Pizza Week - Q&A with Mozzafella
My earliest memories of pizza as a child in the late 80's are definitely the references in pop culture, seeing the ninja turtles eating the cheesiest pizzas, and going to the occasional celebration at pizza hut. I liked pizza from an early age, and it was always my first choice when on the menu, but bizarrely I never even attempted making pizza until I was in my 20s, starting with supermarket packet mixes and a recipe by a celebrity chef (who shall remain nameless) that called for 7g of yeast, claiming to make a viable dough after 15 minutes. It wasn't until I got my first pizza oven years later did I realise how bad this recipe was!
Probably the best pizza I've ever eaten was a 100% biga dough, topped with cream of truffle, Fior di latte mozzarella, fennel sausage meat and semi dried yellow tomatoes, made for me by Marco Fuso, I liked it so much I've added my own version to the menu called the 'FusoFella' in his honour.
In terms of tips for home bakers, Pizza is something you can really spend your entire life learning about, but for starters;
Probably the most important thing is the precision of ingredients. You should always weigh everything, because any deviation in mass can significantly impact your dough. Related to this is bakers percentages, which sounds confusing at first but is the best way to really scale a dough recipe. Flour is always 100% and everything else is a percentage of that, so for example if we had a dough recipe with 1kg of flour and 60% water, it would be 600g, this means you can easily scale a recipe because the ratios remain constant, you just need to calculate what the percentage is.
Understanding fermentation is incredibly important, sure you can make dough in a few hours with a lot of yeast, but the dough won't be very digestible. To make something great takes time, and different flours are suited for different fermentation times and methods, for example a strong flour like Manitoba, is best suited for longer fermentations that can take days, where as most medium strength flours that have a protein level of around 12.5g are best suited for more direct fermentation of 18-24 hours. The correct fermentation will leave you with a dough that is strong, yet stretches easily, and digests well, instead of leaving you bloated.
Lastly, remember to have fun, experiment and try new things, be it a new flour, a per fermentation, sourdough or a totally different style of pizza, don't be afraid to try something new.
Base Neapolitan dough recipe
Makes 6 - 270g Dough balls
1000g Type 0 or 00 with a minimum protein content of 12g -12.5g
600g cold tap water (60.%)
29g salt (2.9%)
1g Instant yeast or 2g Fresh yeast
Measure out your water, into a suitable container, if using a mixer add ice to account for friction generated by the machine.
Measure your flour into a mixing bowl or suitable container, crumble in your fresh yeast, if using dried, re-hydrate it in a small amount of your total water, then add to the flour.
At this point pour 95% of the water in and begin to combine the flour and water by squeezing together or mixing with a spoon, do not knead the dough.
After a few minutes begin to knead the dough, add the additional water and continue to knead the dough until you’re satisfied it’s combined and formed a loose shaggy dough, at this point add the salt.
Place the dough onto a worktop and knead for 10 minutes
Rest the dough for 10-20 minutes
Knead the dough for another 10 minutes, you’ll notice the dough is much smoother after this second knead, to test your gluten levels you can prod the dough and see if it ‘springs back’.
When you feel comfortable that your dough is well kneaded, place it in a bowl or container, either cover it with cling film, a damp cloth, or put a lid on depending on what you’re using.
Leave the dough at room temperature (18-22c) for 18 hours, it won’t double in size but it will be bigger, and the yeast will have done its magic.
Ball up and put your dough balls in a suitable airtight container, you should get 6 x 270g balls with a little bit of surplus dough.
Your balls will be ready to go after 6 hours, but should last much longer than that. If you want to keep these for another day, refrigerate them as soon as they are balled, and ensure the container is airtight, gently let the balls come back to temperature, again 4 hours is probably about right for this.
The Peanist Pizza Recipe
This is one of my favourite ever creations, I was doing a pop up event on bonfire night and wanted to do an Italian take on Pie & Peas. This resulted in the Peanist, a pizza topped with Fennel sausage meat and topped with a pea and mint Gremolata.
If you want to create this at home, pre cook some Italian style sausage meat (if it's missing fennel seeds be sure to add some).
One Handful of precooked italian style sausage meat
One handful Fior di Latte mozzarella
One generous pinch, grated hard cheese
For the Gremolata you'll need:
90g frozen Petis Pois
4 peeled cloves of Garlic
20g Extra Virgin Olive Oil
One handful of chopped Parsley
One handful of mint Leaves
A pinch of Pepper.
Add all the ingredients except for the peas to a blender and pulse until finely chopped, add the peas and pulse for a few more seconds this should leave you with a coarse textured mix, which as the peas thaw will become perfect for drizzling like a pesto post cook.
Stretch your dough, add your grated hard cheese, fior Di latte and sausage meat, cook at 450c and drizzle the Gremolata post cook (that's right no tomato sauce).