Pizza, pizza, pizza!

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So a few weeks back, I had a brain rush to make pizza. Back at Christmas i got a second Baking Steel; this time it was the Baking Steel Mini Griddle to be used inside our convection toaster oven. Turns out I use the griddle way more regularly stove-side for making grilled cheese sammiches, french toast and ocassionally bacon.

I finally figured out how to get the thin, crispy, air bubble-filled pizza crust that I have been pining over ever since The Rock Wood Fired Kitchen shut down in Calgary! *swoon!!*

It only took me three years or so to figure out the way to go is by using a high-hydration dough — I know, it’s so obvious in hindsight! The thing is, it’s not just the high hydration dough that makes my newfound pizza-making skills amazing, it’s also the time it takes for me to bake the pizzas and way in which I execute it.

The crust recipe is from the Baking Steel website. Obviously this isn’t my own creation, but from now on it is definitely on my list of fail-safe recipes whenever I am keen to make pizzas. This dough is soft, super slack when worked with after giving it an hour or more to just rest at room temperature while you’re preheating the oven, gives you a wonderful thin crust with gorgeous air bubbles on top, and some decent char happening — the underside gets a patch here and there plus blistering happens on the bubbles on the top. The only minor drawback to this recipe is it’s a slow fermenting 18+hour deal that you have to make sure to plan for in advance.

Just for fun, if you’re keen to have your own version of ‘secret ingredient pizza dough’ recipe, there’s a fun addition I enjoyed that Baking Steel also suggests that I will include, below.

The key to getting the pizzas baked to perfection is to do it in a short amount of time. Having one steel on the highest broiler-level rack and using one as close to the bottom of your oven as you can possibly get it in case you want to bake the pizza an extra minute or two to finish the crust’s bottom without burning the top to cinders is definitely the awy to go. I am ridiculously amazed that it only takes me about 3 minutes to have a pizza baked to my definition of pizza perfection; sometimes it takes 4 minutes if it’s a heavily loaded meat pizza (a rare choice for toppings for this cooking method), and sometimes even 2 minutes for a simply dressed down white pizza (my recently discovered favourite).

Toppings-wise, this kind of thin crust pizza is definitely where the less-is-more concept is what you’re going to want to keep in mind when you top your pizzas so they bake off within 3-4 minutes.

No-Knead high hydration dough

500g (17 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour, (I used bread flour, this one is killer), plus more for shaping
1g (1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
16g (2 tsp) fine sea salt
350g (1 1/2 cup) water

Optional SUPER SEKRET INGREDIENT(!):
16g instant cheese powder packet 😜

    1. In a medium bowl, thoroughly whisk the flour, yeast, salt and secret ingredient (the cheese pkg from your favorite boxed mac & cheese mix). Add water, and with a wooden spoon or your hands, mix thoroughly.
    2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and allow it to rise at room temperature (about 72F) for 18 hours, or until it has more than doubled. It will take longer in a chilly room and less time in a very warm one.
    3. Flour work surface and scrape out the dough. Divide it into 4 equal parts and shape them. For each portion, start with the right side of the dough and pull it toward the center; then do the same with the left, then the top, then the bottom (the order doesn’t matter, what you want is four folds). Shape each portion into a round and turn seam side down. Mold the dough into a neat circular mound. The mounds should not be sticky; if they are, dust with more flour.
    4. If you don’t intend to use the dough right away, wrap the balls individually in plastic wrap or store in plastic cylinders for up to 3 days. Return to room temp by leaving them out on the counter, covered in a damp cloth, for 2 to 3 hours before needed.

    Broiler Method Pizza Baking Instructions
    Place Baking Steel on the top rack of the oven and second ateel on bottom rack. Preheat on convection bake for one hour at 500 F.
    Launch pizza onto the center of the Baking Steel. Bake on convection for four minutes. Protip: Use your iphone timer!
    Give your pizza a spin and switch the dial to broil for 2-3 minutes (depending on pizza toppings). Be sure to watch your pizza carefully. I usually check it at a minute to make sure it’s not getting too dark. If desired, put pizza on bottom steel for 1-2 minutes to get bottom crust tp your desire doneness.
    Take your pizza out of the oven and enjoy!
    I used a gas oven with a gas broiler, this technique works for both gas and electric. However, electric broilers have a mind of their own and will not likely start broiling right away. So timing may be extended when using electric ovens.
    [Broiler making method: http://www.bakingsteel.com/blog/perfect-pizza-using-baking-steel-broiler-method ]

    My Favourite Pizza Toppings

    Snow White’s Truffles (top left, bottom right)
    Truffle olive oil base, Mushroom-Truffle paste, shredded mozarella, baby bocconcini mozzarella, dressed baby arugula
    Stairway to Heaven (bottom left)
    Garlic butter base, prosciutto, baby bocconcini mozzarella, dressed baby arugula (lemon + garlic olive oil, s&p), fresh tomatoes, parmesan shards, drizzle with extra virgin garlic olive oil before serving

       Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy (top right)
      Tomato sauce base, pepperoni, summer sausage, ham, shredded Mozzarella, fresh tomato, provalone (Dad’s extras: anchovy, dressed baby arugula) 

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