Notes from cooking school class
Here is a quick dump of some of the interesting things I found out on
the Weds cooking lesson:
1. You can flavor olive oil with Rosemary by putting a handful of
Rosemary leaves and 1/2 cup of oil in a small steel pan, and letting
it heat through at the very front of the oven. We used in on
Schiaciatta, Focaccio and a desert called Schiaciatta al'Uvo (a grape
2. If focaccio is half way between bread and pizza, schiaciatta is
half way between focaccio and pizzia. It's thin and a little crisp on
the outside, but more doughy and softer than pizza. If you let a
focaccio rise for 30-45 minutes before putting in the little finger
prints, you only let the schiaciatta rest for a few minutes before
cooking it. She only put 1 tbl oil in the dough for both, saying that
most of the oil goes on before and after you bake.
3. Don't cook focaccio (or schiaciatta) in terra cotta. The pan
doesn't heat up fast enough and you get a soft, doughy bottom that
isn't nice (something I've been doing wrong for years). Use steel.
You can cook schiaciatta either directly on the oven floor or in a
pan. We did ours in the falling heat after pizza and before bread,
though I have successful done it in high heat. I tried two the other
day that were about 6"x18". Some of the really cool bakeries make
then about 12"x36".
4. You can add even more olive oil after you have let your focaccio
or schiaciatta absorb the oil you put on before your cook. The
teacher claimed that some bakeries dunk theirs in a pan of oil after
they come out of the oven. I guess that is where the liters of oil
per person per year statistics come from.
5. She poured he oil olive on pizzas from a can with a pour spout
(like a little watering can), something I think is a good idea. You
can go fast, and the oil spreads nicely when your pizza cooks.
6. She didn't even mill her tomotoes. She just beat them up with two spoons.
7. She did a nice drizzle of olive oil and a little tomatoe juice on
the outside of the calzone. I have seen chefs do flat bread
appetizers that way, with a little oregano.
8. Italian anchovies are really nice. They come in glass, are a
little less salty and a little bigger than the canned ones I am used
9. Her view was that the wood fired oven renaissance came to Italy in
the 70's. Following the war, everyone tried to go modern and bought
electric ovens (American ovens as she called them), but after a while
they started remembering their parent's oven fondly and people
started renovating the old ones and putting in new ones.
10. She also pointed out that many of the original Contadini ovens
were stone, not brick. Cheap to build, and functional. The communal
ovens were used by those without their own ovens. She remembered her
mother went to the oven in the village owned by the bakery, which was
made available once a week.
11. You can't get a pizza oven too hot for pizza -- you just cook
faster. I already noted this, but they did not recommend swabbing
with a damp towel for pizza, as it lowers the oven floor temp too
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