Pizza Margherita – 30 January 2011

This was my first attempt to make the pizza classic “Margherita.” It  came close to working, but I think I needed to cook it a bit less time.

I used a recipe from Epicurious for the toppings, but my usual crust recipe, which is for Chez Panisse Calzone. However, I messed with the crust b/c of having read in Cook’s Illustrated that leaving the dough overnight in the fridge was good for it, and that putting sugar in the crust helped it get … crusty. I added 1 tsp sugar to the standard recipe, and made it last night. Today at 2 when the dough was still about as dense as when I set it to rise, I gave up, took it out of the fridge, and let it rise with the bowl set in warm water, and then in the sunlight (works great with plastic wrap (reuse it!) on the bowl so you get a greenhouse effect 😉  I ended up punching it down an hour or so before cooking, and of course freezing half the dough for a future pizza.

I didn’t change the epicurious recipe for the tomato sauce, but did add 1/4 tsp salt after cooking (no specific amount is specified at this point) and used really big basil leaves, torn into 4-6 pieces. I pre-cooked the crust 1 1/2 minutes, then spread the thick sauce over it and daubed on two balls of Mozzarella Fior di Latte (from Cheese Board) cut into 5 slices each (had to count slices in the photo 😉 ) I cooked this 6 minutes, turned the pizza around a bit, and cooked another 1 1/2 mins. I think that was too much. The red sauce was quite dry to begin with (cooked a smidge too long?) and so was the fresh mozz.

The Margherita we had at Pizzeria Delfina on CA in SF the other day had sorta pools of fresh mozz instead of medium-dry patches. I tossed a bunch of fresh basil over the top after cooking, but it did not melt in as I had thought it should. Fine, though.

D was looking through the wines we got yesterday at the Bowl and noticed one from Tuscany – as close as we had to Napoli 😉 – called Piazzano Ventoso. Then he noticed it was from Marc di Grazia, so that settled it. It wanted breathing, but was quite happy once it had got it.

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