Last Saturday I started preparing a new sourdough batch. It is almost becoming a tradition. But then all of a sudden I found myself thinking about pizza. After all don't some of the best pizzerias in Naples still use sourdough? Then why not give it a try?
I've been trying quite a few pizza crust recipes in the last year or so and I'm still not completely satisfied. Maybe I should first explain what I'm looking for. Having lived quite a few years in Naples I have become partial to the kind of crust that's typical of the city pizzerias; thin, bubbly and soft. You could easily take a pizza and fold two times, actually the traditional way to eat pizza on the go. I don't like what I would call Roman style crust, i.e. thin and cracker crisp. I'm OK with pan pizza although my Italian pride still has to come to terms with calling that pizza :-))). Baking Neapolitan crust at home is actually impossible if you don't have a wood burning brick oven. You need the high temperatures for proper baking and the wood for the wonderful smoky flavour. Still a pale copy would be enough for me.
So to make the dough I proceeded as for sourdough till before shaping and final rise. I took the dough from the first rise and cut it into 150 grams pieces (enough for a small 20 cm pizza), rolled them into balls, oiled them slightly to prevent drying out and put them in the fridge to slowly rise over night.
On Sunday evening I baked the pizzas. I heated the oven up as hot as it goes, around 240C, not that high after all and started to bake. There are many methods to shape pizza, I find the one described by Peter Reinhart the easiest: pat the dough balls into rounds and then holding the border flick them away from you. Move around the border and continue flicking the dough till it has the right diameter/thickness. Once you try it a couple of times it works great.
I made a few different pizzas. Two "classics": marinara (tomato, garlic and oregano), no pic there, it was the first pizza, too hungry :-), and margherita (tomato, mozzarella and basil) the pizza in the pic at the start of the post. I also tried to use the dough to make a sort of pizza-focaccia, spreading olive oil on one dough circle and then covering with rosemary, sage and salt. It tasted good but it wasn't a real focaccia, it was way too thin. I also made a pizza I really like topped with a very thin layer of cream and then mushrooms (sauteed beforehand), sausage and mozzarella. Not traditional but oh so tastebud-satisfying. Probably would cause the protest of the verace pizza napoletana association ;-), but what the heck! For the pizzas I used decent cow-milk mozzarella, not the DOC one I wrote about. It would be a waste to bake great buffalo milk mozzarella, it just loses its fine aromas. As tomato sauce plain tomato sauce, just salted. I think it keeps a cleaner flavour that way.
The pizzas were quite good, crust between crispy and soft, nice taste and very appreciated by the little one (he kept asking for one more bite) but not exactly my pizza ideal... still a bit too crunchy and not "bubbly" enough. Since I always screw up something I also used the chance to learn that if you try to slide a pizza of a too little floured peel (in my case just a wooden board) your pizza will fold in amusing shapes :-)).
The search for great home baked pizza goes on....