March 30, 2012

Home Cooking: Pizza

I worked on some pizza lately. I've made pizza at home plenty, I've just never been too fond of what I turn out. See, the secret to great pizza isn't just in the ingredients; the fact of the matter is that you need to cook your pizza hot. Now, 800 and 900 degrees are not temps most home ovens can reach. Unless you get creative (and like to break shit) like this guy, or this guy. I decided to stick with my trusty, non-jailbreak oven at 550 degrees, but I did try out a new dough for my pizza. 
Tartine is a now legendary bakery in San Fransisco. The Tartine method begins with a 5lb mix of white and wheat flour, which you use to develop your natural wild starter.
By using a natural starter, there's no need to add yeast, as you would normally making dough. 
The picture above is the started on day one. It's basically a handful of the 50/50 flour mix with an equal amount of water. This is covered with a towel and left on the counter. Each morning you discard 80% of the starter, and then add another handful of flour and equal parts water. This process is called "feeding your starter.
After several days of feeding, the starter will smell rather funky, like dirty socks, but somewhat sweet like over-ripe fruit, too. It will also bubble as in the picture above.
After a week or so, the started can be used to make a dough. This part of the process is similar any other dough-making process with several periods of resting and rising. The dough is very easy to work with once risen, it requires very little kneading to shape into a pizza.
The pizza was tasty, especially the dough, but I found I still didn't get it exactly as I wanted. The was some nice blistering in spots and firm, crisp bottom, but there was still some spots were the dough stayed moist and dough on top of the pie. It was good, but I'm going to tweak some things for the next round in my quest for it taste as good as Rowdy's (see below):

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