Gourmet Pizza for You

  • Thread starter Les Sleeth
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Les Sleeth
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Main Question or Discussion Point

Have you ever wondered why the pizzas you attempt at home never taste anything like the pizza at your favorite pizzeria? And that’s even after you religiously follow the recipes of cooking shows, cook books, online recommendations . . .

The reason pizza recipes don’t work at home is because the ingredients are a relatively small part of the secret. Much more important is how to make the ingredients manifest their full potential and work together.

Pizza dough is by far the most difficult to master. The best pizza makers have learned from the centuries of expertise developed by bread makers.

Without guidance, few laypersons would guess how the complex sugars in flour are made available for what yeast needs to function, how water helps develop gluten, the role of oxygenation and enzymes, how refrigeration helps, what salt or oil does to gluten, the use of preferments, length of knead time versus hydration levels, methods of fermentation, proofing dough, proper stretching, why the best pizzas are baked at 850-900°, why a pizza stone is important . . . all of which (and more) are crucial to obtaining the kind of crust one desires. And then there’s sauce know-how, cheese selection . . .

Since cooking success is ultimately the artistic application of chemistry and physics, so I was thinking there might be some chefs or chefs-of-the-future around here who might be interested in applying their technical skills to making gourmet pizzas.

Here’s a website where individuals have dedicated themselves to figuring out home pizza making, using (for the most part) home equipment. www.pizzamaking.com If you stick with it, you can learn most of the pizza secrets from the great threads there, and by taking advantage of the site’s moderator who seems to have endless patience helping people learn. All types are explored which include the styles of New York, Chicago, California, American, Neapolitan, Sicilian, focaccia, thick, and cracker crust.

In terms of my cooking, I am stronger on the artistic side than the technical side, so the months of research at the pizza site really helped me learn enough to achieve my own vision of a pizza – a naturally sweet, fresh tomato, light and airy crust type. I just published the recipe and techniques (complete with pictures and informative links) for all my friends who keep asking me to teach them, but maybe a few potential pizza-loving cooks around here might find it interesting too:
http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,1931.0.html

If anyone tries it out, I’d love to hear your results. In any case, the site is a treasure for frustrated pizza cooks. :tongue2:
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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MMMMMM ... pizza ... Doh :biggrin:
 
  • #3
arildno
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My self-criticality is at its minimum when eating a pizza of my own making, so I can't relate to this topic.

My pizzas are yummy good.
 
  • #4
Evo
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Lutefisk pizza. :bugeye:
 
  • #5
i remember eating pizza once. the next day i got diahorrea!:surprised :biggrin:
never touched it since then!
 
  • #6
arildno
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Evo said:
Lutefisk
Not on my pizza. Lutefisk is disgusting.
 
  • #7
Les Sleeth
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arildno said:
My self-criticality is at its minimum when eating a pizza of my own making, so I can't relate to this topic.

My pizzas are yummy good.
Good point. I thought I was an expert for years, but I compensated for my amatuer dough skills with toppings (not that you are doing that). The dough is the tough thing to do like the experts. VERY complex. (What is lutefisk?)
 
  • #8
arildno
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Les Sleeth said:
(What is lutefisk?)
Cod soaked in lye..bon appetit!
 
  • #9
Evo
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Les Sleeth said:
(What is lutefisk?)
Fish soaked in lye until it bloats. It can double as paint stripper, just lay some near the object you want to remove the paint from, run away, and in a couple of hours, the paint will be blistered and ready to peel off. :tongue:
 
  • #10
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Why would someone do that to a fish?
 
  • #11
arildno
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hypatia said:
Why would someone do that to a fish?
Especially to a cod. My very essence shrinks at the thought..
 
  • #12
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Having raised only boys, I understand :blushing:
 
  • #13
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We make our own pizzas (of course) and the best topping (IMO) is carmelized onion (replaces tomato sauce and the other toppings go on top.) You start with about a half dozen medium onions and saute the snot out of 'em for like an hour in a huge quanitity of yummy butter..... It all gets gooey and sweet --

Too intense for every time you make pizza but something you rarely find at the pizza joints and fun.

We used to joke that you can make any food item into a pizza topping. We found this to be true until the fateful day we made Pez pizza.
 
  • #14
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I am not a baker, and I have come to accept this fact. But the pizza place near me is just plain bad.
But, I am working on a plan. There is a lady on my block who is a bakeing fool, if I can get her to make the dough..and I make the sauce..hmmmm.
The onion sounds great Patty, i'd even try that on my english muffin pizza!
 
  • #15
Moonbear
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Ooooooh, I'm going to be spending some time at that site. Homemade pizza dough has eluded me so far. I get stuff that's about as good as the crappy pizza sold by chains in the midwest, but have never succeeded in achieving anything even remotely resembling NYC style pizza. I make a great sauce, but the dough is always just so lacking (it's either too flavorless or just the wrong flavor for pizza...some have been quite tasty, but just not the flavor I'm craving).
 
  • #16
Tom Mattson
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hypatia said:
Why would someone do that to a fish?
Why would someone do that his stomach? :yuck:

Even worse, why would anyone do that to Pizza, aka Nature's Most Perfect Food? :tongue2:
 
  • #17
Les Sleeth
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Moonbear said:
Ooooooh, I'm going to be spending some time at that site. Homemade pizza dough has eluded me so far. I get stuff that's about as good as the crappy pizza sold by chains in the midwest, but have never succeeded in achieving anything even remotely resembling NYC style pizza. I make a great sauce, but the dough is always just so lacking (it's either too flavorless or just the wrong flavor for pizza...some have been quite tasty, but just not the flavor I'm craving).
You are right about the importance of dough. If you've ever read or watched a special the world's best (and first) pizza makers in Naples (Neapolitan style), the entire article or show is about the dough. The cheese and tomatoes or sauce are treated like afterthoughts.

If you want to see how passionate Neapolitan pizzaiolos are, check out this hilarious article from someone outraged over an article published in Cook's magazine offering a "neo-" Neapololitan style.

http://www.theartisan.net/faux_pas_the_seventh.htm

I've been making pizzas for years for my many friends at my racquetball club, and have managed to keep them asking for more with the skill of toppings/sauce alone. But since I've figured out the dough, people actually line up to ask me if they can be on the list for that night to get some (i.e., since I can't make it for everyone). The best compliment has been a locally successful retired French chef who wanted me to teach him how to make the dough. If you get the dough right it is hard to make a bad pizza.

In the recipe I published, besides wanting to plug that site for the great help they've given me there, I wanted to write the instructions in detail for my clingly friends :wink: and people who aren't that familiar with dough techniques. I know there are so many ways screw it up it really helps to have every little step explained.

Let me know how things go, or if I can help.
 
  • #18
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What is the best sauce to use?
 
  • #19
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Les Sleeth said:
You are right about the importance of dough. If you've ever read or watched a special the world's best (and first) pizza makers in Naples (Neapolitan style), the entire article or show is about the dough. The cheese and tomatoes or sauce are treated like afterthoughts.

If you want to see how passionate Neapolitan pizzaiolos are, check out this hilarious article from someone outraged over an article published in Cook's magazine offering a "neo-" Neapololitan style.

http://www.theartisan.net/faux_pas_the_seventh.htm

I've been making pizzas for years for my many friends at my racquetball club, and have managed to keep them asking for more with the skill of toppings/sauce alone. But since I've figured out the dough, people actually line up to ask me if they can be on the list for that night to get some (i.e., since I can't make it for everyone). The best compliment has been a locally successful retired French chef who wanted me to teach him how to make the dough. If you get the dough right it is hard to make a bad pizza.

In the recipe I published, besides wanting to plug that site for the great help they've given me there, I wanted to write the instructions in detail for my clingly friends :wink: and people who aren't that familiar with dough techniques. I know there are so many ways screw it up it really helps to have every little step explained.

Let me know how things go, or if I can help.
I've had pizza in Naples before and it's not that great IMO. You can't even pick it up and stuff it in your mouth. They give you silverware to eat it. Sure, the dough was tasty and the sauce was delicious, but how can I be a true United Statesian without shoveling pizza into my mouth with my hands. I'm much more satisfied with our local pizzas, especially Chicago Deep Dish, and American style Greek pizza.
 
  • #20
Les Sleeth
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Huckleberry said:
I've had pizza in Naples before and it's not that great IMO. You can't even pick it up and stuff it in your mouth. They give you silverware to eat it. Sure, the dough was tasty and the sauce was delicious, but how can I be a true United Statesian without shoveling pizza into my mouth with my hands. I'm much more satisfied with our local pizzas, especially Chicago Deep Dish, and American style Greek pizza.
LOL. I agree . . . they are snobs about it, and I suppose if you grew up with it you would like that better. I don't care foar the "fresh" mozzarella cheese because it makes the pizza wet, even when I squeeze out all the moisture I can, and the flavor isn't as concentrated as in drier cheese. Even their dough isn't my favorite, I prefer it chewy and with lots of air in it instead of the pastry-like character. But still, if you try to make the Neapolitan dough, you will find it takes a lot of skill.
 
  • #21
Les Sleeth
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moose said:
What is the best sauce to use?
I think the grape tomatoes hold a lot of promise for getting ripe tomato flavor on your pizza. If you didn't see it, there is a recipe for that in the second part of my thread. But when I run out, I will buy a box of Parmalat Pomi chopped tomatoes, strain off some of the puree and cook a couple of minced garlic cloves in that puree (you can also saute, it's just I like relatively oil-free sauce); when the garlic is soft, add some of the chopped tomatoes to it, add fresh oregano, salt, a dash of ground anise seed, and a little dried basil and then top your cheese with that. Very simple. If you have fresh vine-ripened tomatoes, blanch them and do the same thing.
 

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