Amfibius Search for Pizza Perfection

Discussion in 'Geek Recipes' started by Amfibius, May 16, 2009.

  1. Amfibius

    Amfibius Member

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    OK so I have been trying to make the perfect pizza. I have already perfected the pizza sauce, so i'll post that first:

    Amfibius' pizza sauce
    Ingredients:
    - 10 vine ripened tomatos, in season

    Method:
    Sorry, no photos for this one. Might add some tomorrow.

    First, peel the tomatos. Reserve the vines. Bring a pot of water to boil, and get ready an ice bath. Score an X on the bottom of each tomato, then plunge the tomatos into the boiling water. Wait for a minute or until the skin starts to shrivel off, then plunge into the ice bath. The skins should come off easily.

    Halve each tomato and place on a baking tray. Put the tomatos into an oven, preheated to 200C. Cook for 30 minutes.

    Place all the tomatos into a blender and roughly blend. Or put them all into a bowl and smash it with a masher. Allow to cool a bit, then add the reserved vines back to the tomato. Cover with cling film and set aside.

    Amfibius Pizza Dough
    Ingredients:
    - 500gm pizza flour
    - water
    - 20gm fresh yeast (or 5gm dried yeast)
    - 20gm extra virgin olive oil
    - 5gm salt
    - 1 tbsp honey

    This is more of a formula than a recipe. You MUST be precise with the above measurements, and I recommend a digital scale. Mine cost me only $30, and I use it all the time.

    You MUST use pizza flour. The best pizza flour is said to be 12% protein (meaning, 12gm of protein for every 100gm flour) but the best grade I could get was 11% protein. The "Mollini Pizzuti 00" brand sold in coles is only 9.5% protein, and general all purpose flour is 4% protein.

    The CRUCIAL part of the recipe is the ratio of flour to water. Heston Blumenthal recommended 40% water by weight (meaning - for 1000gm of flour, add 400gm water), but some recipes recommend 65% water by weight. For all the batches, I made them with the following method:

    - Add the water to the flour and knead until all the lumps go away (about 4 minutes).
    - Rest the mixture for 15 minutes, to allow the water to wet the flour.
    - Add olive oil, salt, and yeast
    - Knead the dough for 10 minutes
    - Rest for 30 minutes
    - Divide the dough into balls, then rest for 90 minutes until cooking

    To find the best balance, I made 3 batches - 40%, 50%, and 65%. Here are the batches:

    [​IMG]
    L-R: 65%, 50%, 40%

    As you can see, the 65% batch is very runny, almost like a batter. The 50% and 40% versions are more like dough. This is what the dough looks like after it has been stretched a little:

    [​IMG]
    L-R: 65%, 50%, 40%

    The 65% dough looks the same, the 50% dough has some nice elasticity, and the 40% dough tears when stretched.

    To get the dough to a pizza shape, DO NOT USE A ROLLING PIN. Doing so will deflate all the bubbles the yeast has created. Instead, stretch the dough out by hand, using flour to help the dough stretch. To do this, you need to roll the pizza dough into perfect balls before resting. It will double in size.

    The 65% dough is incredibly difficult to work with. It sticks to your fingers and to the board. You have to use flour as a lubricant, and you need a LOT of flour to get it to stretch. To do this, scatter a handful of flour on your work surface then roll the dough ball on the flour. Flatten it with your palm, then add more flour. Start pushing it out to a disc shape.

    Cooking
    I used Heston Blumenthal's method:

    - Preheat your oven using the grill setting to maximum, with the oven door closed.
    - Put a cast iron pan on the gas burner at maximum heat.
    - Make your pizza
    - Invert the pan and place your pizza on the base
    - Insert the pizza into the oven
    - In 2 minutes your pizza will be done

    This is the result:

    [​IMG]

    (Half pizza bianco, half margharita - this was my trial run).

    Result
    The 65% pizza rose the best but the center was still uncooked.

    The 50% pizza did not rise as much, but was perfectly cooked. The crust was not as chewy as the 65% pizza.

    The 40% pizza turned out too dry, and the crust started to burn before the toppings were cooked.

    I think an ideal balance should be 55% water.

    The reason I am doing this is because I have a pizza party tomorrow night. I have cooked pizza for the past 2 nights so that I can get my technique down pat. Will post more photos after the event. Stay tuned!
     
  2. scon

    scon Member

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    Looks good! I'm much less precise with my ingredients. What have I been doing lately... ahhh....

    2 cups flour (I know I shouldn't measure flour in a cup)
    2/3rds cup water
    1 tsp dry yeast
    a splash of olive oil
    and a pinch of salt

    All thrown in the breadmaker on the dough setting. I haven't tried the Heston Method, but In Search of Perfection's a good show, I think I definitely like the show more than the person though, I think he's abit of a knob.

    And for tomato sauce, i use this recipe, from Marcella Hazan's Italian Classics, such a good book.
     
  3. Shaetano

    Shaetano Member

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    The Molini Pizzuti (Farina per Pizza) is 11.2/100. I believe we get it from Fratelli Fresh but don't quote me unfortunately (doesn't help you're in Melb, but there should me more Italian deli's then up here :p).

    Water ratio we usually use is around 50% (250g/120ml) and 15gm fresh yeast.

    Good luck though, the trial run you posted looks fantastic so your guests shouldn't have too much to complain about :D, I'm hoping to fire up the pizza oven this weekend (its so freaken windy though today!)
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2009
  4. mrs dan77

    mrs dan77 Member

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    I don't believe in doing anything precisely - it's too much like hard work!

    In saying that though, I go by feel and get a consistent result. Flours can absorb moisture from the air depending or storage conditions, altitude and there can be a whole range of factors influencing the final result. So I don't think going by feel is particularly remiss of me! It's just what I'm more comfortable with.
    To get a higher protein %, could you add some extra gluten and a small fraction of soy flour? Not in addition to the dry measures you've got, but include them as part of it?
     
  5. scon

    scon Member

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    How did the pizza party go? I'm keen to see the results of the quest!
     
  6. SCorpion2

    SCorpion2 Member

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    i like these pizzas!
     
  7. deadspawn

    deadspawn Member

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    i agree on the whole guestimation side of things, though i tend to find that baking is a lot less forgiving when it comes to this sort of thing. ive never personally made my own pizza dough before so this is good info for me, i might try it out sometime. you can actually see visually that the 50% dough looks the best, so i guess if you were going to go by guestimation you'd want it to look a lot like that.

    i am interested to know what toppings Amfibius went for on his pizzas, he has shown some interesting concotions in the food porn thread .. im not really much of a big seafood fan, but that prawn pizza he made looked absolutely delicious.

    id be interested also to see what his take on a chicken pizza would be.
     
  8. OP
    OP
    Amfibius

    Amfibius Member

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    Sorry guys I am away for a few days and the pictures are at home :) But these were the toppings:

    - Margherita
    - Prawn
    - Baby squid
    - Prosciutto
    - Chorizo

    I'm not as interested in the toppings as I am in making the dough and base perfect. Toppings are easy, I just copy the menu from a decent Italian restaurant :)
     
  9. username_taken

    username_taken Member

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    looks great man! I love well made pizza, haven't tried the griddle/grill method yet, but looks like it works well from your photos.
     
  10. AusScare

    AusScare Member

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    Looks like a lot of effort, but I'm sure it'd taste awesome!

    I work at a pizza shop so like a few more toppings than that :p
     
  11. di_entropy

    di_entropy Member

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    trying this atm

    i have never attempted to make my own pizza dough before (ive done home made pizza on frozen bases) or anything bread-like so this is a first for me

    the instructions look pretty wierd..especially the cooking method but am following it word for word

    toppings will be
    sliced chorizo
    swiss brown mushrooms
    artichokes
    fresh tomato
    mozarella

    sauce will be a jar of leggos sun-dried tomato and oven roasted garlic pasta sauce as my gf forgot to buy the tomatos :Paranoid:

    just made the dough and waiting for it to rest for 30 mins, then the further 90 mins after shaped.. its gonna be 9.30pm before i get to eat and i've been starving since 5pm

    hope this is worth it.. will post results :thumbup:
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2009
  12. Davem

    Davem Member

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    Can you explain what your cooking these on again ?

    Pictures maybe too, i've tried a pizza stone and i just cannot get it to cook the pizza fast enough.
     
  13. Holy

    Holy Member

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    He says in the post...

    Cooking
    I used Heston Blumenthal's method:

    - Preheat your oven using the grill setting to maximum, with the oven door closed.
    - Put a cast iron pan on the gas burner at maximum heat.
    - Make your pizza
    - Invert the pan and place your pizza on the base
    - Insert the pizza into the oven
    - In 2 minutes your pizza will be done
     
  14. OP
    OP
    Amfibius

    Amfibius Member

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    I'll post pictures when I get home guys. That should be tomorrow night.

    I'm not a fan of too many toppings on pizzas. I've worked really hard to get the dough and tomato sauce to taste right, the last thing I want is to swamp the flavour with too many toppings! :D

    I forgot to mention that I made all the dough for the pizza party the night before and then retarded the mixture in the fridge. I took it out 2 hours before cooking to let it cool, and then shape it into balls. If you do this, you get a more intense bready note when the pizza is cooked. The Margherita was the best pizza IMO, the smell of freshly baked bread was intoxicating.

    I have also experimented with other ways of cooking pizza over the last few years:

    - in a Weber (FAIL - takes too long, bottom cooks but top barely cooked)

    - on a pizza stone (works OK provided you preheat the stone for at least an hour at max oven heat; but no good if you need to make >2 pizzas because it does not hold on to much heat)

    - on a perforated pizza pan on its own (FAIL - this results in soggy crust) and sitting on a pizza stone (FAIL - this is even worse!)

    - on a perforated pizza pan, cook the bottom, then flip over and apply toppings and cook the top (this works but is very troublesome)

    - in a woodfired pizza oven (this works but you are likely to burn the pizza if you are not careful. Also, I don't have one where I am at the moment) <--- results in the best tasting pizza I have ever eaten. Now I need to work out how to get the woodfired taste into the pizza :)

    The texture from the pizza cooked in the method I described above is comparable to a pizza from a woodfired pizza oven. But the taste is lacking a little.

    I have found the main problem to be the difficulty in applying equal amount of heat to the top and the bottom of the pizza. As I have said in other threads, the top cooks by convection/radiation and the bottom cooks by conduction. The two different cooking methods will result in pizzas that are unevenly cooked top and bottom, unless you manage to nail the cooking method. This is why woodfired pizzas don't work unless you have them fired up for a few hours before cooking. And this is why I went through so many failures. The method above which I pillaged from HB works very well indeed.
     
  15. badsac

    badsac Member

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    A man after my own heart. As your thread shows, this is where the art is. :thumbup:

    I wonder why you've had trouble here? I've had no problems with a perforated tray. I probably get a better result with it than a stone. :confused:
     
  16. di_entropy

    di_entropy Member

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    just finished eating half of it (is pretty filling)

    notes:
    should have used more flour under the base after shaping it so it didnt stick when transferring to the cast iron pan and made the base thinner before cooking.. base turned out to be around 3cm thick once cooked (raised nearly double)

    1tbsp of honey seemed like too much.. could taste too much honey in the base for my liking although it was a pretty generously measured tablespoon.. actually after trying another piece it seems to be something in the jarred pasta sauce i am mistaking for honey that i dont like

    and it definately needed longer than 2 mins cooking time.. i did the girlfriends at 2:30 and it was still way too doughy.. i did mine for 5mins and it was cooked but probably could have done for another 2-3mins imo

    i think maybe my base was too thick, i didnt pre-heat the oven long enough and i didnt get the cast iron pan hot enough before cooking

    would probably use 1-2 less different toppings next time also

    other than that it tasted good and got half left for lunch tomorrow :)

    your photos look like they would have tasted better than mine tho :p

    edit: put my leftover half back in the oven on a perforated pizza tray and no grill for 5mins at 220c and seems to be properly cooked now
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2009
  17. OP
    OP
    Amfibius

    Amfibius Member

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    Sounds good ... where are the pics? :)

    I suppose this thread is more about my own journey of trial and error. Everyone's oven is different, and everyone will roll out the dough a bit different. If you roll the dough thicker than what I did, it will affect your cooking time. If you let the dough rest after rolling it out, the yeast will puff up the dough and will affect cooking time.

    TBH I left the pizza in the oven until the top looked cooked then brought it out. I also had to experiment with using different shelves in the oven - tried the top shelf, and the second top shelf.

    There are so many variables that I think the way to get your own pizza perfection is to practice it yourself.
     
  18. di_entropy

    di_entropy Member

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    i agree.. i am pretty confident that i should be able to get it spot on with my next attempt with some more fine tuning..and i will definately make my own sauce

    [​IMG]
    Click to view full size!


    [​IMG]
    Click to view full size!


    [​IMG]
    Click to view full size!
     
  19. Davem

    Davem Member

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    Yeah ... I should have maybe been more specific

    This Gas Burner part. Is your oven a gas one that has flame your resting this iron pan on?

    Or do you heat the pan up on a stove top and then move it to the oven?

    I'm dealing with a fan forced oven here :(
     
  20. kukulkan

    kukulkan Member

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    Bear in mind Heston planned all the recipes in the series on using common household items in the UK. Over there, most ovens have a grill in the oven section, that you can turn on independent of the oven. Over here - most have separate grills.

    The technique will still work fine over here though. Get a cast iron pan with an ovenproof handle hot as bugger over a flame (either on your cooktop if you've got gas, or on your gas BBQ if you haven't). Put the pizza onto the base of the pan, and use that as your "tray" in the oven.
     

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