Since my last pizza post, I have periodically been experimenting with dough recipes and perfecting my technique. If you search around online you'll notice that there's a lot to learn and to keep up on- as there are currently theories being tested regarding best methods and fermentation processes etc. for home pizza making. This should not be new territory if you have been involved with other types of bread making. The objective I have taken lately is to perfect the simple, to meet the bar in pizza making: the margherita pizza, the essence of Neapolitan pizza making.
I have to admit that the Neapolitan has become quite trendy as of the last couple years. So many pizzerias have sprung up in this time across the US and elsewhere that specialize in this type of pizza. Most recently I visited such a pizzeria in Montréal called Bottega Pizzeria. Montréal is generally lacking when it comes to good pizza, but Bottega is definitely an exception to this. They make a fantastic pie, wood-fired to perfection. Speaking of which, the oven is the largest obstacle for homebakers. Pizza should be baked at least 800F and usually a few hundred degrees higher. So accomplishing this in a home oven which only heats up to 500-600 degrees is certainly a challenge. A month or two ago a friend told me about his experience baking his first pizza from a recipe that he found at Serious Eats. The recipe is not too different than what has been recommended by say Peter Reinhart, yet the fermentation process that it describes is an important step for the homebaker and makes the recipe unique. In short, this means letting the dough slowly rise over the course of 5 days in the refrigerator. In my opinion, the pizza blog at Serious Eats was the most helpful in introducing a method I had not heard of before. Basically the method involves the use of a cast iron skillet and a broiler in a way that mimics the effects of a pizza oven.
It worked fantastically. The idea is to begin by placing the dough on a smoking hot skillet stove top and then to quickly top the pizza while the bottom begins to cook. After topping the pie, you slide the skillet in on the top shelf right under a broiler. This intense heat will allow the dough to bounce and begin to char while melting the cheese. The whole process takes only a couple minutes. After the top is done you can bring the pizza back to the stove top to crisp up the bottom if needed.
I'm very happy and excited about this method. My next task is to buy some higher quality mozzarella and learn how to make the perfect pizza sauce.
Instead of re-writing the recipe and method verbatim you can view them by clicking on the following links: