Monday, January 10, 2011

Neapolitan pizza

Thin-crust neapolitan pizza is a simple, yet delicious form of pizza...crisp slightly-burnt crust with simple tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and basil. Generally it requires very high heat (700-800F+) which home ovens can't generate (unless you mess around with the self-clean cycle...something to try next time), but Kenji from SeriousEats came up with an interesting hack, so we decided to give it a shot. Last time we made pizza, a volcano erupted in the oven because we use the wrong type of flour (high-gluten flour is very different from gluten flour), but we were hoping to be wiser this time. We found the special italian Antimo Caputo Tipo "00" flour in our local italian store along with italian san marzano tomatoes (although we made another pie with Del Monte tomatoes and there was no difference, so will have to try bread flour next time to see if special flour makes any difference).

Mixed the ingredients and let the wet dough sit in peace for 10-15 minutes ("autolyse"), then kneaded on low for about 10 minutes...we ended up adding an extra ounce of water as the dough was too try based on the recipe.

This is what the dough looks like afterwards:

After lightly spraying the dough with oil, we kept it in the fridge for about 24 hours in a sealed container (recipe recommends at least 8 hours). Dough doesn't rise much in the fridge since yeast growth is retarded by the cold temperature, but the main point is to develop flavor. We took the dough out, formed dough balls and kept them in a covered container at room temperature (put them in the oven)...this is when the dough will rise and double in size.

We followed the instructions from this point (we need a lot more practice to make round pies). The key is to use a very hot cast-iron pan, so you can cook at high temperature to develop that charred crust. The top is developed under high heat in the broiler and the bottom develops on the stove. Within 5 minutes, the pizza was ready (we added a few basil leaves before putting it in the oven and a few after we took it out to get a mix of charred and soft). Another important tip is to spray a little olive oil on the pie before adding tomato sauce at the last minute as this prevents sogging of the crust.

We were blown away by how amazing it turned out to be and how it tasted like the real thing (and the fact that it only took 10-15 mins besides some prep work a day before).

Shaping it correctly will require more practice, but luckily our taste buds can't tell. Highly recommend this if you enjoy pizza.

But make sure to get proper gloves:
because your cute oven mitts won't survive the heat:

2 comments:

  1. No Mohits were harmed in the making of this post.

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  2. Very interesting. The use of a very hot pan and long rising time for the dough remind of Mark Bittman's No Knead bread--which caused quite a sensation on the food blogosphere four years ago--just Google it ;) I've used the recipe many times to my sons' delight.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/08/dining/08mini.html
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13Ah9ES2yTU

    Uncle Chas

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