Friday, January 27, 2012

Pizza, Pizza

If you've been following this blog for any length of time, you know that I am absolutely in love with the books Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day.  Both books make the process of having freshly baked bread easy.

The authors, Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois, published Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day back in October, and the book is every bit as good as the previous two. I am now keeping buckets of pizza dough in the refrigerator for those nights when I can't think of anything else to make. My son sometimes pulls the dough out to make lunch.

As in the previous books, the basic dough takes only minutes to make and goes through an initial two hour rise. Then, into the fridge for up to two weeks, while you pull off balls of dough to shape and bake.Here's a sequence of my son, Michael, making a pepperoni pizza.

Soon after my copy of the book arrived, I decided to let the Sunday Super Supper Squad have a hand at making their own pizzas (Jeff and Zoe have been encouraging pizza parties to promote the book.) I made up the buckets of dough, choosing the basic dough and what they called the "strong" dough which would be better for tossing. Then I divided out the half-pound balls for everyone. I had told folks that I would provide sauce and mozzarella cheese, but they would each have to contribute their own favorite toppings to decorate their own pies.

Our friend Bob Harris (of Jeopardy! fame) showed up ("What could be better than pizza and The Amazing Race?") and jumped right into the fun.
I love having a kitchen that is big enough to accommodate more than a dozen people trying to make pizza.

The evening was a huge hit. I have two baking stones and a double oven, so, while it might have been nicer to make more than two pizzas at a time, it was certainly faster than one pizza at a time.  Dinner was kind of a serial meal that night, but we had a large salad to carry folks through the stages of waiting and there was the viewing of The Amazing Race at the end.

I've found that using the parchment paper helps keep the baking stones a little cleaner and it is easier to get the pizzas on and off the stone.  What we sometimes do is remove the paper for the final few minutes of baking. Generally, it comes off pretty easily and the crust is a bit crisper for it. We also decided we liked the taste and texture of the basic mix better than the "strong" dough. None of us has much skill at tossing to stretch the pizza, so the strong dough isn't really necessary.

I am weighing my flour before mixing the dough. I think it is leading to more consistent results. I also weigh the dough before shaping and stretching it. A half-pound piece was used to make each of the pizzas in the photographs--the final diameter and thickness were all the result of the pizzaiolo's skills.

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