Flour for flavor, texture, or both?
(M) Mary and I went to see Tony Gemigniani (sp?) toss pizza dough and it was more entertaining than instructive. But that may be because my questions were unclear. :confused:
(M) I'm looking for more than texture. I'm looking for flavor and Paul suggests it may be in the choice of yeast. I haven't seriously tried experimenting with various flours and yeasts. I was glad to see that FornoBravo offers Caputo 00 but I'm not sure that the traditional Neopolitan pizza is what I'm looking for. It is described as "chewy". Tony made us a basic pizza; just tomato, mozarella, and a touch of garlic. The texture, while probably authentic for that style, was not really what I'm after. I want a thin crust that is more crusty than chewy, but beyond that, I'm not willing to sacrifice flavor in search of texture.
(M) The bottom line is what do I need to compile so that without *any* toppings, the basic pizza "pie" both tastes great and has a crusty texture?
Thanks for your input,
don't knock it til you try it...
the chewiness or toughness of your crust is largely controlled by the thickness of the pettola you create, cooking time, and temperature. personally, i prefer a nice thin crust, but cooked at a high enough temperature that it can be finished before the water has escaped leaving it "crackery." (maybe that's what you like?) the result is chewy edges, but less dense of an interior. if i toss the dough really thin without ever touching the outside 1/2" or so, i can get a slighly crispy bottom, with a nice raised chewy crust. usually it's neither chewy nor crispy, though, and is instead a thin beady constituent of the messy slice in my hand, which is how i like it. (the world renowned 'best pizzeria in the world' in napoli, don michelles, is impossible to eat with your hands. it's an orange puddle of tomato-garlic-infused olive oil on a smoky floppy crust, and is absolutely perfect)
i'm sure once your oven is done, you'll experiment and find what perfectly suits your taste.
by the way, next time i make pizza, i plan to go to the brew store first and buy some liquid yeast cultures.
You would like to give a view to www.pizzamaking.com.
There are there so interesting information and so many directions to follow that your pizza probably never will be that it was again. :-!
I had experienced several recipes/techniques and I am learning a lot. (And the pizza is becoming better and better).
And I cooked my first sourdough breads this last weekend. Mmmmm!
May be we could share our experiences, if you need/like
In the grand scheme of pizza, I think the flour is more important than the yeast.
Lacking easy access to Lievito di Birra, you can start a sourdough culture, and add it to your pizza dough. Anything from a couple tablespoons to a quarter cup with give a simple pizza dough some character and some flavor. Just keep your culture alive by dividing and feeding it, and you will always have it around when you make pizza (or focaccia or bread).
Another thing I do sometimes is use an overnight pre-ferment (a poolish), the way you would for a french bread. I start the dough with most of the water and about half the dough, add the yeast to get is started, then put in the refrigerator overnight. Bring it out the next day, get your measurements right and finish the dough.
I've talked to a lot of pizza chefs, and I think most make their dough in the morning, but I met a few who started it the night before -- for the flavor.
Paul, let us know how the beer yeast works.
The quality of the flour, especially his protein contain, is, indeed, essential to the final quality product that uses it. In pizza talking an high protein degree flour helps the gluten to develop the dough web that will maintain the gases in.
However, since has been difficult to obtain high degree protein flour in my country, I had looking by the different methods of working the dough to help me in developing a good pizza crust and flavor.
Particularly the dough types that I prefer are the VPN (Vera Pizza Nappoletana) and the New York style pizzas (Tom Lenhman´s dough).
To obtain large voids and easy extensibility of the dough, I like to believe that an high hydrated dough (between 60-65% in baker´s percentage – the ratio between flour and water could dramatically change the final dough characteristic) and autolyse are the big factors (preceded by the flour quality, of course) to be considered.
Normally I begin the dough the night before the pizza party, working the total water quantity with 70% of the dry ingredients (flour, little yeast – sugar if required) together, until having something similar to a pancake mixture. The salt is incorporated at this time. Everything should be room temperature. Then let it rest by 20 minutes (autolyse), and start mixing it with the left dry ingredients (knead it) by near of five minutes. Let the dough rest, again, by 3-5 minutes. The dough should be getting much firmer and should form a ball. Let rest by another 20 minutes.
Divide and shape the dough and refrigerate it by 24 hours (you could protect the dough ball with a little-little oil coat).
Two hours before baking the dough is retired from the fridge and immediately before baking is extended and topped as desired.
Two minutes later the pizza will be on your dinner table and 30 seconds after you will be topping another one (or sucking your fingers). 8-}
Yeast comments from Peter Reinhart
I ran the yeast question by Peter, and here is his response:
"As for the yeast, I'm not a big believer that the yeast adds flavor as much as it allows for proper fermentation, which is where the flavor is developed. However, both fresh and active dry yeast do contain some dead yeast cells, and thus contain glutathione, which serves as a dough relaxant. Instant yeast doesn't. That's why a lot of pizzerias use the active dry or the fresh--it makes the dough easier to stretch. But I'm not convinced it, or fresh beer yeast, is the key to flavor. Long, slow fermentation is, and it only takes a little yeast to accomplish that."
i don't really disagree with his analysis, in that i don't believe that a good yeast strain is neccesary for a good dough. in fact, i love the dough i am using right now, using active dry yeast.
however, i can't help but believe that certain yeast strains will affect flavor, for better or worse. in beer making, the yeast strain is arguably one of the most decisive factors in the finished flavor of the beer. the american strains of ale yeast (say, in a sierra nevade pale ale) are known for clean, non-distinctive flavors--that is, they do their job well without adding to much of their own character to the beer. however, the belgian and british ale yeasts add very distinct and pronounced flavors. some are high in esters (fruity smelling and tasting comounds) some high in diacetyl (butter or butterscotch tasting compound) and some range from nutty to clove-like, etc.
honestly, i'm a pizza purist, so i probably would personally stick to a really simple dough recipe for my V.P.N. pizza. (i don't believe the american ale strains would compromise that, actually). but i do think that a british ale yeast in some foccacia, or a belgian ale yeast in some fig-walnut bread could be as interesting as adding sourdough starter to a white bread.
okay, now my curiosity is thoroughly piqued. i'll try and experiment here in the next few days and report back.
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