Thursday, May 4, 2006
VEGAN PIZZA NIGHT
On the left are the pizzas I made for dinner last night, cooked in dark metal pizza pans on the oven racks, at 550 degrees F, with convection; on the right is a pizza made with the same dough, but baked on unglazed ceramic tiles in my oven, same temperature.
The pictures are just to illustrate the different quality of pizza that you can get in your own home oven. They were both good, by the way! But the "stone-baked" one has a crust that is crispy all over, not just on the bottom. It looks more Italian, somehow! Last night I was just too preoccupied to heat up the tiles
I'm not going to go into a long explanation of how I make pizza. For that you can get my book Nonna's Italian Kitchen (your library might have it) or my new book World Vegan Feast for a newer version.
There is so much bad pizza out there! Which is puzzling, because, once you know a few things, it's easy. And the dough is not an afterthought-- in Italy it is the primary component, and it should be here in N.A., too. In Italy they don't over load a pizza with sauce, ingredients, cheese, etc.. The dough is simple, very simple, but it tastes so good you want to eat the edges, and you don't need them to be stuffed with cheese or have some gloppy sauce to dip them into! I'm going to give you my latest favorite dough recipe, which is from my newsletter. Both of the pizzas above were made with this dough.
HINT: Pizza dough is better if you make it hours before using and let it rise in the refrigerator for 8-14 hours. Yes, it's true, and it's very convenient. The directions are in the recipe below. An alternative is to make it in the morning, let it rise once, punch it down and refrigerate as instructed until about 2 hours before dinner (so it has time to warm up). Why is it better this way? Because dough needs time to develop the enzymes which give dough flavor and good texture.
BTW, "American Pie" by master baker Peter Reinhart is a wonderful book on pizza!
A way to stretch the dough without rolling or throwing in the air! Drape the dough over an over-turned bowl (see picture) and gently stretch it all around until it is the right size, again using the weight of the dough stretch it.
Work slowly so that you don’t tear the dough. If it does tear, you can patch it and seal it again. The pizza does not have to be absolutely round!