craig and i were talking cured meats at work a couple of weeks back.
there’s this little, family owned salumeria, in east van, called moccia’s.
they cure their own salamis in small batches, using only local, pasture-raised pork.
craig told me these meats were going to take my pizzas to a whole new level.
naturally, i had to try.
i chose the piccante, a slightly spicy sopressa, and toscano, spiced with cinnamon and clove.
with meats in hand, i needed some dough for the soon-to-be-elevated pizzas.
the inspiration for another post is born.
i’ve always used a recipe from ‘bread: a baker’s book of techniques’, but never spent the time to make the biga beforehand.
the dough has always been superior to anything premade from the grocery store, and superior still to the majority of pizza joints in town.
but it lacked a little character.
with a day off today to dedicate to pizza making, last night i threw together the biga.
500g bread flour
.2g instant dry yeast
i wasn’t completely sure how old the yeast was, so i was pleasantly surprised when i woke up this morning and stumbled into the kitchen to see that my dough had started climbing out of the bowl.
no sense in wasting any time, so i filled the mixer with the remaining flour, water and yeast along with some salt and olive oil, and got to work.
i don’t like mixing this dough excessively, instead preferring to just mix enough to combine the ingredients, and letting nature do it’s thing.
i read an article a few years ago about a baker in new york – jim leahy.
he was advocating a new process for making bread at home.
it seems as though gluten will develop on it’s own in the presence of enough water.
my pizza dough recipe is relatively sticky, with hydration approaching 70% (68% to be exact), making it an ideal candidate for the no-knead method.
while the process is much slower than regular mixing and dough development, the minimal working results in a much more elastic dough.
any sort of planetary-type mixer (kitchenaid, et al.) isn’t going to be very effective at developing gluten anyways, overheating and oxidizing the dough at the cost of flavor.
all of this, and i’m lazy. i don’t want to knead my dough.
just ensure the ingredients are evenly combined, cover and let it rest for 20 minutes.
come back and you’ll already start to see the development of the gluten.
give it a couple of turns to make full certain that the ingredients are evenly distributed, then another 10-15 minutes of rest.
a final few turns, then it’s into a liberally greased bowl for bulk fermentation.
2kg bread flour
13g instant dry yeast
125g olive oil
800g biga (the whole recipe from above)
i know, this makes a LOT of dough.
but, as far as i’m concerned, i’d rather do this once, and make a lot.
after a couple of hours of bulk fermentation, with a good knock down part way through, the dough gets scaled (i do 6oz portions) and shaped round.
at this point i wrap the majority in saran wrap for freezing, with the rest going onto a well-oiled tray in the fridge for a little further flavour development.
i decided to try a new technique that i read about here – par-baking the crusts for quicker pizzas later.
no need to defrost a ball of dough, or even mess up the counters with flouring for stretching.
cover with toppings, a few more minutes in a nice hot oven, and pizza.
i stretched the dough out nice and thin…it’s so elastic there’s really no need for a rolling pin.
20 minutes of proofing as the oven heated to 500F, followed by a dusting of semolina on the peel, and the crusts are ready to bake.
they don’t take long, maybe 4-5 minutes, but make sure you poke any bubbles as they form to make sure they don’t crisp up.
this ensures a relatively even surface for toppings.
onto a cooling rack, and we’re almost ready for dinner.
tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and that moccia salami.
back into the 500F oven until the salami just starts to curl – only another 4-5 minutes.
make sure you let it sit for a minute or two before cutting, just to let the cheese set a bit.
while it may seem like a lot of work, this process resulted in a light, crisp crust.
par-baking without toppings ensures the bottom of the pizza stays crisp.
baking in one step has always resulted in a floppy point to the slices, but this pizza held firm.
do the work once, and you’re set for future pizza nights.
the perfect solution for a quick and easy dinner.