Saturday, May 16, 2015

Pizza in Chianti

The Requisites of a Good Pizza

We have had an outdoor pizza oven at Le Ripe for one year already but it is only now that we feel relatively confident about our pizza production; we still have to be tested for large numbers.

Below is a summary of the 10 most important things we have gradually learnt about making - and eating - this Neapolitan specialty.

1. You need a very, very hot oven (ideally pizza should be cooked at about 350° centigrade or about 660° Fahrenheit)

2.This very, very hot oven should preferably be wood-fired, for the best flavour and results.
3. Pizza dough should be made with 'O' or strong flour (with plenty of gluten): manitoba is best.

4.One kilo of flour takes about 600ml of water, 23 grams of salt and a generous slurp of olive oil. This will make enough for 8 small pizzas.
pizza dough proving - best to cover
5. The dough needs to be left to rise (after it has proven - or is that proved? - for about one hour or so) for quite a long time, even 12 hours or longer.
after the initial proving the dough can rise again in the fridge overnight to be punched down in the morning and divided into balls of roughly 200g each. To avoid a crust forming, cover first with plastic clingfilm brushed with oil so that it won't stick
this is what the balls look like by lunchtime

good dough will be soft and elastic and stretch out easily into a disc
6. The balls of dough must be gently
 stretched and pressed out into quite thin but not paper-thin discs on the lightly-floured surface (sprinkle more flour for each pizza)
strained tomato pulp, mozzarella which has been 'dried out' for a day or two, a little oil and oregano if you like

7.Toppings should not be excessive and the mozzarella should be as dry as possible
Fresh zucchine, asparagus and pepper slivers on the tomato and mozzarella. Note the round pizza paddle, used for turning the pizza. A u-shaped one is used to manoeuvre the raw pizza into the oven: this requires a quick wrist-flick action.
8.The pizza should be delivered to the oven asap after the topping is added and turned once (180° horizontally) during its brief time (about 4 minutes) inside.
garlic and chilli peppers or vegetables with some anchovies on mozzarella are other good combinations
9.It should be eaten as hot as humanly possible and in my opinion tastes better with beer than wine. 

10. It is most pleasant to eat pizza in the open air.

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