Sunday, January 31, 2016

Today's Recipe Experiment: Foolproof Pan Pizza

You're gonna love this!

Everyone who knows me knows I am a big fan of these two things; America's Test Kitchen/Cook's Country and Pizza. I have tried a number of ATK's recipes and methods of making pizza and have had success in most, if not all of their ideas. One of the folks who used to work at ATK, Kenji Lopez-Alt , has his own blog now called 'Serious Eats' which is terrific. There are always well thought-out methods and recipes on that site and it is really a must-read for cooks. I highly recommend it. 

Palmieri's slice
While thinking about this recipe I was reminded of when we were kids growing up in Providence, RI we would get pizza strips at most convenience stores, from a bakery called Palmieri's on Federal Hill. These pizza strips would be about 8 inches long and about 3 inches wide, wrapped in olive oil-soaked waxed paper. I think they were about $0.10/each in those days. They were a deep dish style pizza with nothing but olive oil flavored tomatoes on top. No cheese, no veggies, no meats, no nothing except bread and tomatoes and they were the best! I saw on Facebook that Serious Eats had developed a method for 'Foolproof Pan Pizza' and as I am a fan of a nice pan pizza I thought I'd give it a try. As Kenji was telling us about how his recipe produces a similar crust to Palmieri's I figured if this works out, this will be my new go-to recipe for pizza. 

Anyway, after dinner on Friday night I decided to whip up this dough recipe and make pizza on Saturday as the dough needs to proof for 8-24 hours. It was really easy to make although they warn you to weigh all of the ingredients with a digital scale that reads grams as well as ounces. I mixed it up, covered it up and let it sit. On Saturday afternoon, I got to work on making the pie and sure enough it was very similar to Palmieri's except I put some toppings on the tomatoes as well as cheese. Boy, was it delicious. Following are some photos of the process and the recipe courtesy of Serious Eats. It does take some time but most of it is 'inactive' time, i.e. letting the dough proof for the 8-24 hours. Plan ahead and make this yummy pizza if you like a deep dish pizza. You'll love it! 

Weigh your ingredients carefully using a digital scale.  I did increase the water in the recipe just a bit as they said that the dough's science involves the dough being well hydrated, 60-65% of the weight of the flour. It seemed just a little dry at 275gms of water, so I added about a little less than 2 tablespoons more.

After mixing the dough (by hand with a wooden spoon.. no kneading required!) you'll be left with a very shaggy looking dough. It's OK though, the extra water in the recipe will take care of that. 

I let the dough sit overnight and by 8am-ish and it had increased in volume, certainly, but not the 4-6 times the volume it's supposed to so I let it go for the rest of the morning and most of the afternoon. The dough above proofed for about 18-19 hours. 
The method says that this recipe makes 2 10-inch pizzas so you need 2 cast iron frying pans or 2 10-inch cake pans. I have 1 10-inch cast iron frying pan and my smaller Le Creuset braiser is 10 inches so I figured I'd use that as well. Looks like a lot of oil, but it's supposed to glide across the pan easily. 

After the dough has risen, dump out onto a floured board and shape into rounds with well floured hands, stretching the dough to make it smooth on top. Pop it into the frying pans, flip over to coat both sides with oil and move around the pan to coat the pan as well. Cover with plastic and let proof for another 2 hours. After 1 hour of proofing, turn your oven onto 550 or as high as it will go, with the rack in the upper middle. If you have a pizza stone, put the stone on the rack now to heat up with the oven. 

One of the beauties of this dough is that in addition to no kneading, the dough spreads out in the greased pan so there is not a lot of stretching to do. Assemble your toppings at this point. 
Using your finger tips, flatten the dough somewhat pushing it the rest of the way into the corners of the pan and bursting the larger air bubbles. You also want to lift up the edges of the dough to make sure there is no air trapped under the dough which will make bubbles and you won't get even browning underneath. Do this all around the dough. 

Start spreading your sauce around using the back of a spoon. You want to get the sauce right to the edge of the dough. Some of the tomato will drip down and caramelize giving you those blackened crispy bits that are so tasty. I used a quick sauce I made with a 28-oz can whole tomatoes, drained (reserving 1/4 cup of the juice) and crushed, with the juice, olive oil, 3 cloves of garlic, minced (I used a microplane), 1/2 teaspoon oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a good pinch of crushed red pepper flakes. This gets simmered for 30 minutes. 

Go bold with the toppings. The structure of the dough can take it. I used mozzarella, pepperoni, onions and black olives. Note the cheese is right to the edge of the pan as well. This is where a well-seasoned and oiled cast iron pan is essential. Bake on the stone for 15 minutes. Using an off-set spatula loosen the edges of the pizza and  check the bottom crust to see if it is browned enough. If it isn't to your liking, you can put the pan on the stove, on medium, for 1-3 minutes to brown some more. 

Here is the finished product. Looks pretty tasty too, doesn't it?

Note the nice 'puff' to the crust and the yummy charred tomato on the side of the crust. Mmmm! 

The crust was nicely browned on the bottom too, with no big white spots where there might have been air pockets. 

Here is a representative slice. The crust had a nice chew to it and it was light and had a terrific yeasty flavor, in spite of the fact only 1/2 teaspoon of yeast is used. It really is very similar to the Palmieri's pizza slices of my youth. Give this a try and also try not to eat an entire pizza like I almost did!

Here is the recipe. I hope you enjoy making this pizza!

1 comment:

  1. Kimmie Poo8:05 PM

    yumm.....looks great Frenchy. my fav toppings too!