Brad's Signature Pizza
Pizza Quest was an idea that popped into my mind a couple of years ago. I called my buddy Jeff about the book I just read - Peter's "American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza". Not long after I was corresponding with Peter and Jeff about how we could make this idea a show. It still isn't a show on TV, but we have launched the website and if it's anything, it is an adventure in and of itself. We have put some hard work into the site and hope it's been as enjoyable to our guests as it has been for us.
Another idea came along about 6 months ago and many of you have been following our quest to challenge Patrick Rue and his brewers over at The Bruery. It was quite an experience watching and living that idea as it blossomed from it's inception to us chasing this unique beer and pizza pairing across the western United States. I find myself at home now, thinking back on the whole thing, and I'm smiling. It was just amazing to be me standing with the likes of Peter Reinhart, Kelly Whitaker and Patrick Rue. My father is an actor. I remember when I was younger - oh, so much younger. He had come home from filming an episode on Cheers during it's hay day. He said it was like stepping in and playing on a Super Bowl Team for the week. As I wrote in a previous photo caption, I felt like I was standing with giants.
We didn't move the world. But, we moved our lives a good measure toward our common quest for a better quality of life. Each of us can participate in this everyday, or as often as we wish. True artisans like Kelly, Patrick or so many others we have met along the way do it for a living. But, it's there for all of us to experience as we challenge ourselves to participate in life. It's amazing to me, even as one of the nuts behind Pizza Quest, that pizza can be such an interesting way of exploring these aspects of life.
One of the benefits of being a Pizza Quester is that you get a few perks. We don't get many, but the few we've gotten have been nice indeed. Patrick offered me a keg of Birra Basta since they didn't bottle it. I didn't have a kegerator, but always wanted one. So, now I have a kegerator and a keg of Birra Basta - a beer brewed by a great brewery that was at least partially inspired by my ideas. How cool is that?
Now, what better way to enjoy the beer than to make the pizza it was created for?
Here's my first version of the pizza that Kelly created to rest atop of Peter's Signature Bruery Pizza Dough. I will follow this up with a few more variations on this pizza in the coming weeks, which all turned out amazing as well.
Brad's Home Made Pizza Quest Challenge Pizza:
-Pizza Quest Signature Beer Pizza Dough
*Any dough will work, but I have to say it's worth it to make this dough (you can get the flour by contacting Central Milling -- see the link to their site at the top of this page).
*I couldn't find any, so I substituted baby Belgian endives
-Burrata Cheese -- it's a blend of fresh mozzarella filled with creme fraiche or mascarpone cheese.
*Kelly Whitaker made his own in a pressure cooker. Lacking the time and skills, I found a baking product called Lemon Curd to use instead. It gave a nice tart lemon flavor in bursts as well as a sweet finish.
*I found a marinaded white anchovy at Whole Foods. It was delicious - was dressed in a lemony/herby oil - which I used to toss into the greens.
*I had some wild arugula around. This worked great.
*I didn't have that, so I diced up a little fennel greens and sprinkled some sea salt to finish the pizza.
Spread the dough to your desired size.
Add the Burrata Cheese around the center of the dough (it will melt and spread).
Lay out the endive leaves.
Into the oven it goes…
While the pizza cooks, toss some greens with the white anchovies. Again, these were dressed in a nice lemony herby oil. I didn't add anything else to the salad.
Take the pizza out after 8-10 minutes.
Add the lemon curd, or preserved lemon in little dabs around the pizza. This is meant to be a surprise, not an all over flavor. It's not a flavor you would think of for pizza but, as you'll see in some coming recipes, I've become a big fan. That may have to do with the fact that I have a Birra Basta sitting next to me that Patrick infused with Lemon Peel during the brewing. Maybe...
Lay the salad mixture over the hot pizza.
Sprinkle the fennel and a little sea salt across the pizza (sparingly).
Cut and Serve…
Oh, and pour your second glass of bier!
This pairing works. The crust sets it all up and you are literally experiencing a flavor affair in your mouth. You then take a sip and it becomes something else, similar but altogether different. Enjoyable is a word that comes to mind.
I ate this pizza all by myself. I had some other ideas along these lines that I wanted to share with my family - but they wouldn't go near the white anchovies with a 10 foot fishing pole! Of course, I'm not talking about my son Owen - he actually walked in and had one of the slices.
More to come on this...
I think the Marinara Pizza may be many pizzaiolos favorite to make. It is a pizza pie with no cheese and I think reflects the skill and passion of a pizza maker's ability to evoke deep flavors from such simple ingredients. I remember asking Pizzeria Basta's Kelly Whitaker what his favorite pizza was to make and he said, without hesitation that it was the Marinara. He said, "My favorite pizza goes back to the basic principle of being as simple as possible…the marinara."
Marinara sauce is said to come from the term Mariner's sauce. One of the folk legends about the history of this sauce says that it was invented after the Spaniards introduced the tomato to Europe and it quickly became the sauce of choice for those at sea because it was simple, easy to make, was flavorful and wouldn't spoil as fast as other sauces on their long journeys. No matter where it came from, it is a simple sauce that is full of the robust flavors of quality tomatoes.
The traditional Marinara Pizza has tomatoes crushed, or blended, sliced fresh garlic, fresh oregano, extra virgin olive oil and maybe some sea salt to taste. Some pizzerias may use basil instead, or in addition to the oregano. This pizza not only allows the skill of the pizza maker to come through, but really showcases the quality of the individual ingredients.
This is the perfect tomato based pizza for me to explore my skills, and experiment with these new Bianco DiNapoli Tomatoes that I've been loving.
The Marinara Pizza
Dough - Central Mills 00 flour (or your favorite Napoletana dough recipe)
Bianco DiNapoli Hand Crushed Organic Tomatoes (or your favorite brand)
Thinly sliced fresh garlic
Fresh oregano leaves
Extra virgin olive oil
This pizza is all about balance. Since there is nothing on top of the tomatoes you have to layer enough sauce to ensure that the sauce doesn't dry up, or dry out in the oven. I think the longer bake times in a home oven can make this more of a dance, than if it were done with a 90 second bake in a wood fired oven. Top with the ingredients keeping balance in mind. This pizza is all about the tomatoes. The garlic, oregano and oil are there as accents.
Add your sauce - in this case simply hand crushed tomatoes. I didn't add any sea salt to any of my pizzas using these tomatoes. There was no need. There might be, however, if you use a different brand (especially since Bianco DiNapoli tomatoes are only available to a few pizzerias and not to the public--sorry!!)
Add the thin slices of garlic
I added a little olive oil prior to baking.
Into the oven!
When it comes out, add the oregano leaves and drizzle with a little more oil.
Cut, serve and Enjoy!
Pizza Margherita ( A One Day Sourdough Crust Formula)
I said in an earlier post that I would come up with a one day sourdough formula for a pizza crust. Well, I have one I think you’ll like.
I really enjoy the simplicity of Pizza Margherita. Wikipedia says: In 1889, during a visit to Naples, Queen Margherita of Italy was served a pizza resembling the colors of the Italian flag, red (tomato), white (mozzarella) and green (basil). This kind of pizza has been named after the Queen as Pizza Margherita.
Well, mine does have all of those colors so I guess you could say this is a Pizza Margherita. I love basil, the smell and the flavor is just right on a pizza. I often cannot keep it for long and a trip to the market is an hour for me, so I sometimes will freeze it while it is still fresh. It doesn’t have the eye appeal that the fresh basil does, but at least I have it when I need it. This pizza is sans fresh tomato and fresh basil (I used the frozen basil), but it still tastes terrific! The toppings include a crust spread with olive oil, pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese and basil leaves.
Formula for One Day Sourdough Pizza Crust:
Early in the morning, in your dough folding trough or mixing bowl mix together:
• 12 oz/340g of vigorous sourdough starter at 100% hydration, which was fed the night before
• 9 oz/255g water
• 4 oz/113g evaporated milk
• 1.5 oz/42g oil (I like to use olive oil)
• 4 oz/113g white whole wheat flour
• 9 oz/255g bread flour
Mix all of the above ingredients together until you have a nice mass of dough. Then let the dough rest (autolyse) for 15 minutes. After autolyse is over, stir in:
• .6 oz/17g salt (stir in well before adding the rest of the flour)
• 10 oz/283g bread flour
• (it can be fun to add a pinch of garlic powder or granulated garlic to the dough - ¼ teaspoon should be enough)
This will make 3 lbs 2 oz /1420g of dough at 65% hydration.
Knead all ingredients together for two or three minutes and then allow the dough to ferment in a covered container at room temperature for six hours. During the six hour ferment time, fold the dough four or five times to strengthen the gluten.
Peter has a good video on youtube.com on how to fold dough. Once the six hours is done, divide your dough into two pieces (weighing about 1.5 lbs each). Shape into rounds and spray with oil, cover and let set for 20 minutes.
Roll/stretch out your dough into a large pizza round, 14 – 16 inches and set the dough on top of a baking parchment paper to proof. Let the dough proof for 1.5 hours. Then top with your preferred toppings and slide pizza onto a very hot preheated baking stone at around 500 degrees for 10-15 minutes with 12 minutes being average.
The oven/stone is not as heated as hot as usual due to the milk in the dough which adds color and lightness to the dough but will make the dough burn a little easier as well. Make sure your stone is up about 1/3 of the distance of your oven from the bottom.
Tony Gemignani's Original Tomato Pie w/Cheese
How do you celebrate, or explore a new ingredient you are looking to use? If your ingredient is a can of Bianco DiNapoli Organic Tomatoes you got your hands on, you don't need to look too much further than Tony Gemignani's Orginal Tomato Pie with Cheese. I remembered this pizza and thought it would be the perfect platform for these tomatoes to shine. I was on a tomato quest after all. This pizza is simply a celebration of the tomato. Tony's Pizzeria Napoletana even offers a limited number of pies per day be made with the Bianco DiNapoli tomatoes for an additional charge. It's worth it!
Tony has a couple versions of this pizza: The Original Tomato Pie, Original Tomato Pie with Cheese, and Jersey's Original Tomato Pie. The basic concept is Tomato - hand crushed tomatoes spread on the dough. It is finished with a little pinched italian sausage, fresh oregano, olive oil and sea salt. The Jersey version uses sliced mozzarella and adds some parmigiano as well. They all deliver tomatoes to you on a platter, or pizza crust. Delicious!
I mention this in some of my other recipes from this day, but it is worth repeating. My son was eating one of the pizzas I had been making that day. For all of the pizzas I was making, I was only using these tomatoes hand crushed - nothing added. He sat at the table as I made this pizza and out of nowhere he said, "Dad. Great sauce!" He had no idea what I was doing. The sauce stood out that much. That's impressive.
You can see that for this pizza, I used a lot of sauce. I wanted the tomatoes to melt into the cheese base, but not loose their juicy tomatoey-ness after baking in my oven for 8-10 minutes. It came out just right. Because the tomatoes were hand crushed, they still had some thickness, which was nice to bite into as they held their moisture. You sort of got explosions of tomato flavor in every bite. The sauce in this pizza - the way you lay it out and top it - becomes the key note of the whole thing. With a little mozzarella underneath, you still get that cheese fix, which I think helps set the tomatoes up for your enjoyment even more. And, with a little spicy italian sausage you have the perfect accent for enjoying the tomato pie.
Tony Gemignani's Original Tomato Pie with Cheese:
*I was using a Central Mills Germania Flour Dough (any dough will work)
Bianco DiNapoli Organic Tomatoes
Pinched Italian Sausage
Sprinkle a little mozzarella on the dough.
You don't want this pizza to be about the cheese. It's there on the bottom layer for a reason. It's performing a supporting role.
Add a good amount of your hand crushed tomatoes.
*Note: I didn't add anything to the tomatoes, just some fingers and some squeezing. You want enough tomatoes to make sure it stays moist after cooking for 8-10 minutes.
Pinched Italian Sausage
The pinching creates a thin piece of sausage that will fully cook in the oven. Since I'm making this at home and my oven only hits 550 degrees, I saute my sausage first leaving it a little pink in the middle so it will finish in the oven.
I put a little oregano on prior to cooking the pizza and then more after - just so I could get a little cooked into the sauce and then some fresh leaves as a finishing accent after.
After snapping a few pictures, the pizza went into the oven.
Give it about 8-10 minutes and out she comes.
I drizzled a little olive oil and dropped a little more fresh oregano on top and got this one to the table, where the family was waiting in line (behind Owen, who had by now identified a new favorite sauce and was using his muscle to make sure he was first in line). I didn't add any sea salt and found that it was perfect without it.
This is a great pizza. Thanks Tony!
Cold Fermented Natural Levain Dough
For those of you who like to bake with sourdough, I have a pizza crust that you will find intriguing. It is handy to use dough which is already fermenting in your refrigerator, and to whip up a pizza for dinner. Big Bear’s Bread (BBB) is such dough. It is a popular, long fermented type of sourdough bread and is a good choice for pizza dough. The formula for BBB is enough for two large loaves of bread or several large pizzas (about four pounds total). The dough is made up and then ferments in the refrigerator for several days. This past week I had a batch of it going and baked up a loaf of bread. It makes a really nice loaf of bread; the dough is higher hydration dough than standard bread and produces a moist open crumb. Since I only baked up one loaf, I had plenty of dough left and decided to make up a pizza for dinner to see how the dough performed for pizza. It performed really well. The crust came out chewy with an open holey crumb. You can find the formula and technique for Big Bear’s Bread here: http://www.northwestsourdough.com/discover/?p=1870
To get the dough ready for pizza, take it out three to four hours before baking time. I had the dough made up into a round while it was under refrigeration. I took out the round and pulled it out somewhat flat so it could warm up to room temperature more easily. After an hour I pulled the dough out into a large round, about 16” in diameter ( I have a large pizza peel).
You can easily make two or even four smaller pizzas with this amount of dough (about two pounds of dough). Once you finish pulling out the dough, the gluten is somewhat tightened so you need to place the dough onto a baking parchment paper or some foil at this time. If you wait to move your dough until later, it will relax and, being high hydration dough, it will be very hard to move. Spray your dough with oil, cover with some plastic wrap and allow it to set for two to three more hours. It will not look very bubbly, but cold fermented dough is like that and will surprise you once it comes into contact with the intense heat of the baking stone. When your dough is ready and your oven/baking stone are preheated for an hour as high as it will go (550F for my oven), spread on your sauce and toppings ( I used basil sauce, chicken, mushrooms and mozzarella cheese) and then using your pizza peel, transfer the pizza to the hot baking stone. Bake until done about 10 – 12 minutes.
For dough that is cold fermented, using a similar technique Peter Reinhart made famous with his Pain a la ‘Ancienne bread (Bread Baker’s Apprentice), the Co2 is absorbed into the cell structure of the dough and does not always show large bubbles in the dough while it is rising. However, once the dough is subjected to intense heat, the Co2 is liberated and forms many bubbles as it expands. So don’t be surprised if your dough, which can seem a bit inactive, looks great once it exits the oven. This long fermented dough probably isn’t practical for many folks, but for those that like to have fermenting natural levain dough setting around in their refrigerator anyway, it is a versatile way of using up the extra bread dough. I would recommend adding an ounce of oil to the formula if you know you are going to use it for pizza dough.
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