Friday, April 24, 2009

Bread Baking with Pizza Napoletana

A day when I bought a book from Peter Reinhart : Bread Baker Apprentice, I realized that bread baking is not an easy task. The book is excellent, full of detail how to create best bread through fermentation stages. But it takes most of the recipe several hours to days to actually produce beautiful handmade bread.

We've been tried several recipes, but the easiest and worthiest is Pizza Dough Napoletana. Even though the whole process is quite tasking, I began to understand the essential of baking bread. It must be patient and follow the instruction strictly. It could be hard for beginner like me, but in the end it was a rewarding, a nice piece of bread with lovely smell filling in your kitchen. It was worth for every minutes you've spent.

We loves pizza so much, so we decided to try create our own pizza dough, putting the topping as our preferences. For trial we've using different flour from whole wheat, all purposes into bread flour. The regime was detail but make sense in many form of food science. The flour should be chilled first to let it not so fast react when mixed with yeast. It's all about chemistry and math. (It does as the book excerpt the formula into baker's percentages)

The size of dough is about right for two. The recipe let us to divide into six dough that can be frozen until 3 month. (It's rare to reach that time limit, always less than two months because we are pizza mania). To thaw and let the yeast back to life only need a day in the fridge, and two hour in room temperature. The last batch we did with bread flour made the dough more spongy, increasing size in significant amount. It also create crispier crust with lovely bubble of air.

Other key feature on pizza making is the stone bread at high temperature oven. (Peter suggested 500-550F which done by stone to distribute the heat evenly ). We've experimenting all sort of combination of topping, but turned out the Anchovies and smoked salmon with green pesto is the best one.

Anchovies and Smoked Salmon Pizza

1 Pizza dough Napoletana from Peter Reinhart's (recipe here at Heidi Swanson, let two hours in room temperature if the batch fresh or thaw a day before in refrigerator.
Olive oil for spraying
All purpose Flour for dusting
Semolina for layering on the stone

Topping :
2 tablespoon of green pesto, fresh on olive
two big flanks of smoked salmon, we uses most Scottish one
couple tablespoon anchovies
sun dried tomatoes chunks
handful of green olives
1 cup fresh mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
Note : use most of topping with oil based rather brines as water usually seep into the dough, it will finished with no solid bread surface.

  • Punch the pizza dough to reduce the air, then start stretching (follow the instruction from the recipe). If you facing hole or very thin layer, do it again once until you get the nice even thickness. Do not let hole as it tends ruin the topping and whole performance.
  • Spread the green pesto on top of dough, followed by salmon and anchovies. Filling the gap with cheeses and olives.
  • Slide the pizza onto the oven using pizza peels with semolina flour on the base. Bake for 2 minutes then rotate to another 5-8 minutes. (the pre-heat should be done half an hour before or more to let the stone ready).
  • Let it rest for 1-2 minutes then cut, ready to serve.