The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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sortachef's picture
sortachef

Ten Tips for Better Pizza

 


We make pizza nearly every week here at Chez Bullhog. When you have an outdoor pizza oven, it's hard not to: pizza has become an obsession. But, even without using the special oven, we've gotten pretty good at turning out a quality pizza. Here are some tips:


 


For half the flour in the dough, substitute Caputo flour. This flour (tipo 00), made by Antico Molino Caputo in Italy, is formulated to let pizza dough stretch out. Using it in a recipe will keep your shaped dough from springing back from the rim when you flatten it. Available in Seattle at Pacific Food Importers, or through several sites online.


Cut the yeast by 1/3, and let the dough rise longer. Many dough recipes have more yeast than necessary in order to decrease the proofing time. If you're not in a hurry, let your dough rise at 70º (or even cooler) for at least 4 hours. Pizza aficionados let their dough rise in the fridge overnight, and then let it sit at room temperature for a few hours before shaping and baking. See 'Pizza time Pizza with long-rise dough' for details.


Drizzle olive oil onto the blank pizza. Joe Fugere, owner of Tutta Bella in Seattle, told me that when his original restaurant was certified by the Neapolitans, he had to omit this step. I never put olive oil into the dough, but I find that a thin coating of good olive oil enhances the flavor and keeps the crust from getting soggy during baking.


Use vine-ripened tomatoes and make your own sauce. The best and sweetest tomatoes are vine ripened. When our tomatoes are ripe, we don't bother making sauce, we just slice them onto the pizzas. Otherwise, we make a sauce with ripe tomatoes, a bit of onion and garlic, and freeze or can it. Second best is a big can of San Marzano tomatoes turned into sauce. When making sauce from canned tomatoes, use a bit of sugar to brighten its flavor.


Seek out quality toppings. The best toppings make the best pizzas, and in many cases less is better. A little prosciutto, a few good olives, herbed mushrooms dotted here and there. Locally made sausage, some fresh arugula - well, you get the picture.


Try different cheeses. This can make such a difference to your pizza and, again, you don't need massive quantities. Some suggestions: well-drained buffalo mozzarella, truffle-infused pecorino, gruyere, cacciocavallo, or fresh mozzarella. You can top the whole thing with a handful of shredded mozzarella if you like.


Balance salty with savory or sweet. All of the components of pizza already have salt in them, so you can easily overdo it with salty toppings. On the other hand, a fresh Margherita pizza (fresh mozzarella, fresh tomatoes and basil) needs capers or a generous sprinkle of salt to balance it.


Learn to use a peel. There's a reason they use peels (wooden or metal paddles) in pizza places. A wooden peel gets a pizza into the oven safely; a metal one turns it halfway through baking and pulls it out when it's ready. While you can get the pizza out of the oven with a spatula or two, I'd recommend that anyone who wants to bake better pizza invest in a wooden peel. When the peel is topped with bread flour or semolina, your pizza will slide right off it and into the oven!


Make your oven hotter. My outdoor oven is at about 650º when we bake pizzas in it, and will turn out a pizza in 4 minutes. Admittedly, most ovens don't get that hot, but will go to 450º or more. At 450º, a 12-inch pizza bakes in 8 or 9 minutes.


Bake the pizza directly on a pizza stone or quarry tiles. I've saved the best for last. This simple addition to the center rack of your oven, even if you're baking your pizza in a pan, will instantly yield better pizza. Be sure to preheat your oven for a half hour before baking for best results. See 'Baking bread on Quarry Tiles' for more information on using quarry tiles.


 


One Final Note: Even as recently as last year, I would have included longer kneading on this list. Italians recommend 20 minutes of kneading the dough, which many Americans find excessive. As I play with some aspects of this, the list may evolve to include a 30 minute rest period - after mixing, but before kneading - which I am learning is nearly as critical for gluten development as the kneading itself. Stay tuned!


 


See original content for this and other bread and pizza recipes (woodfired and conventional methods) at www.woodfiredkitchen.com


 


Copyright © 2010 by Don Hogeland

ZD's picture
ZD

Miche

 


This weekends fun.


Home Bolted High Extration Hard Red Spring Wheat Miche



 



1050g Flour
578g Water
525g Leaven 100% hydration
26g Salt


Mix ingredients. Stir until there are no more dry spots. Autolyse for 60 minutes.


Fold  wait 30 minutes fold again. Bulk proof until almost double. Shape and proof


until just right. Preheat oven and stone to 500°F. Turn down to 450°F and steam


for 15 minutes. Turn down to 350°F and bake for 45 minutes. Let cool and enjoy.


Greg


 edit typo

jpolchowski's picture
jpolchowski

Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread?

Hi folks. I have been on a quest to find a 100% whole wheat sourdough sandwich bread and I've had some troubles, I'm not sure if that is even a possibility. I have made whole wheat bread for a long time but recently began switching to 100% whole-wheat (except for a bread flour starter) for the health benefits, but I get pretty much no oven spring and so always end up with wide, short loaves. I have wanted to convert to a whole-wheat starter as well but given my current troubles, I'm not sure if that will happen.


The recipe I currently use is:


Levain:


18 oz starter


5 oz whole wheat flour


Dough:


23 oz Levain


26 oz whole-wheat flour


16 fl/oz water


1.5 oz dry milk powder


0.75 oz salt


 


The bread is good and I enjoy it but I'm looking for a taller, lighter loaf but not sure if that's possible with that recipe. Using whole wheat flour I know that it tends to be dense as opposed to light. On my last loaf I tried using autolyze which I think did improve the crumb-it was less crumbly, but didn't help rise at all. I haven't tried vital wheat gluten yet since it's pricey but I think that is going to be my next step. One concern I have is that my starter may be weak. It doesn't bubble a lot when I feed it, but when I bake I get plenty of rise during fermentation and proofing, so I'm not sure about that. Am I going to have to compromise, going back to a 50% whole wheat perhaps, or would vital wheat gluten or other alterations make significant changes?


On a side note, are there any recommendations for softer crust as well? It might just be the nature of it being sourdough since I have to bake at a high temp-I generally bake at 400F for about 35 minutes. I spray the loaves with water during proofing and then right before baking. I tried a milk wash once before but that didn't change anything, but I may give it a try again.


 


Thanks for all your help!

copyu's picture
copyu

Can you really tell bleached from unbleached flour?

Hi all,


I hope this topic hasn't been 'done to death' already, but I was wondering...Can any of you guys actually see (or taste? or feel?) a difference between bleached and unbleached wheat flours? My search of this topic on TFL yielded lots of cries for help that usually start: "My recipe calls for unbleached APF, but..." and the usual responses are to visit KAF online.


SOME BACKGROUND: I live in Japan and, last Xmas, I went to Australia, where I picked up a lot of groceries that are either completely unobtainable [or 'almost unobtainable'] here and shipped the stuff back to Japan. My 'stash' included 1kg of 'organic unbleached plain flour'. To be quite honest, I can't tell, by looking at it, that it's any different from the usual "Nisshin" brand of plain/regular flour that every supermarket sells here. We also have a 'specialty' baking store that sells a huge variety of goods, with a slant towards home bread-baking. However, I can't tell any difference in color among their flours—or between them and the regular flours that I can buy in the supermarket. I can't see any difference, either, between the specialty flours and the Aussie unbleached. Recently, a very good flour called "Kobe Flour" with 11.8% 'gluten' has appeared on supermarket shelves at a very good price—for me, that's a good 'bread flour'. I've been told (by a University Professor, who is also a home-baker and actually teaches baking techniques as a volunteer) that you can't get unbleached flour here. [I later found out she wasn't 100% correct—it's for sale online at about US$5 per pound from the "Foreign Buyers' Club" Japanese website.]


So, I'm wondering—what is all the fuss about? Japan has virtually the same rules as the EU for imported flours. Top of the list: NO BROMATED FLOUR is allowed to be imported. I don't know what bleaching, if any, IS permitted, however. Is it *just possible* that all of the US / Canadian flour we buy here is just your regular, non-organic, unbleached flour? If there's a visible difference, would someone please let me know what I'm missing? Thank you!


 

RiverWalker's picture
RiverWalker

Fleischmann's "Instant Dry Yeast"

so my fiancee's dad does a little baking, and got a really good deal on some yeast at sam's,(like, two pounds for under 5 bucks) but way more than he can use(since he doesn't bake bread all that much) so he gave me some. great! I figure it'll be a clear bag of basic, run of the mill active dry yeast.  no problem.


instead I get a vacum packed 1lb brick of "Instant Dry Yeast".  now this is good, isn't it? I mean its the stuff that the books seem to prefer, not the weird single rise stuff or whatever, right?


the ingredients listed are "yeast, sorbitan monostearate, ascorbic acid".


if it is the regular stuff (Fleischmann's equivalent of the "SAF Red" that everyone seems to love) then thats extra awesome, just slightly concerned that theres a good REASON it was so cheap, aside from being at sams club. 

proth5's picture
proth5

Open letter to "my teacher"

I always thought that you were logging in to these pages and today in a confluence of our two time zones and personal schedules, it was confirmed.


You never seem to post here, but I am sure that many people would love to hear from you.


You are not the person who taught me to bake.  I had been home baking for many years before I knew who you were.  But you were the person who brought all of that baking into focus; who taught me how to learn to learn this craft.  (Just too bad how old I was at the time... jeez...)


You did not teach me everything I know.  According to your own words, you will be glad to hear this. But you have inspired much of that learning.  A casual word tossed my way (probably just to get me stop asking endless questions) led to months and months of reading about milling techniques - countless hours of milling and observing - and when all is said and done, some pretty unusual results.


You said something to me once that implied that I might not have been proud to have learned from you.  I don't know why you would think that (probably as a result of my not "naming names"), but I am.  On these pages I name you only as "my teacher" so as not to add your credibility to my own. "Her baking teacher," the reader might think, "well, that proth5 is still crazy." I can be disregarded.  That is how it should be.  Of course, this being the internet - you could have said "Me - that's me..." at any time.


So, here I will thank you for all the unwitting inspiration you threw my way. Thanks for having the (limited) patience will all my questions.  Thanks for teaching me the "not fun" technical stuff.  Thanks for the great quips and quotes.  If you haven't seen me around, it is not only because of the stupendous effort it takes for me to travel to your location, but because you gave me the very best piece of advice - which is that I need to go and do the baking.  That's where I spent my "non working" time in the past year.  You might have read about it on these pages.  However, if you know how to make those lovely loaves with the parquet like crust that I posted a while back, you could do me a big favor and explain it to me.  It would save me a lot of experimenting.  Really.  It would help me out a lot.


I hope you are having a good time at Europain.  Trust me, I would be there (oh, any excuse will do for a trip to Paris...) except for the fact that I am on an island on a whole other ocean.


Je vous prie d'accepter l'expression de mes  sentiments distingués.


"your student"

inlovewbread's picture
inlovewbread

Steamed Bread Chemistry ?

I steamed my first chinese bean paste buns yesterday (boy were they good!) and was struck by the difference in taste and texture of the steamed bread. I wondered what was going on chemistry-wise with the starches, sugars, etc. I know there is an explanation out there for what happens when dough is steam cooked rather than baked. I have the basic bread chemistry down on baked bread, but would like to know about steamed. It still has oven spring, but is quite different in texture (chewy, more dense, starchier?) and does not appear to brown if at all. No Maillard reaction? Also it seems that most steamed breads are enriched. What would happen if a lean dough was steam cooked? (I'm saying steam "cooked" to differentiate from bread that is steamed for the first part of baking, i.e. baguettes).


Does anyone know? Dan DiMuzio, Steve B, Debra Wink perhaps?


Some other questions:


I know of Boston Brown Bread and other similar recipes that can be steam cooked all the way through in a steamer, in cans in a dutch oven or crockpot, et. But are is there any precedence for a bread that is steamed and then baked to add a crust? Would there be any taste, texture benefit to doing so?


I appreciate any interesting scientific insights, personal experiences, historical anecdotes, etc. :-) 


Thanks!

JohnMich's picture
JohnMich

Croissants - a video demonstration.

Hi all! I'm new here and hope I can make a contribution. The ABC, the Australian Government owned TV (and radio) network has a new cooking show Poh's Kitchen and the first episode included a video demonstration by a very well-known French pastry chef on how to make croissants.


The video (no. 1 - the 10 February episode) should be available from the page you get when you click on http://tinyurl.com/yfl2meo  Goodluck!


Regards, John


 

Shauna Lorae's picture
Shauna Lorae

Island Banana Bread

I had three very ripe bananas to use up so I was looking around for a banana bread recipe that did not call for a lot of sugar or butter. I found an amazing looking recipe on King Arthur Flour's website for Banana Pina Colada Muffins (http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/banana-pia-colada-muffins-recipe). These muffins were beautiful; banana batter studded with dried pineapple chunks, topped off with a delightful shredded coconut crown. My only problem was I didn't have any butter so I kept searching until I found a recipe for Island Banana Bread on Vegetarian Times website (http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipes/9044?section=). This one is vegan but I decided to alter it to suit my tastes. The following recipe is a fusion of the two differen recipes into my own very own Island Banana Bread:


Ingredients

2 c. White Whole Wheat Flour


1/4 c. Soy Flour


2 tbsp. Dried Buttermilk Powder


1 tsp. Baking Powder


1 tsp. Baking Soda


1/2 tsp. Sea Salt


1/4 tsp. Nutmeg


1 c. Diced Dried Pineapple (or other dried fruit: dates, apricots, etc.)


1/2 c. Raisin Puree (or prune puree)


1 1/2 c. Mashed Ripe Bananas


1/2 c. Packed Brown Sugar


2 Eggs


1 tsp. Rum


3/4 c. Orange Juice


1/3 c. Shredded Coconut

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350F and prepare a 9x5" loaf pan with canola oil.

2. Combine & set aside: white whole wheat flour, soy flour, dried buttermilk powder, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, and nutmeg.

3. Mash together raisin puree and bananas.

4. Beat in: brown sugar, eggs, rum, and orange juice.

5. Stir in flour mixture all at once, stirring gently to combine.

6. Fold in pineapple.

7. Pour batter into pan and sprinkle with shredded coconut, pressing it down gently into the batter.

8. Bake til knife inserted into the center comes out clean (about an hour).

 

The result was a beautiful banana loaf, laden with sweet bits of tender pineapple and decorated with a toasty coconut crust.

juliesbass's picture
juliesbass

Flat Bread Recipe

I have searched the entire internet (I think) ha ha , I am looking for a recipe for a flat bread , similar to Taco Bell's Gordita bread , I was wondering if anyone here knows where I might find a recipe , or even have one .


Thanks to All !!


Julie

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