Pizza toppings and the concept of the "double oven"


Continuously on the quest for the perfect pizza, I experiment with several combinations. The dough is one thing that took me quite a while to sort out, and since I’m not an apprentice at a world class pizzeria in Italy or NYC, it’s really trial and error to get it right. In adhering to the formula put forth in a previous post, and to stick with the ratio concept, the breakdown for my dough by bakers’ percentage is as follows:

Flour (all-purpose): 100%
Spring water: 60%
Poolish (50/50): 10%
Salt: 2.5%

In keeping with Ruhlman’s ratios, 5:3 flour to water, salt to taste and a leavening agent.
Each 13″ pie is about 300g, so for example if your total is 500g of flour, you can make about 3 pies since your total mass is about 900g. It makes sense. Finally.
For the leavening agent, I use the sourdough starter that JW got me from King Arthur that I keep in a small, sealed flour bin on my kitchen counter. It’s fed with a 50/50 mixture of spring water and AP flour. If there aren’t any bubbles in it, it’s dead and needs to be refed. I don’t use any instant dried yeast or cake, and I don’t know what the advantage might be other than potentially faster rise time. Again it all varies according to temperature, but an easy estimate is 3-4 hours. You can refrigerate it at any point and bring it out when you’re ready to use.
The techniques are autolysis (start with 75% of the flour) for 20 minutes, followed by wet-kneading for about 10 minutes gradually adding the remaining flour, mostly at the end of kneading. It’s all in the stand mixer with the dough hook.

The cooking method is a raised grid with a 13″ stone at max temperature. Since the heat source is from below, it’s hard to get a char on top of the pizza like you would in a brick oven. Or is there? Grilled pizza is always going to be more cooked on the bottom than on top, just because that’s where the fire is. So, why not run the broiler in your oven, take the pizza off the grill just before you think it’s done and stick it under the broiler for a few seconds to get that brick oven char? In fact, why not do that for all of your pies, and then broil them as you’re ready to serve? Timing is always an issue with grilled pizza, because you’re making them one at a time. This way, you can “premake” the pizzas, and then “finish” them. Just an idea….

The pizzas last night were:

  1. Margherita (of course!)
  2. Grilled pork chop, sauteed mushrooms and garlic, balsamic vinaigrette, fresh rosemary, and Gruyere
  3. Chorizo, roasted tomato, roasted garlic, thyme, and mozzarella (see picture)

This is only to illustrate the point that you can put whatever you want on your pizza. Clear out the fridge if you like, sort of like making soup or stock. However, if you can make a good Margherita pizza, the rest is just up to your imagination.

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