My Pizza D'Oh! (Or, Holey Crumb, Batman!)
My first attempts at baking bread-like objects involved pizza. About a year ago, Brother David made pizza. It was good. I mean, it... was... GOOD!!! I figured I could do that. So I asked a few (too few, I now realize) questions, and he pointed me to the Pizza Primer on TFL, where I found the Reinhart Neo-Napolitano recipe. I followed it (I thought) a few times, and the results were passable (I thought). The crust was thin (I like that) but not crispy and it didn't really get a big holey crumb around the edge. I sorta gave up on homemade pizza for several months.
Now as (both of) you who've been following my novice baker adventures know, I have recently come to realize that I had a defective baking stone. It was advertised as a baking stone. It looked and felt like a baking stone. Only problem was it didn't seem to get really hot. So, after many blond-bottomed breads with little or no oven spring, I've replaced it with one from NYBakers, and I'm making San Joaquin Sourdough this weekend for said Brother David to sample, critique, and hopefully enjoy.
But I couldn't wait for tomorrow to try the new stone in the old oven. And I happen to have Mozzarella, Parmagiana, Sweet Italian Sausage, Pesto, fresh tomatoes and Mushrooms in the house. So I set out on a preliminary test of the stone. I went back to look at the Reinhart recipe, and started to mix it up. It says "1 tsp instant yeast". I slapped by forehead with the heel of my hand (a gesture so common among us d'Oh Boys that we usually have very flat foreheads). Back before I started baking bread, how was I to know that the little yeast packet my wife had in the fridge was not instant yeast? Now I know better. I'd been making the dough with dry active yeast.
So tonight, armed with real instant yeast and my New York baking stone, I made magnificent pizza! Nice air pockets in the crust, big wholey crumb within the crispy rim. So was it the yeast? Was it the stone? Was it my much improved dough handling? I'm not sure I care. It was GOOD! The dough had so much pop, I think it's still expanding <urp!>
Tasha really wants some.
Anyway, it's always a comfort to know I'm not as stupid as I was before (at least in one respect).