Yeah, I got mentioned in the back of Peter Reinhart’s latest book “artisan breads every day”. I tested a few recipes for him. That’s all. I wouldn’t have done that if I didn’t think he was onto something that needed some “published” authority to make it mainstream. It’s a lovely book. Really. It’s the right level to convince bread machine bakers to cross the line. So yeah, I’m predisposed to like the book, but there are new things in there for me to learn. I only tested a few recipes of Peter’s. The pizza dough recipe with commercial yeast has some new to me twists and a friend tweaked me into trying pizza dough without a bread machine.
I’ve got a half recipe rising in the fridge, to be baked tomorrow or the day after. I don’t use a stand mixer for kneading and it’s a little too wet for hand kneading so I did a couple of stretch and folds of the soft sticky dough in the bowl, 10 minutes apart, more or less. Low and behold, it became a manageable dough without too much dough sticking to me. I divided it into sandwich bags (3 for the half recipe).
Two days later (Jan 12, 2010), the dough doesn’t appear to have risen much in the fridge. That bothers me. Unless it grew and then fell and that would be a different problem. Never the less, one must continue. I took my 3 dough pancakes and shaped them into balls for the 1 1/2 hour rise. There was some gas bubbles on the surface so there was some rising in the fridge and they are holding their shape fairly well. Those are good signs.
OK, truth be told, I pulled one baggie out yesterday for a few hours of counter squatting and it did nothing. So I put it back in the fridge. So I have two bags that didn’t deviate from the recipe and one that did. It was obvious when I shaped one into a pizza, and the next into a calzone and the wrong fellow into a calzone. I topped the pizza and baked it and appearance wise, it’s a winner. The first calzone baked up kind of OK – I want a new recipe for calzone dough. The bad dough calzone was indeed a mess to work with. Looks OK when baked and I’ll eat it but it’s not right.
That means Reinhart’s pizza recipe works. For pizza! calzones? maybe. The pizza was very good. Really, it was very good! Best pizza I’ve ever made. Crisp crust, not too thick or too thin but with chew and some texture. Around here, it’s artisan quality pizza. Boise happens to be home to one the few certified Neapolitan pizza makers in the US and mine (Reinhart’s) was almost as good as theirs. With a wood fired oven of my own, and some practice it might be close.
The first calzone isn’t going to be of that quality. The second calzone, the one I dinked with probably won’t be either. I didn’t say they will be bad. I’m using the Foodie measuring stick which only has 3 ticks: Perfect, Nearly Perfect and You Fail. That’s the foodie scale and thats the measure that is used in a lot books and internet posts. You can eat eat very well in the “You Fail” zone but the foodies don’t want to admit that.
Did I mention it was the best pizza I’ve ever made and almost the best pizza I’ve eaten!? If I spend 3 times more on ingredients it would be in the Perfect zone. That wouldn’t be cooking cheap, though. Nearly perfect at low cost is fine by me.
[Jan, 14. 2010]
I didn’t freeze the baked calzones. I just wrapped them in foil and put them in the fridge, like you would with left over pizza. Heat the oven to 350 and warm them up for lunch(es). Damn, it’s still good bread. That means this recipe has to replace my bread machine easy but sucks recipe. It takes an over night nap in the fridge so it’s two days long (or up to 4 days he says) which is fine by me. Sometimes I start something and change my mind about eating it that night.
I suppose you could use the bread machine for parts of it but why bother making the timing harder? You don’t need a stand mixer either. You need a bowl, a wooden spoon, some sandwich bags and fridge space. A plastic dough scraper will reduce cursing and a digital scale will help even more. It’s a wet dough. The difference between 67% hydration and 70% is a different bread. Depending on humidity and room temperature, it’s going to be different. 65% in a humid area is just barely manageable, 70% in a dry area feels differently. You’ll never know with out scales. OK, really experienced bakers who produce a couple of hundred loaves a day would know “the feel” (hint: they have scales)
Sourdough has a long rise time so it’s actually more forgiving on timing errors than commercial yeast. You should buy his book but I will share a short version of the half recipe I used and procedure I used.
In a medium size mixing bowl, add 8.5oz of luke warm water. Add 1/2 tsp yeast, 1 tsp table salt, 1 Tbl of honey, 1 Tbl of Olive Oil (a decent EVO you like) Stir it if you like. Add 12oz of bread flour and with your wooden spoon, mix it a lot, until you get bored (a couple of minutes). Let rest 10 minutes. It’s a sticky mess. With the dough scraper fold the dough in the bowl onto it’s self from all four sides, scoop underneath and invert. Do this stretch and invert two more times, 10 minutes apart. The dough will become less sticky. With oiled or watered hands, divided the dough into thirds on the counter. Spray some cooking oil into 3 sandwich bags and put the dough chunks into the bags and refrigerate them for a day or four (2 for me worked). I know you think that can’t be right. It is.
Next Day (or so), remove the dough bags from the fridge and the dough from the bags. With oiled hands shape them into balls on the counter and cover with plastic for an hour and half. (they won’t rise as much as you are used to). Preheat your oven to as high as it goes (might take an hour) . After 90 minutes of rising, shape it – make a pizza round, top it lightly and bake until well browned (10 to 20 minutes), perhaps with burned spots on the puffy parts. It’s actually very easy and it’s unlike any yeast recipe I’ve used before. I baked on parchment paper on a sheet pan, but my oven has a pizza stone (cracked in half) for thermal mass and my oven might go to 550 at the top. Might not.
One final note to add. This is very wet dough. It is hard to shape. Expect a failure or two.
Since I wrote the above, I’ve made this with a bread machine and it was fine (slightly different) and a stand mixer, also slightly different.