Top positive review
94 people found this helpful
You can all go home now, the position has been filled.
on September 20, 2012
I made Jim Lahey's pizza dough and my quest for perfect pizza dough has now ended. Just a little recap of the events that lead up to this quest. The setting, Tuscon, Arizona, 2004, an ugly, tiny kitchen and a pile of pepperoni. I'd finally mastered the art of yeast dough, thanks to a recipe from the Bread Bible and I thought, 'pizza will be so eeeeasy!' and it was.
The basic ingredients were the same (let's be real here, the basic ingredients for most yeast doughs are the same) water, salt, yeast and flour. I mixed them all, set the dough in the hottest place in my apartment (anywhere, it was Tuscon in June) and waited. While I waited I carefully shredded fontina, sliced mushrooms and stirred my homemade marinara sauce (recipe courtesy of Batali).
But the pizza was meh, edible but nothing to flip your skirt over. Mostly because of the dough. It wasn't right, too crispy, too soft, too hard, too salty, not chewy enough.
So I tried another recipe and then another. Over the years we ate a lot of pizza. I'd become obsessed. I tried spelt flour, rye, organic honey, natural yeast made from organic grapes and wheat bread flour ground locally. I added wine, kosher salt, black salt and bought a pizza stone. I dusted the baking stone with cornmeal and flour.
My husband and son became concerned, they begged me to stop, 'think about your health, honey, all this cheese it's not good for you! Let's eat burgers instead, please, mom!'
Sometimes I could stop, weeks would go by and I wouldn't think about pizza at all. Then something, usually a sale on mozzarella at the grocery store would jar me right out of my pizzaless complacency and then wham! Back in the kitchen, baking again.
But this pizza dough is the perfection I was striving for, the crazy thing is, it's the easiest dough I've ever made. No heating water, no kneading, no poolish, I didn't even use a pizza stone (mine broke when I threw it out the front door, turns out they are not terribly durable). I've gotten pretty lax about following the recipe, sometimes I sub a little whole wheat flour for the bread flour and I put a tad more salt in (gotta be careful with the salt, it can retard the yeast and lengthen the proofing.) But no matter how many little tweaks I throw at it, this dough turns out EVERY time! And it is delicious whether I smother it with prosciutto, dolaner gouda and walnuts or a thin coat of garlicky olive oil and a few sprinkles of rosemary. Alsom and this is last but not least, it looks frigging fantastic, when I make it for people they shower me with praise (I act humble and say it was nothing, but secretly I'm doing a victory dance and feeling entirely too pleased with myself).
There are a lot of interesting recipes in this book other than the all important dough, for bechamel sauce pizzas, cheesless vegan pizzas (don't turn your nose up at these, some look delightful), some really interesting looking meatballs that use mashed potatoes instead of bread crumbs as a binder and the most delicious looking charcuterie pie (I want to make it so that I can say 'charcuterie' over and over again to everyone I meet).
So, for me, this book is a life changer.