25 January 2010
My Big Fat Italian Cheat
Today, I cheated on my diet.
Well, if you can schedule a cheat. After all, I decided to cheat last night when I was preparing the dough for today's culinary yumfest.
As a little preface, I have set as one of my life's ambitions the ability to make fantastic homemade pizza. Now knowing as we do, that 99% of the pizza quality is in the crust, I have studied on this a bit and I do a fair bit of experimentation. So just because I was cheating on my diet doesn't mean I wasn't achieving a life goal.
I got today's recipe from this book here. It is my first attempt out of this book. I have limited myself to The Bread Baker's Companion in all my previous experiments. Today, I made the pizzeria-style crust and basic sauce that the author says he prefers.
Sauce ingredients are incredibly basic, paste, pepper, salt, sugar, garlic and oregano. I don't know how the oregano manage to elude having its photo taken. Oh, and the sauce also included 3/4 cup of diced tomatoes that I pureed.
Finished product, you little saucy minx.
I then spread out the dough. It was rather springy and didn't want to maintain the perfectly nice 14" shape that I worked so hard to achieve. Oh, I don't own a pizza peel, so I have to prepare my pizzas on the back of a baking sheet.
Looking good so far. Topping for tonight were pepperoni, onions, red bell pepper, and cheese.
I used this.
Another key thing about making pizza is that you have to have a hot oven. Like really hot. Like 500 degrees hot. Did you know that when you open the door and the oven is heated to 550 degrees that your face is incredibly uncomfortable anywhere in the vicinity of that oven.
Well, kids, I'm here to tell you it's true.
So when the pizza went into the oven, on my nicely preheated pizza stone, it was too damn hot to take pictures, so you are going to have to use your imagination. Only when you picture this in your head, don't picture the part where the pizza crust turns over on one corner and the toppings slide underneath the pizza before we've even begun baking.
Six minutes and a half a spin later, it's back in for it's final approach. Also in your imagination, don't picture how I rotated the top of the pizza into my oven thermometer and there was pepperoni and cheese hanging from a hanging thermometer. Erase, erase, erase that from your memories. Just remember: total time in oven was 10 minutes.
Now this looks pretty good. I have nice air pockets in the crust that I can see. The only problem is that the whole deal rose while in the oven. It's about an inch thick or better at the edges. That's approaching thick-crust pizza territory. Something I hadn't hoped to enter tonight.
And the bottom is a little over done. I'm not sure if that is a product of a too hot pizza stone or something else. Plus, while the crust looks fantastic, there is virtually no brown to the cheese. If you look on the right of this picture, I pinched off one of the bubbles to show this wasn't a cake-like crust, but a nice airy one.
As for taste, I can say this. The pizza tasted pretty good. The crust was too thick. I'm going to thin it out significantly next time I try this. I will NOT be adding 2 tablespoons of sugar to the sauce next time....tomato acidity be damned. The sugar nearly ruined the pizza. The other interesting thing about this pizza was that I couldn't taste the pepperoni. I can't figure that one out. Perhaps I was distracted by the sugar in the sauce. Sometimes one flavor can overpower everything else. For me, though, it's usually salt.
In any event, I had fun making my pizza. I think it looks fantastic. I had planned my calories so I could eat the whole thing, but I was only able to manage half. I guess someone will be enjoying pizza on me at lunch tomorrow.