Wednesday, June 16, 2010

pizza paparazzi

Pepperoni pizza

I made a pizza the other day and liked it enough that I decided to recreate it today, with some photos, so that I could blog about it.  

The idea is basically to direct all the elements of the pizza towards the ideal of a homemade pepperoni pizza -- from the ground up, every part of the pizza is chosen with "hey, this will make a great pepperoni pizza" in mind.


This is my standard crust recipe lately, for four pizzas of the size you see here, or two larger (or thicker-crusted) pizzas: 

3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup semolina.  The one change I made was this time I used a little bit of rye flour instead of some of the semolina.  About 1/8 cup rye, the remainder semolina.

Combine, knead, let rise a little, cover with moist towel, and let sit in the refrigerator for at least a day.

A slow rise in the refrigerator leads to a better-tasting crust -- more flavor develops -- and in many cases seems to make the dough easier to handle (once it's brought back to room temp).


Preheat your oven to 500-550, with a pizza stone or overturned cast-iron pan in the hot oven for at least an hour.

Take a piece of dough out of the fridge, keeping it covered with a damp towel, and let it come up to room temp.  Stretch it out.  Let it rest for 15-20 minutes.  Assemble your mise en place.


I've been obsessed with miso lately.  That'll be a whole nother blog.  It has a crazy umami character that seems to make everything better -- barbecue sauce, rice, Buffalo wings, soup, the other day I even made homemade "Hot Pockets" with ground beef, cheese, and miso in a soft pretzel crust.

This sauce is super-simple: half canned tomatoes (I used San Marzano tomatoes specifically), half roasted peppers, a hefty spoonful of red miso.  Blend it up.  Taste for saltiness -- if it needs to be a little saltier, add a little more miso.  Add a few herbs -- I used pebrella (a wild thyme-like herb) and marjoram -- and a sprinkle of crushed red peppers.

I suspect you could go heavier on the peppers and still have good results, but I happened to be using Spanish piquillo peppers and didn't want to use them up on an experimental pizza.  I think peppadews could also be good, in moderation and in combination with other peppers: the peppadews are lightly pickled, after all, and you don't want a ketchup pizza.


Pull the hot pan out of the oven and work quickly: sprinkle it with cornmeal, drape the dough across it, sauce it, top it.

This is an extra-sauce extra-cheese pizza.  If I weren't using a pizza "stone" (a pan in this case), I absolutely wouldn't use extra cheese, and would go lighter on the sauce.  You want to do everything you can to keep your pizza from needing more than 10-12 minutes to cook (depending on the doneness level you prefer).


The toppings proper are pepperoni and peppadews, both of them torn up (because on the first pizza, the pepperoni rounds kept curling upwards).  I happen to be using Vermont Smoke and Cure pepperoni, which I love, though it is milder than the imported brands I like.

For cheeses, I shredded the leftover hunks of clothbound cheddar, super-aged gouda, and 4 year old cheddar that I had, and mixed that up with shredded dry mozzarella.  The shredded mix is tossed with chopped onion tops (including a blossom).  There's also a careful, moderate amount of locally made fresh mozzarella and some chunks of feta.

Pizza before cooking

If you look at the edges of the pizza, you can see the crust is already cooking.

Get the pizza back in the oven for 8-12 minutes.  Took closer to 12 on this one because of the amount of cheese and sauce.

Pizza after cooking; yes it is sort of like a Florida-less America

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