Neapolitan pizza dough
Neapolitan pizza dough is the simplest thing in the world- it only contains four ingredients! Below is a recipe to give you a great start on making a basic Neapolitan pizza dough, but you can experiment with mixing, proofing and fermentation times to really give YOUR dough a unique flavour and finish.
There are a great number of techniques that can be utilised for making Neapolitan dough- some people believe it’s best to ball the dough immediately from the mixer, whilst others will ferment at room temperature and some will do a mix. This technique tends to work best for the home pizza chef as the dough is bulk fermented for an extended period, negating the need to try and store balled dough in your fridge!
To begin, mix the flour with 90% of the water in a mixer with the dough hook attachment. As soon as it’s combined, turn the mixer off, and leave the dough for half an hour to hydrate the flour.
When the time is up, mix the salt with the remaining water and add to your bowl. Mix for 30seconds before adding the yeast.
Once you’ve added the yeast, mix on the lowest speed for 10 minutes, then turn the mixer off and leave your dough to sit for 10 minutes. Next add in the oil, if using, and mix for further 5 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a large container and cover loosely with a tea towel and leave at room temperature for 30minutes.
Finally, cling film the container and transfer to the fridge for 2 days.
When the day comes to cook the pizzas, divide the dough into 270g chunks and shape into smooth balls. Leave the dough balls at room temperature for around 2 hours before opening into a pizza skin and cooking.
Top Tip: When cooking pizzas in your wood fired oven; remember that you will need a large rolling flame and your oven roaring hot to get that 90 second cook time!
The pizza pie is an ubiquitous symbol of both Italian cooking
The pizza pie is an ubiquitous symbol of both Italian cooking and Americana. Oven-baked, thin-crust or deep-dish, round or square, it is a common favorite throughout the United States, with a wide number of regional variations.
The most traditional pie is the pizza Napolitano, or Neapolitan pizza. Made of strong flour, the dough is often kneaded by hand and then rolled flat and thin without a rolling pin. The pizza is cooked in an extremely hot wood-fired stone oven for only sixty to ninety seconds, and is removed when it is soft and fragrant. Common varieties of Neapolitan pizza include marinara, made with tomato, olive oil, oregano, and garlic, and margherita, made with tomato, olive oil, fresh basil leaves, and mozzarella cheese.
New York was home to the first pizza parlor in the United States, opened in Little Italy in 1905 by Gennaro Lombardi. It is not surprising, then, that New York-style pizza dominates in the Northeastern part of the country. It is thin-crusted, and made with a thin layer of sauce and grated cheese. The dough is hand-tossed, making the pie large and thin. As a result, it is served cut into slices, traditionally eight, which are often eaten folded in half. It can be served with any number of toppings, including pepperoni, the most popular topping in the United States, or as a white pizza, which includes no tomato sauce and is made with a variety of cheeses, such as mozzarella and ricotta.
Chicago is also home to a major variety of pizza.The Chicago-style pizza is deep dish, meaning it is made in a pan with the crust formed up the sides, or even with two crusts and sauce between, a so-called stuffed pizza. The ingredients are reversed in a Chicago pizza, with cheese going in first, and then sauce on top. This particular form of pizza was invented in 1943 at Unos Pizzeria in the River North neighborhood of Chicago.
The Midwest also plays host to the St. Louis style pizza. This thin-crust delicacy is made using local provel cheese instead of mozzarella, and is very crispy. Heavily seasoned with oregano and other spices, with a slightly sweet sauce, it is difficult to fold because of the crust and is often cut into squares, instead of served in slices.
A Hawaiian pizza is an American invention that has nothing to do with Hawaii save that one of the main ingredients is pineapple. The pineapple is put atop the pizza, along with Canadian bacon, giving a rather sweet taste very different from pizzas closer to the Italian original. Hawaiian pizza is very common in the Western United States.
In fact, a number of esoteric pizzas are common on the West coast, and gourmet pizza is often referred to as California-style pizza. This is an example of fusion cuisine, and many of the pizzas go far beyond the common tomato sauce and cheese. Thai pizza, for example, can include bean sprouts and peanut sauce, while breakfast pizza, as the name implies, may be topped with bacon and scrambled eggs. As a gourmet food, California pizzas are often individual sized, serving two people at most, and are not cut in slices like other common types of pizza pie.
Pizza is as diverse as America itself, with almost infinite variations all of them delicious.
Rediscovering Grilled Pizza
Rediscovering Grilled Pizza
Americas favorite food has long been the pizza cooked in a traditional oven but is that about to change? While most Americans have probably never indulged in a grilled pizza, the origins of pizza are making a big comeback. There is no denying that we love our traditional backyard barbeque but rarely, if ever has the barbeque included grilling a pizza. Despite the seemingly odd combination of grill and pizza, the grill is the ideal tool for cooking pizza and in fact is deep in the origin of pizza making. The high, dry heat is ideal for a nice crisp crust and the flavor provided from your grill will on a whole new world of backyard grilling.
Before the word pizza was ever used, Greeks and Romans used wood-fired brick ovens to prepare the original version of pizza flatbread. In ancient times each diner was given a piece of flat bread along with a piece of meat on the bread. This food was eaten with the fingers with an occasional knife to cut the meat. Little did they know that this would eventually spark the creation one of the Americas favorite foods.
Grilled Pizza Techniques:
Ingredients: 1 teaspoon dried yeast 1 tablespoon soy oil 1 teaspoon sugar ½ cup warm water (110°F) 1 ½ cup bread flour 1 tablespoon soy flour 1 teaspoon salt
Instructions: Combine yeast, sugar and ½ cup very warm water in bowl, let sit for five minutes. Combine flour and salt in bowl. Mix yeast mixture with bowl containing dry ingredients. Add a little extra flour if dough is sticky. Knead for a good 10 minutes. Put into a greased bowl and let rise for 60 minutes until it doubles in size. Turn out onto a floured surface then knead lightly until smooth. Roll out into a ¼" thick, 12" diameter circle. The thinner the dough is rolled, the better.
Before placing your crust on the grill, be sure that your grill is both clean and well oiled. This will help prevent the dough from sticking to the grill. You will need something large enough to transport your dough to the grill. A pizza spatula is highly recommended for this task. Brush an even coat of extra virgin olive oil on the side that will be facing down first. The oil will introduce flavor and help to keep the dough from sticking to the grill as well as giving the crust a nice crisp finish. Before placing your pizza on the grill, you may want to remove the top rack of your grill to make it easier to flip your pizza. Cook the first side from 1-3 minutes before flipping depending on the heat of your grill. During this time you will need to brush olive oil on the side that is facing up. While cooking the first side, peak under the edge of the crust to monitor its finish. Cook until you are satisfied with the finish and then flip your crust over. After flipping, immediately apply any topping that you would like. Its highly recommended that you keep the topping very light, as they will not have a chance to cook on the grill without burning the crust. You may consider precooking certain ingredients such as meats and thick vegetables. Be sure to lower the lid as soon as possible to trap the heat in and finish cooking the toppings. Cook the pizza for an additional 2-3 minutes or until you are satisfied with the crusts finish.
You are now ready to experience one great pizza with deep tradition. Cut your pizza into triangle shaped slices or try cutting them into 1 wide strips. This shape is great for a party snacks!
The Evolution Of Pizza
The Evolution Of Pizza
Trying to trace the history of the first pizza is a surprisingly controversial subject. Some claim that this popular food is based on early unleavened breads served in the early centuries in Rome. Others trace a connection from modern pizza back to the pita breads of Greece.
It's fairly well established that the first pizza as we know it today was created by a man named Raffaele Esposito from Naples, Italy. Esposito's creation was designed to honor the visit of Queen Margherita to Naples in 1889, and he decorated it with the colors of the Italian flag, using white cheese, green basil, and red tomatoes (tomatoes, which had arrived from the west about 60 years earlier, were originally thought to be poisonous, but by Esposito's time they were already embraced by Italian cuisine).
As the years passed and the turn of the century came about, Italian immigrants brought this recipe with them to America. The first pizzeria was opened in America in 1905. It remained popular almost exclusively among immigrants until the end of World War II, when American soldiers returned to their home soil and brought back a love of the pizza they had discovered overseas. With that, the pizza boom in America began and this food became a mainstream meal instead of an underground Italian snack.
The concentration of Italian immigrants in New York in those olden days explains the fact that many people feel you must visit New York to get true pizzeria-style pizza. It's where the pizza got its American start, after all. And nobody who has experienced New York style pizza can disagree. New York is famous for its pizzerias, where a true slice of pizza consists of a thin, wide crust loaded with plenty of toppings and marinara and smothered in heady Italian seasonings. A side of garlic bread and some heady pastas and tortellinis usually round out the menu. Pizzerias in New York are not for the faint of heart.
In the early 1940s, the city of Chicago, IL took pizza in a different direction. It is believed that the first pizzeria in Chicago was Pizzeria Uno, opened in 1943 by Ike Sewell. Sewell's pizza creation was a new twist on the old New York standard. He created what is known today as deep-dish pizza, where the pizza is sunk low into a deeper pan, and the crust is allowed to rise in thick bubbles around the edges. People flocked to Sewell's pizzeria, and a whole new way of looking at this favorite food was born.
To this day you can find yourself in some pretty heated debates if you argue with a New Yorker or a Chicagoan about what constitutes authentic pizzeria-style pizza. But whatever crust style you choose, pizza is a unique food with a foggy past and a definite appeal that has lasted through many incarnations.
So you're lucky enough to find yourself in New York or Chicago, or any city for that matter that has a true pizzeria, complete with checked tablecloths and plenty of garlic on the menu, indulge yourself in an old tradition and order a slice. After all, its tradition.
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Changing Pizza Trends
Changing Pizza Trends
For years, pizza has been a favorite food of American culture. Pizza, holding its own against all time greats such as hamburgers and hotdogs, has become somewhat of a staple on the American menu and on its table. However, since its comeuppance in the category of favorite foods in the U.S., pizza has come a long way as far as what is termed as great toppings and what is termed as just plain weird. Some new trends in the way that pizza is made and topped have come to the forefront. Foods that are used for toppings today and are popular, in the 1960s would have been turned away as ridiculous.
Over the past few decades, tastes have changed in America. While many pizza lovers prefer traditional pizza styles and toppings such as pepperoni, sausage, onions, peppers, mushrooms and olives, pizza connoisseurs that are new to the scene are fond of trying the non-traditional in order to find pizza topping greatness. Some newer toppings that are not so radical that the traditional pizza fan can not get past them are toppings such as chicken, ham and pineapple, and ground beef, to name a few. However, there have been toppings that have totally offended the sensibilities of that traditional pizza enthusiast.
One of the things that has completely affected the new wave of pizza traditions in this industry is the fact that the great people of the gourmet foods industry have begun to take a part in the pizza industry, helping to make it their own. Suddenly, pizza is no longer only for the superbowl party, or the kids birthday party, or a late night fix when the busy career woman comes home tired from work and doesnt want to cook. It has become the object of attention for societys elite in the gourmet foods circuit.
More and more these days, fine dining and gourmet restaurants are beginning to offer their unique take on the creation of pizza. The gourmet food industry brings flair to pizza by offering daring topping choices and letting creativity and taste come to the forefront. While some might say the toppings they choose are ridiculous, which some of the more daring topping ideas may be, some of the new trends in pizza are really beginning to take off with the more elite crowd. Some new toppings include seafood such as oysters and crayfish. Other new toppings that have been tried are game meats like venison and duck. Even wackier are toppings such as peanut butter and jelly and bacon and eggs.
While you wont find most pizza lovers willing to try mashed potato pizza, many are stepping out on a limb and trying the new toppings the renovated pizza industry has to offer. Whatever your favorite toppings are, America is in agreement of one thing about pizza: its impossible to live without.