Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Making pizza, the New York Times way.

I am, I have to say, a pretty accomplished maker of pizzas. I make my own sauce (using my home-grown herbs, of course). I make my own cipolline in agrodolce, thanks to the fabulous Cooking the Roman Way by David Downie. I roast bell peppers, slice potatoes paper-thin, and generally kick ass in the toppings department. I've even been known to make my own cheese. So it goes without saying that I make my own crust. But I'm woman enough to admit that I don't do it especially well. I've never been satisfied with the texture of the crust, always too much like bread. When I try stretching it out a bit more, thinking maybe a thinner crust will be less dense, it turns out almost like a flatbread pizza, uniformly crunchy. What, oh, what am I doing wrong?

According to Oliver Strand's article in the New York Times, I'm not letting my dough rise enough!
"...most recipes for the home cook specify a three-hour rise at room temperature. That might be enough to let activated yeast produce carbon dioxide that inflates the dough. But the prolonged fermentation of an overnight rise not only develops the dough’s structure, it also enables starches to transform into flavorful sugars. The dough becomes complex and nuanced. It’s a crust you want to eat.

It’s also a crust you want to admire. While a three-hour rise yields a crust that has the pasty pallor of raw flour, the caramelized sugars from an overnight rise give the cornicione, or edge, a color that goes from golden brown to the deep bronze of a ’70s tan."

Are you drooling yet? I am. Don't even get me started on the photos of the radicchio pizza. I can't wait to try this out for myself. It's the perfect project for someone who's recently come into possession of a sourdough starter!

One final plug: If you don't already own Cooking the Roman Way, do yourself a favor and GET IT RIGHT NOW! Seriously.

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