What I forgot to mention in that last post is my new passion for making pizza doughs. I tried a basic recipe off the internet… it was “eh” at best. Then I pulled one out of my Beard on Bread book. It was delicious… but didn’t have the structure I was hoping for.
Earlier today you read about the DiDonato Italian Feast. Helping out at this event was Chef Sarah. After I got my pizza stone I sent her a question about how to make a good dough. She wrote back with the following:
Funny that you mention pizza dough. I literally used to have to make it every Saturday and Sunday morning when I worked at Tresca in the North End. I don’t really have the exact measurements because I kind of put ingredients together and based a “good” dough on texture and sight, but I can tell you secrets:
Always allow your yeast to “come alive” in warm water (110 degrees) with a little sugar.
Make that your first job and set aside until you see foam at the top of your bowl. This means the yeast is active. Then, in a separate bowl combine flour, salt and yeast mixture. (If you have a kitchen aid with a dough hook perfect, but if you don’t do not be discouraged.) By the time you are done incorporating all of the flour necessary you should have a ball of dough that is wet but not wet enough to stick to your hands in full. What I mean is if you placed the palm of your hand in the center of the dough ball and raised it the dough would stick to a point but would eventually fall back into the ball.
As soon as you are done with this step, taste a bit of the dough. You will be able to tell if there is or is not enough salt according to your individual palate. If there isn’t, don’t worry. Add a little more and knead until completely incorporated. Once incorporated coat a large container or bowl with a small amount of olive oil. Roll the dough around in the container and cover. Place in a humid environment – the microwave is awesome if you do not have a shelf warm enough above your stove – and set until the dough doubles in size.
Take out and punch down. Put back in or on the microwave or shelf and again allow to double in size. Once it has doubled, you are ready to form the dough onto a baking sheet, stone, pie plate, whatever you have. So the dough does not stick after it comes out of the oven, sprinkle liberal amounts of semolina on the bottom of your “pan” of choice before forming the shape of the pizza.
Once you have formed the dough proof one last time again in a warm environment. This time don’t cover it. Allow to double. Without punching down and making sure you don’t, carefully cover the dough with toppings of choice. Leave about 1″ the circumference free of toppings . (I would suggest if you like vegetables on the pizza blanch, saute or roast them first because it does not take long for the pizza to cook and you’ll end up with crunchy vegetables) Bake in the oven at 375 until the dough is a gold, uniform, color and the cheese begins to bubble. Take out and set on a cooling wrack for at least 10 minutes. For best results of a gold, uniform color on your crust make sure to gently brush the edges with olive oil before baking.
Using some of Chef Sarah’s tips… I made a fantastic pizza.