The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

A Hello and Pizza Interjection

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TheDrkHorseOne's picture

A Hello and Pizza Interjection

This is my first post here, so I just wanted to introduce myself a little, then get on to my topic.

I'm a hobbyist baker that has tried several recipes with success in most of them. I have an 13 year background in food industry, of which 11 were spent in the pizza business. 3 of which was an ownership role. Great, fun, I must say, and very rewarding and satisfying.

I wanted to comment on 'The Pizza Primer'. I felt that was a well written piece, and I commend the author. The picture shown looked professionally made, and pretty derned yummy to boot! Well done.

What I wanted to add from experience is that we generally made our dough the day before and allowed it a slow proof in the 'fridge to allow it more time for flavor creation. As stated in the piece, it's not necessary, but it will produce a more flavorful crust. We also used a rolling pin to get the pizza to the desired shape, then worked it by hand to achieve the desired dimensions. It's really easy to do if you see it with your eyes, but hard to explain in type, so I'll forego doing that unless someone is really interested in the technique we used. While the dough is key as a base, the sauce can also make or break a pizza. I tend to like a less sweet, more spicy sauce with copious amounts of black pepper, and garlic and onion powder. The obligatory basil and oregano, dried. We used a formula of tomato sauce AND paste to achieve a quality depth of flavor. We also used parmesean in our sauce as a flavor ingredient, but not as a cheese. Our cheeses were mozzerella, provolone, and muenster. A 3/2/half mix is as close as I can remember it. Creamy, flavorful, and just enough stringy.

I'd be happy to help with any questions you good people might have on pizza that are within my experience to answer. 

My successes as a novice bread baker include a three day sour for a rye that I was most proud of, the first loaf from Bernard Clayton's book which is a fantastic recipe, soft pretzels which took a little experimentation and all the results were tasty, but some were ugly, and some very nice biscuits with a gravy recipe that is out of sight.

Failures? Wheat bread which never rose and is my worst, but I'm not knocked off that horse yet. I also had limited success with Girl Scout thin mints, heheh. I used the wrong mint extract, and the chocolate was on your fingers when the cookies were room temp. Not a complete failure, mind you, as I crushed some Altoids to counter the spearmint and each and every one of them were tasty and devoured. Truthfully, nothing is a failure of you learn from it.

I look forward to reading you folks and participating in some interesting discussions.

Well met, all and good health.


browndog's picture

What's the secret secret to pizzzeria sauce? I congratulate myself generally for making pretty fine pizza, no shame clearly, but the sauce never has that certain savory something that most any good pizzeria gives you. And how do you keep the sauce/paste from tasting bitter without adding something sweet? Do you really have a dark horse?

TheDrkHorseOne's picture

Let me just give you our ingredient list. It's been 15 years, so I can't remember the spice measurements, but they're pretty standard and you can play around with them.


We never cooked our sauce, which I've read is done a lot here. We used a 3:1 ratio of pizza sauce to paste. The product came in big red cans with a family crest or something similar on it. Our ingredients were as follows:







Parmesean (this may be the key to your savory Q, we used a lot)

Garlic powder

Onion powder


I found it to be bright and not sweet like some of the chain stores *cough*papa*cough*. I wish I could remember the measurements for you, but this list is a good experimentation starting point. Ours was always in bulk anyway, we used those #10 cans. If I was to try it a home in a smaller batch, I'd use 2 cans tomato sauce (or pizza sause if you can find those red cans) and one of those smaller cans of paste. Try it uncooked and mix it in your food processor, then add spices to taste and whiz up until smooth. We used a huge Hobart for that, as well as dough mixing and I found the processor to be a fine mini version.


And no, no horse, but I do have a fine little black and white cat named One Spot. It's just a name I've used on other boards (sports) and feels familiar.  

T4tigger's picture

Here is the recipe that I use for our Friday night pizza, which is, IMHO, the best durn sauce around  :-)

15 oz.  tomato sauce              1 t chili powder

6 oz. tomato paste                 1/2 t. caraway seed

1 t. WOR sauce                      1/2 t. crushd parsley

1 t. sugar                               1/4 t. oregano

1/4 t. crushed basil

This can be mixed by hand or in a food processor.   Once I threw in a can of mushroom pieces and ran everything through the food one knew the 'shrooms were there, and everyone raved about the pizza!

I also use at least 1 pound of cheese on top of the meat and veggies. 

Trishinomaha's picture

We had P. Reinhart's  Neopolitan pizza last night with Floyd's sauce recipe topped with just a little sweet italian sausage, fresh basil, very thinly sliced red onions from the famer's market and whole milk fresh mozerella - yum yum! This crust is so thin and crisp and we love it. What are some of your favorite toppings? It would also be interesting to try your sauce if you can remember the recipe and tailor it down to the home cook...



TheDrkHorseOne's picture

I'm a fan of hot italian sausage, green pepper, and mushrooms. Other faves include diced tomato and bacon. Sometimes, though, just plain cheese is darn good, heheh.

Our dough had oil in it and it wasn't really crispy, but we'd roll it extra thin for folks that liked that. The rest of it was pretty standard.. flour, salt, sugar, yeast, water. The key, as I said above, was letting it proof in the fridge overnight.

As for the sauce, I went into a bit more detail for the above poster, but sadly can't remember the ratios.

If you folks have more questions, feel free.

bluezebra's picture

best pizza for months now and it actually led me to conquering or I should really say, facing my fear of yeast and sourdough. I succeeded with developing a starter that is doing well, thanks to so many people here who helped me through it, especially Bill Wraith.

browndog beat me to the first question re:sauce! TY browndog! And ty TDHO for answering it so well. I will be using your recommendation for next week's Friday "Pizza Club".

I'm still monkeying around with a good dough recipe. I have the thin crust recipe down. I "think" I have the thick crust/pan pizza dough down as well. But I am still severly messing up my free form Neopolitan style pizza dough. It's too tough and doesn't get the open hole structure I'm looking for. I am pretty sure I'm not erring in the hydration department since my doughs tend toward higher hydration and I'm comfortable dealing with them. I think my problem lies more in the development level of the gluten and it also is in how I shape/proof. I have limited fridge space and can bulk proof but can't shape and fridge proof. No space. Any help would be SOOOOOO appreciated...

I made browndog's Moosewood Greens and Garlic Pizza last nite for Pizza Club (we skipped Friday in favor of Saturday this week) and the topping was so fabulous. I can't wait to eat the leftovers! I made my own bastardized crust out of necessity and desperation last nite. It was ok. Kinda bready and lacking in hole structure... I used

ap flour, whole wheat flour (2tbsp), sd starter for flavor, yeast, salt, olive oil, powdered milk, and diastatic malt powder. I did it for fun to see if the extras bring anything more to the table. Most of the time I make a lean dough about 3 days in advance: flour, water, salt and starter or flour, water, salt and yeast and/or starter. I sometimes use olive oil in the dough as well.

I am thinking that maybe part of my problem is not using bread flour and using all purpose. But theoretically I should be able to succeed in using ap flour.

Sorry for rambling usual.

Welcome again and TIA. The people here are so knowledgeable and talented not to mention helpful and passionate about making awesome baked goods!

TheDrkHorseOne's picture

We always used AP, so I don't feel that's a problem. We used a huge Hobart for mixing our dough. Do you have a food processor? I've read elsewhere that you tend to make it scratch/knead by hand. I've found that my processor is an excellent tiny version of our old Hobart. How we stored the dough overnight was formed on big trays in the walk-in. A way to replicate that would be to form your doughballs and put them in a covered tupperware type container. If you're limited in space, I'd limit the dough recipe to two pizzas, freeze one and store the other overnight. Is that feasible for you?


The sauce. I'd go with 2 16oz cans of sauce to 1 6oz can of paste. I didn't make that clear above. We also used water to thin it a bit, but you can to that to your desired consistency. The dried herbs and spices and parm above can be experimented with. Stick your finger in it and taste, then adjust. Also, once it sits in the fridge for a while, the flavors will meld better. You can adjust further then.


Your pizza club or night sounds fun! We made KFC pizza one eve at the shop. We used the wonderful gravy as the sauce, the chicken pulled off the bone as topping, and covered it in our cheese. Sounds weird, but it was pretty good. You could surprise some folks with that when you're out of ideas some day.  

bluezebra's picture

the restaurant I worked at! *cry* I don't have a stand mixer that has a good dough hook formation. It's an old old model that was dh's mom's and I use it for cakes and liquid batters only. So it's my robot coupe or my hands only. I start the dough in the robot coupe but one of it's frailties is that if it gets some of the slurry under the blade pin, it starts to slip and not have enough hp to move the dough. When that happens I have to work it by hand. I am not so good at that cuz of health issues right now but I did work it about 15 minutes intermittantly last nite.

I have room to make the balls and store them in the fridge, I just don't have room to sheet em and store em. I guess my question is about what do I do with the dough once I shape it? Should I be allowing it to rise? Should I cook it immediately? How does everyone get those gorgeous "ballooned edges" that are so airy? I'm in serious envy of those!

Thanks on the sauce. I have been making uncooked sauce but I've only been using diced tomatoes that I drain then blend with a wand mixer then drain again to get as much liquid off of it as possible. Then I spice it up. I haven't been making it ahead of time though. As I said, I will try using your recipe this week.

We have Pizza Club at our house where I make pizza then we watch Star Trek - Enterprise...and Monk lol. I posted the link where you can read about it if you want. It's very much written from my limited perspective so I would bet you would find soooo many errors with it! So far I have 2 installments of Pizza Club and am writing the 3rd one now about cheeses. My photos suck but am trying to work out getting a new camera...all in good time though.

Thanks again for helping me with this! What do you put in your dough? Is it ap, water, yeast, salt and olive oil?

TheDrkHorseOne's picture

I can only speak from my experience at our shop, but here goes. We'd pull our dough out and set it next to the prep station un-shaped, as in not flat, just a round ball. Sometimes when it was really busy, we'd be pulling it directly from the 'fridge. We'd simply roll it out to order, nearly making it to size, then use our hands to stretch it from underneath. Using knuckles only under the dough, you sort of form your hands in the shape of two O's, like two eyes looking directly at you. Like miming binoculars. Now, the dough is laying over that, and you simply and gently pull your two hands apart. Try it now with no dough, it's an easy movement. Sort of expand each hand under the dough, like you're opening the sides of the binoculars and pull them apart slowly. It stretches the dough's center and leaves the sides a bit thicker. Our crusts, when made like this, had the nice bottom and plump and airy circle around the edges.

I'm anxious to hear how your sauce turns out next week. Make it the day before.

It's wonderful to see another Trek fan here, heheheh. I'm fond of TOS, TNG, DS9 and particularly Voyager, but have yet to watch ENT. I'm waiting to see if they're going to replay it again from the start on Sci-fi and I'll start DVRing it. I actually post weekdays on messageboards on the Voyager side with a Today on Spike thread. Check it out if you get some time.

As far as our dough, it's rather standard and just as you said, but we used an oil other than olive. I'd use olive oil as my oil at home, though. The flavor can't be ignored.

Forgive me but what's 'TIA!'?  

KipperCat's picture

TIA = Thanks in Advance

KipperCat's picture

Hi TDHO, and welcome from another relative newcomer to the forum. 

One of the things I've enjoyed often lately is homemade pizza, and I've been meaning to freeze some sauce in 1 pizza size quantities to make it easier.  I'll use your above post for a starting point for the sauce. 

TheDrkHorseOne's picture

Hello, KipperCat. Good to see another newcomer. My only advice to you is taste it often, and make it your own. It's really quite simple and easy. The rest period in the fridge would kinda help, I think.

Good idea, individual freezing. I wish you luck with it.

browndog's picture

Let me tell you, TDHO, nothing stirs up this crowd like pizza. You couldn't have known what you were letting yourself in for. Thanks for all the advice. An uncooked sauce with a heap of Parmesan--sounds simple and good. Blue Zebra was also recommending an uncooked sauce, looks like that's the way to go. And I love the idea of making it ahead. That probably mellows out the bitterness I notice in canned paste particularly, along with a little sugar.

Gosh, Trekkies! Love Star Trek but haven't seen much since Deep Space Nine. Blue Zebra and I were talking the Doctor over at her blog--are you a Whovian too?

Oh, I think there's a pretty solid cat faction here as well, so welcome One Spot (don't tell me, let me guess...) 

TheDrkHorseOne's picture

I'm going to assume that's Doctor Who and it looks cool, but I've yet to see an episode. I hate to start in the middle.


I can only hope that my sauce gets you closer to the satisfaction you're looking for, browndog.


No, he wasn't named for Spot on TNG. He's got white socks but one of them has a nearly round black spot on it, hence the name.

browndog's picture

Yes, yes, the Doctor! You can rent the whole series if you do Netflix.

The gorgonzola foccacia sounds really good. I think I'd better go shopping.

Cooky's picture

Welcome, TDHO, and thanks for the pizza primerl. It's such a simple dish -- and so easy to screw up.

One of my faves is a non-tomato version from a locall restaurant made with walnuts and gorgonzola cheese. Massively delish. Every time I've tried to recreate it, I'm disappointed. I can't get the base right. I thought it was plain olive oil, but mine ended up either too dry or with a gooey, oily puddle in the middle of the 'za. 

Any thoughts on that?

(Sorry to impose on your generosity, but since you have confessed to some expertise, you're going to get plenty of brain-picking questions on this board. Which is why we love it so much!)


"I am not a cook. But I am sorta cooky."

TheDrkHorseOne's picture

I have zero experience with these toppings, but it sounded so familiar, I checked a few of my cookbooks and found something.

 It's a focaccia with onions, walnuts, and gorgonzola. It's from 'The Little Guides-Pizzas' by Fog City Press. If you're interested, I'll post the base focaccia dough recipe along with ingredients and prep. If you already have a good focaccia recipe, I can just post the ingreds and prep.

I'd be happy to oblige with either, if you'd like.

Cooky's picture

I'd love to see what the book has to say about those toppings. No need to add the focaccia recipe. That bit I have covered.



"I am not a cook. But I am sorta cooky."

TheDrkHorseOne's picture

They used an herb-flavored focaccia for this. Ingredients sans focaccia are as follows:


2 TBS extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 a yellow onion, thinly sliced

3oz/90 g Gorgonzola dolcelatte, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup/1oz/30 g coarsely chopped walnuts


They saute the onion in the olive oil until golden brown and let it cool while the dough is rising. They also mention dimpling the dough vigorously and letting it rise another 20 covered with a towel as the oven heats. Then, it's just a matter of spreading the toppings and cooking 'til golden brown and delicious.

They mention the dolcelatte is sweeter and milder than the piccante. And that it's good with a glass of vino da tavola.

Doesn't seem like I'm giving you any real revelations here, but that's the jist of it.

bluezebra's picture

Reason being is that I swore an oath to my dh to "never again" use gorgonzola on my pizza. Cuz last time I did it, I stunk the house out with dirty feet smell for 2 days. *blush*

Maybe I could send him on a hunting trip? What's in season now? This recipe will get cooked in our house one way or browndog is my witness!!

Two Dogs Brewing's picture
Two Dogs Brewing



On a different note did you have a wood fired pizza oven? I am getting ready to build a 42" Pompeii Dome Pizza Oven. I cant wait to cook my pizza in a wood fired oven outside. Then I can serve my homebrew and I think I will truely be in Pizza and Beer heaven..........mmmmmmmm Beer

TheDrkHorseOne's picture

I'd love to have cooked in a wood-fired oven, but ours was gas with a stone baking surface. For those of you that don't have that luxury, though, you can grill pizza or you can use wood chips in your oven. Just be sure you've got a good ventilation unit, or unplug the smoke detector and open the windows!


Home brewing... I tried that once with no success. I made several cases of vinegar, heheh. I'd love to hear about some of your successes, but this isn't the forum for it, obviously.