26 School House

A series of interesting articles about techniques and concepts used in our recipes.

Making the Best Pizza You Have Ever Tasted

Dough is the key to great pizza. You can make your own, but it takes 24 hrs to create decent dough that stretches well. The easiest approach is to purchase dough. Either Big Y or McQuaids sell dough that works very well although it is very elastic and can be a little difficult to stretch. As soon as you get the dough, Form it into a ball, stretching the outer surface around the ball. It is best if the dough is allowed to warm up before stretching. As a very general rule, 300g of dough will make a 12”pie.

If you make your own dough. There are two flours to look for 1) Caputo 00 is the standard for Neopolitana style pizza, it is very fine, easy to stretch, and makes a light tender crust 2) All Trumps brominated high gluten flour is a standard for NYC style pizza that is chewy and has with big pockets of air.

Use any cheese you want. Mozzarella is the most popular, but in some areas of the country provolone is used exclusively. Grate, crumble, or dice your own. Pre-shredded cheese has additives to keep it from molding and from clumping; check the ingredients and you will see cellulose. Yummy! If you are going to use any type of blue cheese, use it sparingly. Fresh mozzarella works well although it does have a higher moisture content and can make a wet pizza; tear it into pieces or just slice it, don't try to grate it.

Use high-quality toppings. Get good sausage, thick bacon, ripe tomatoes etc. Don’t use canned olives or mushrooms...Ever! Fresh, really good tomatoes are are to find, so I frequently use canned whole tomatoes. Just cut them in half, press lightly with a paper towel to get some of the juice out then slow roast them at 225 with some olive oil, and some salt for about 45 min.. You can cook em higher like 350, but watch them carefully or you will burn them. Sprinkle with a little Worcester to turn them into super umami bombs. Cook down the left over juice and use it for the sauce

Pre-cook or air dry toppings that have significant grease or water content. This includes mushrooms, sausage, peppers, onion, bacon etc..

slowly cooking sausage and mushrooms

This prevents a soggy pizza and limp crust. Precooking also allows you to add extra flavor like balsamic vinegar added to sautéed peppers, or Worcester sauce to mushrooms. To the right, high quality sausage from a local butcher is slowly cooking with some mushrooms. Get creative.

salmon Pizza

If you use seafood items like scallops, shrimp, salmon chunks ( see picture) don't precook them.

Lamb and fresh olives can make a great Greek pizza. Good ingredients can be boosted to become real stars.

Stretch the dough

Put a 1/2cup of flour on the wooden pizza peel. Put the dough ball on the flour and press down in the middle of the ball with fingertips. At no point should you touch the outer1/2” of the rim. There are many techniques to stretching the dough. Check out Youtube. Once you are done, lay the dough down, making sure there is plenty of flour to keep it from sticking. The easiest method is to put the pizza on a pizza screen, since you can cook the pie without having to slide it off. Pictured below is a stretched dough on a screen. It was very elastic dough that was difficult to use but irregular crust actually looks better when finished. The screen is great because it makes it much easier to load and remove from the Pizza oven.

NEW TIP! If the dough is too elastic and starts to tear, cover it with a wet paper towel for a couple minutes then continue to stretch it. The dough relaxes and is much much easier to stretch!

Sauce it.
If you use tomato sauce, it makes sense to cook it down a little to get rid of water. Be careful not to go too heavy on the sauce when you are putting it on. Keep it very light in the. I usually use canned whole tomatoes, either pureed or just crushed by hand.

middle to avoid a sogfest.

Cheese it
Heavier near the rim, because it will tend to flow towards the center

Top It
Limit the toppings to two items. The tendency is to add a boatload of toppings which makes it impossible to taste the full character of each item. If somebody takes a bite with

sausage pizza fresh

their eyes closed, they should be able to name the pizza. Items that can roll, like meat balls, can be cut in half. Don't over do everything. Great toppings don't need to be in a giant pile. In the pic we have fresh Mozzarella, home-made ricotta, slow roasted local sausage, and a few canned whole tomatoes

For Appetizers you can make long pies so the slices are easier to handle. The uncut pie below has smoked pork and was finished with a little smokey chipotle sauce. Each slice has sausage and shows how how can arrange toppings to make sure each slice has the primary topping on it.

Cook it. See Blackstone Instructions

Finish it
Slide it off onto a cooling rack or a rack in the oven to keep steam from softening the bottom. Add fresh basil, and a touch of salt. Larger toppings can be jazzed up with hot sauce or with sauces that would have burned in the oven. White

Finished pizza

pizzas can be finished with a little garlic olive oil

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