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Old 01-28-2006, 07:07 AM   #21
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Question

My pizza dough recipe is virtually identical to MJ's and it does make a good pizza.

The baking instructions were a little different though - first, the author recommended letting the pizza dough rest for about 30 min after its rolled out but before the sauce and toppings are put on. Also, the author gives a lower baking temp (about 400F) for about 15-20 min.

I have a QUESTION for you pizza experts out there - I usually just use store-bought mozarella and I find that it burns if I put it on in the beginning so I usually put the cheeze on during the last 5 minutes of the baking time. Does anyone else experience this?
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Old 01-28-2006, 11:13 AM   #22
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darn it.... ! I used to live by a safeway, was my favorite grocery store, and now that I am in Ontario, I have NOT seen ONE safeway.. grrrrrr
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Old 01-28-2006, 11:37 AM   #23
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Couple of quick tips for pizza making. First, MJ's dough recipe is basic and very good. Pizza is supposed to have a yeasty crust, without a lot of sweetness. It is a platform for the other flavors. But the yeast-flavor just happens to compliment everything good about the other flavors.

A heavy, well seasoned, 10 inch (12 or 15 inch if you can find them) cast-iron pan works nearly as well as a pizza stone. It gives that crispy outside texture you're looking for. The secret behind both pizza stones, and cast iron being that they both hold there heat very well because of there thermal density, and both should be pre-heated.

Cast iron works phenominally in a Webber Kettle babecue grill, even without pre-heating, with the lid on teh grill of course. The charcoal is set up in a solid bed configuration and allowed to get very hot (about 550 to 600 degrees).

To prevent the cheese from scorching, place it on the crust first, followed by just enough sauce to cover. Follow with meats and veggies. But be careful with the placement. Before I had much experience with pizza, I thought that more meant better. I found out that if you absolutely smother the pizza crust with meats and veggies, the pizza flavor was unballanced, and the crust wouldn't cook through. You should add enough toppings to provide a good flavor, but still be abble to see the sauce underneath. That is, there should be gaps between the pieces. Cover with a bit more sauce.

Sauce should be very strong so that you don't need to drowned the pizza in order to taste it. The general flavors in pizza sauce are tomato, oregano, and salt. You can customize your sauce with the addition of tarragon, black pepper, extra-virgin olive oil (I like the flavor of Carrapelli brand for this application), red pepper, and/or fennel. Basil is sometimes used as well, but tends to add an unwanted sweetness if too much is used.

I'm a sauce nut and so add a bit more sauce over the other toppings in addition to the underlying sauce, but that isn't the usual thing to do.

If you're like me, and love pepperoni, here's another tip that I've developed. I place the pepperoni on first on top of the cheese but before the sauce. I love the stuff, but don't care for it all dried out and crunchy. It also develops an overly salty flavor when dried out. The sauce and other toppings prevent my favorite sausage from overcooking.

The smoke from the charcoal, and the almost scorched flavor from the intense heat really adds to the pizza flavor, which is why people rave about pizzas cooked in the Italian-style brick oven, the one with the fire in the back. The pizza is continually rotated in the oven every few minutes and the fire lightly scorches the crust. There are even pizza gourmets that insist on a crust with lightly scorched, or blackened edges.

There you have it from another pizza lover.

Seeeeeya; Goodweed of the North
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Old 01-28-2006, 12:44 PM   #24
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Question

Goodweed - what great tips! The next time I make pizza I'll add the sauce last, like you do. THANKS!

Quote:
A heavy, well seasoned, 10 inch (12 or 15 inch if you can find them) cast-iron pan works nearly as well as a pizza stone
Wow! I've use castiron since I don't own a stone so if you could help me with some questions I'd appreciate it. BTW, as a lowly apt dweller, I have no outdoor grill so please, if you can, answer in terms of oven baking using castiron surface...

QUESTIONS about using castiron baking surface
> do you sprinkle the surface of the castiron with cornmeal before placing the pizza there? The recipes I've read usually tell you to do that but family complains about "crunchy" pizza bottoms.
> what's a good temp? (The recipe I use says about 400F but many recipes I've seen recommend 500F or hotter). If I go for the higher temp, will the bottom of the pizza burn?

PS - this is my castiron "pizza pan" - a friend gave it to me - he said he got it in France and it looks like it was intended for crepes
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Old 01-28-2006, 02:23 PM   #25
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That is a perfect pan. And as for oven temp, go with 450 F. Any lower and it takes too long for the crust to cook. The toppings will be overcooked by the time the crust is done all the way through. If you have a sufficiently large spatula or peel, to transfer uncooked pizza to the pan, preheat the pan with the oven.

Another good method, if you don't have sufficeintly large tools is to cut a pice of stiff cardboard large enough to place the pizza on. Make sure the cardboard is floured, as it will be your working surface. And yes, corn meal is great as it doesn't smoke up the house like oil will. Its little granuals act like ball berrins and keep the dough from sticking. Alternately, add oil, or for a better flavor still, clarified butter to the hot surface and immediately place the pizza on it, taking great care not to burn yourself. Simply slide the pizza off of the cardboard and onto the cast iron pan.

Baking time is around 12 minutes at 450. Check the crust edges and remove when they start to brown. Let the pizza rest for about ten minutes before slicing to give the crust a bit extra time to cook, and to prevent everyone from burning their mouths on the hot toppings.

Hope that answres your questions.

Seeeeeya; Goodweed of the North
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Old 01-28-2006, 02:25 PM   #26
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I have a slightly bigger cast iron griddle that I use for cooking my tortillas on and have used it for baking pizzas on also. When making pizza on it, I do sprinkle cornmeal on the griddle first. I use a 450-475 degree temp.
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