Sunday, September 7, 2014

Pizza and two Breads

Pizza is bread.

I've not felt the need to attempt a pizza dough, but while reading Ken Forkish's book the other day, I figured I'd give it a go.  He has formulas and methods for straight, poolish, and natural levain pizza doughs.  Any time I can bake without commercial yeast, I like to do so, so I tried the natural levain method. It was tremendous!   

Margherita Pizza
I never expected such grand results from my first attempt at a pizza.  This is a margherita pizza, and though I didn't have the proper San Marzano tomatoes, they are on the way, and should be here tomorrow.  The store-brand plum tomatoes were a fine substitute for tonight though, and we were very pleased.

The dough is "overproofed" at room temperature for a long time, then spends 6 hours to a few days retarding in the refrigerator. The result is a chewy, crisp, crusty, flavorful pizza with simple toppings and a crumb that is surprisingly chewy and resilient for a dough made with moderate levels of protein and gluten.  Really excited to try this again.  I can't sell this, but stop by with a six-pack of something good and there's a good chance there'll be pizza in the oven.  Ha!  Just give me two days notice.

Here's a couple more photos. Sorry that they're photos taken with my cell phone, but I didn't have time to fiddle with the DSLR.  I needed to get the second pizza in the oven:

Pizza, fresh from the oven. A bit too much cheese.
 Forkish is detailed in his instructions for baking.  You get your stone in the oven, get it as hot as possible, then alternate between high broil and highest bake heat to emulate the radiant conductive heat of a commercial pizza oven.  You can't hit it for real, but you can make a respectable pie at home.

It only takes about 7 minutes, but that's an eternity compared to the 90 seconds to three minutes or so that it takes for a commercial pizza oven to bake a pie.  Lots of people are infatuated with wood fired ovens.  I don't know that there's anything magic about a wood fired oven in the context of bread beaking.  Pizza, yes, as the fire is still burning while the pizza bakes.  But the fire is gone and the ashes swept away by the time you bake bread in a wood fired oven.

I should have gone to the trouble to get the good camera out for this photo.  Alas.  You get the idea.

I have four loaves of specialty bread proofing this evening.  Two are a new one; a rye and whole wheat pain au bacon with toasted parmesan.  This one is made with four flours, two of which I've milled myself from whole grains, including hard red winter wheat from Utah, and a dark northern rye from Bluebird Grain Farms in the Methow Valley of Washington, which I visited a month or so ago.  This bread is really nice when you bake it seam-side up and let it open along the seams from your final shaping.  I prefer Robertson's "Tartine" shaping for boules, and I think they open up nice in oven spring. The other two loaves are a roasted garlic whole wheat, which I've made before, but I'm excited to see how these turn out.
Another bad cell phone photos of bench-resting boules.

I raised the hydration a little and I tweaked the percent of fresh-milled hard red wheat to get it a little more in line with what I expect; lots of good flavor, delicate crumb, soft, but not spongy.  Making this loaf is a real pleasure.  The dough has a fantastic aroma of roasted garlic, olive oil, and wet flour, all on top of the slightly tangy underlying mild and sweet smell of the natural leaven.  It holds a lot of promise, without being terribly complicated.  Very nice.

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