Saturday, January 2, 2010

2010: Year of the Pizza

In the "Peter Zodimack" calendar, the fermentation animal of 2010 will be the pizza.  I was fortunate enough to receive Peter Reinhart's book, American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza, for Christmas from my girlfriend.  She knows me too well.  I tore through the journalistic "The Hunt" section recounting his search for the world's best pizza. Within the reading, I was particularly drawn to the idea of a pizzaiolo, the craft brewer of the pizza world, especially in the case of the most basic/treasured Napoletana-style pizza doughs with simple but rich and complementary toppings. A dedicated overseer and creator of these pizzas from conception to consumption serves the final products well, ensuring a consistent, high quality, and hand-crafted pizza. These kinds of basic pizzas (in a kind of Reinheitsgobot purity law of pizza, Napoletana pizza dough consists of only water, flour, yeast, salt - no enrichments) seem to be most tied to much earlier humans cooking their flatbreads from grown and harvested grains (wheat flour derived over 1,000s of years from basic prairie grasses) over a great technology of the time - fire.  The book includes lots of great dough recipes covering a wide variety of styles, with suggested variations.  I'm also very excited by the various, unique sauces and toppings. 

Starting right off in January, I'll be immersing myself in making pizzas, taking time with several styles of dough.  I want to get good and familiar with each dough, and will see the changes that various variables like flours, yeast doses, time and temperature make on the doughs.  I hope to come out the other side with some winners.  I'll also be getting creative with sauces and toppings, as my pizzas will not contain dairy or meat.  I believe this will make the journey all the more interesting, as many people simply default to cheese on pizza.  I aim to explore an alternative. Great pizza with creative, unique, complementary, balanced toppings.  I am sure it will take, thought, and much practice and experimentation.

The journey starts today.

Here's my basic Napoletana Dough before heading to the fridge for overnight, slow fermentation.

Here's dough #2 for the day, again the Napoletana dough with 1 TBSP stone-ground rye flour addition per cup total flour used:

Now, to pick out a topping to try....

A Pizza alla Marinara con Mozzarella (homemade)


Pizza alla Marinara with sliced Garlic and vegan Parmesan
(before the oven)

After the oven:

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