VDP: Pizza Night

Sunday, June 08, 2008

For quiet some time now, my oven has been heating very badly. It took forever to reach the set temperature, if it did, and it never maintained it. So, finally a few weeks ago I had it looked at and it needed a new ignition thingy (forgot what it was called). It’s a small electrical piece that generates the heat to ignite the gas. To top it all off I finally broke down and bought a proper oven baking stone. I’ve used many things over the years as ‘baking stones’ but they were either bad conductors of heat, heated unevenly or cracked too fast. Those that worked were a bit too damn heavy. I figured I’ve wasted more than $50 on those already, and after research, I decided to go with the FibraMent-D stone.

To inaugurate the newly super-performing oven and my baking stone I baked these wonderful breads from a post or two back. The true test for capabilities of both though was pizza night! A hot oven, very hot oven and a good stone are essential to a thin crust (Neapolitan/NY-style) pizza. So, I blasted the oven to 550F and started baking awesome pizza. The crust was crisp and cooked to perfection with some areas that seem almost burned, but are not. The cheese melted and cooked correctly at the same time as the crust. No soggy crust, no burned cheese.

My go-to pizza dough for this style has been for a while now the recipe from Jeffrey Steingarten’s second book, “It must’ve been something I ate“. It’s a very wet, slow fermenting dough that is retarded in the fridge for 8-24 hours before baking. It makes a wonderful pizza, but needs to be handled quickly and with some care because like I said, it is wet. This is not a dough you can do that flying-pizza trick with. Lots of flour does help with gently stretching it on the peel. For a bit of variety, I added a small amount of whole wheat to the dough this time around.

I hesitated to post this under the VDP because one of those pies is obviously not vegetarian, but the other 3 are so I figured what the heck, just ignore the delicious non-veggie one.

The kids favorite, a three cheese pizza (Parmigiano Reggiano, fresh mozzarella, provolone)

Diana’s favorite, a classic Margarita

One of my special pizzas. I like to think of it as my version of a Pizza Bianca. It is topped with a mix of cream cheese, sour cream and mozzarella. I then top it with home-cured Pancetta bake it. After baking it is sprinkled with toasted fennel seeds, chilli flakes and some fresh basil. Decadent and fantastic.

This is another improvisation of sorts. I had some of the cream cheese mixture left, so I dolloped that on top of the tomato sauce, added the last of the fresh mozzarella and some thinly sliced onions.

One more for good measure. To cap of the meal, I macerated some fresh berries with vanilla sugar and served them with vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Life is good.

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