil the top on high to mimic a pizza oven, where temperatures will get as high as 800-1000 degrees F. This will get you some nice browning. Not burning-browning. If it is burning, don’t blame that on me-you need to watch this step closely.

Rule #9: Weigh Your Ingredients.

Yes, you can measure, and it may turn out ok I am sure, but weighing results in a much better consistency time and time again.

Rule # 10. Don’t Rush Things.

If at first you don’t succeed, try again right? And also, please don’t attempt to take a bite of your delicious pizza pie as it comes out of that 550 degree oven. It needs to rest. Let the cheese firm up a bit, the pizza to cool slightly, and then, and only then, take a well-deserved bite of heaven.

The Recipe

With some modifications, I actually found this recipe to be the closest to the real deal, without having to go to Italy. I recommend highly giving it a try. I have about five different variations of this recipe, but if you want something very well written out and easy to read, this guy did a bang-up job.

The Pizzas

Without further adieu, here are the experiments of the month.

I know, drool away. 🙂

Experimenting with different water temperatures for the yeast.
This was broiled for two minutes. Added arugula once cool.
Pockets of goodness.
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