#1  
Old 08-21-2005, 09:26 PM
Serf
 
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Location: Minnesota/Wisconsin
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Question Yeast

Many years back I was able to get an Italian pizza yeast at Williams-Sonoma. It had a great flavor that was very distinct. They stopped carrying it several years ago. Does anyone have a favorite yeast they use.
I'm a home brewer and mead maker so I know what a difference yeast strains can have on the finished product.

/|\
Phil
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  #2  
Old 08-23-2005, 11:25 AM
paulages's Avatar
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i would also be really interested in finding this. like phil mentioned, the strain of yeast used can make more of a difference in the taste of beer than any other ingredient. i can't help but feel that this would be the same for pizza crust. back in the olden days, yeast was kept alive by being handed back and forth between the baker and the brewer. the brewer would use a dough ball for a yeast starter, and the baker would use beer.

phil--try using a white labs culture and see what happens! maybe i'll try making a dough from a fresh IPA krauzen...
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Old 09-28-2005, 11:25 PM
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Default Yeast and pizza

Paul,

How did the IPA come out???

I've been thinking about your thread on yeast, and want to run an idea by the group. My view is that yeast is pretty far down the food chain on what makes a great pizza. Following an analytic thread, probably completely out of line with Pizza Napoletana, I've been thinking about how to weigh the various component parts of an authentic pizza. You have:

- A real brick oven
- flour
- olive oil
- tomatoes
- salt
- yeast
- pizza tools
- dough handling
- water (the Neapolitans would claim their water and espresso is the best)
- mozzzalella
- oregano
- garlic
- quality of firewood
- path of the moon
- etc.

I was wondering if members would send in their ratings on what makes up a great pizza. If you could allocate (100) point to what makes up the perfect pizza (no more, more less), how would you allocate the 100 points. Can we leave the skill of the Pizzaiolo, and specific toppings on one side?

To kick things off, I offer:

30 brick oven (hot)
20 dough handling (don't use a rolling pin)
15 Italian pizza flour
10 excellent olive oil
10 San Marzano tomatoes
5 choice of cheese, good mozzarella
5 good tools (don't mess it up)
3 yeast
2 the rest

Here's my first pass. What do you think?

James
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  #4  
Old 09-30-2005, 07:17 PM
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Default A great Pizza is impossible for me to quantify

I was wondering if members would send in their ratings on what makes up a great pizza. If you could allocate (100) point to what makes up the perfect pizza (no more, more less), how would you allocate the 100 points. Can we leave the skill of the Pizzaiolo, and specific toppings on one side?

#40

James wrote"

"To kick things off, I offer:

30 brick oven (hot)
20 dough handling (don't use a rolling pin)
15 Italian pizza flour
10 excellent olive oil
10 San Marzano tomatoes
5 choice of cheese, good mozzarella
5 good tools (don't mess it up)
3 yeast
2 the rest

Here's my first pass. What do you think?

James"
================================================== =====

(M) I haven't even finished my dome so I'd rather not get into any quantitative ratings but I'd like to offer some general thoughts on what helps any great meal, be it Beef Wellington, or Pizza.

(M) One of the main ingredients I feel is a certain hunger. Another is really neat friends to contribute their energy. There should be either a good wine &/or great beer. Freshness of the ingredients is extremely important to me.
Time to relax before and after the meal is important too, as is time to prepare the food. But don't worry it to death. The best cooks work quickly and don't fuss except perhaps in the presentation.

(M) I'm not experienced in real Italian pizza evaluation although I've had some in 1960 and was underwhelmed. I was too used to the overbearing overly dressed pizza's I had as a teenager and I was not able to bring to the tasting any open mindedness. I missed all the stuff we piled on top. Now, I think I would be more aware of the crust; something I believe is only possible in a very hot oven.

(M) I know nothing about "San Marzano tomatoes". I don't favor Roma tomatoes as I find them great looking but insipid in flavor. Give me Camparie (sp?) hot house tomatoes any time. They have a really deep flavor. I also favor the red hued garic, like Spanish Roja. It should always be pressed freshly from the clove. And of course Extra Virgin Italian olive oil.

(M) "Good Mozarella" ??? I've never had "good" Mozarella, perhaps because I haven't had real Italian Mozzarella. I can't imagine Mozarella being more exciting than Jack Cheese or String Cheese. How about an Italian Fontina as a substitute for Mozarella, with freshly grated Granna Padana (sp?) Parmesan to add some "bizazz".

(M) And, for me, please consider spreading the tomatoe sauce close to the circumference. I don't feature a dollop of red in the center and dry edges. But do cook mine a bit toasty. I don't like to hold or eat a soggy limp pizza.

(M) Hey, I forgot that I'd like my pizza with a great Caesar salad.

(M) Sorry James that I'm not qualified to enter your rating survey as a Newbie, but I'm too picky even if I were an experienced Pizzaiolo. But as soon as the oven is up and running, I'll check back with you all on making the ultimate Pizza dough. I suspect that Paul is onto something about the yeast. Baguettes in France, and Broetchen in Berlin used to make any domestic copy ,made with the ubiquitos "dough extenders" blush. Also, we are only just starting to make some good beers in this country. Could be that yeast is part of it. And why is it that the Italian imported pasta
blows our so called American "Barilla" pasta out of the tub? The grain !

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler" ( A. Einstein) Great cuisine is anything but simple!

Ciao,

Chef Marcel
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  #5  
Old 09-30-2005, 08:44 PM
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okay, this is certainly not conclusive, but my attempt at a rating scale.

first, though james excluded it (perhaps precisely because it can be such an important factor), i think there really is something to the personal art of creating a pizza (or any food for that matter). i really believe you can take exactly the same ingredients and factors, and come up with completely different products based on who has combined them and how they did it. i believe james excluded the pizzaolo factor because a person's ability to combine flavors well isn't something quantifiable, nor is it easy to translate over a message board. if he didn't mean this, then i do. in the end, i can't exclude certain characteristics which boil down to skill. that said...

1. wood fired oven
you can't explain what the slight smokiness adds to a pizza until you've tried it.

2. dough---incredibly important. in order of importance:
a)good pizza flour (i didn't realize this until recently, and i can't stress how different it is)
b)proper mixing and handling
c)yeast may factor in here, after some expirimentation...i swear it is of absolute importance in beer and bread making. it only makes sense that it would impact pizza crust as well.

3. fresh tomatoes. i like romas the best for pizza, but only because the much superior in flavor heirlooms are too watery. romas blend well, and with a pinch of salt are the perfect consistency and taste great.

4. fresh garlic. i have a friend who is a garlic farmer. he is an absolute nut about garlic, and has done extensive research about garlic, its genetic lines, and what garlic is best suited for specific purposes (fresh eating, roasting, sauteeing, etc.). he is going to help me find the perfect garlic strain for pizza. he has hundreds of varieties. for the most part, i agree with marcel for now, that spanish roja, and these type hardneck garlic with pungent characteristics are the best for pizza.

5. extra virgin olive oil. to be honest, i have expirimented with more expensive E.V.O. oils, and the $20 a gallon version i usually buy is as good as any. i'm not big on the "greener" tasting ones, which tend to be the pricier ones, and in fact probably prefer a greek kalamata olive oil the most. however, olive oil is paramount to a great pizza.

6. simplicity. i think too much is a bad thing. i want to taste everything i put on a pizza, even if the ingredients blend into an overall flavor.

7. richness. if you're gonna put something on a pizza, i think it should be assertive. what's the point of eating something if you can't taste it? (garlic, fresh tomatoes, capers, olives, whatever---just know they're there).

8. balance. different flavors shouldn't fight for the same space on your palatte. if you are using something salty, balance it with a different flavor characteristic. thai cuisine has mastered this, with the wonderful combinations of saltiness, sweetness, spiciness, and sourness. i believe balance is also why the classic italian ingredients work so well together. if it aint broke, don't fix it!

9. good mozzerella. personally, i think mozzerella mellows out the richness of the ingredients i prefer in a pizza nepolitana-style pizza, but i can recognize that quality in any ingredients used is of upmost importance, and well, most people prefer cheese on their pizza.

10. oven temperature. too cold and the crust dries out and becomes tough. it's hard to get too hot, but i suppose the result would be garlic that doesn't cook enough and is too pungent or something like this.

in the end, i really believe it's up to the creator, but these are certainly inportant factors.
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  #6  
Old 09-30-2005, 08:46 PM
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by the way, though not rated in percentage, i did list in order of importance. but that's just my opinionated but humble opinion.
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  #7  
Old 10-03-2005, 07:05 AM
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Gentlemen, you guys are certainly putting a lot of thought into this. There is definitely something special about the brick-oven taste. I cannot walk towards the oven at times without one of my "four" asking me if I'm going to "light it up"!
I will have put a little thought into the percentages. For now I agree with Paul...simpicity and freshness of ingredients will always yield great results.

Bon Apetitto,

Bob C
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