I love having friends over for dinner because I can covertly subject them to pizza experiments while they just think they’re getting delicious homemade pizza. This week I made two batches of dough and baked them to find out what really works in my home oven. This is by no means an exhaustive test, I just baked three of each dough and compared the results. The two flour types: General Mills All Trumps 50111 and Molino Spadoni Gran Mugnaio “00.″
Both batches of dough are the same formula:
0.5% yeast (active dry yeast)
2% olive oil
I’m giving you the recipe in bakers’ percentage, which means you can start with any amount of dough and simply solve for the respective percentage to find the desired weight. So if I’m using 1kg (1,000g) flour, I know I’ll need 650g water, 20g salt, etc. This just makes scaling the recipe easier and keeps ratios the same at different quantities. It does mean you’ll need a kitchen scale but that ends up being way fewer dishes now that you’re not using all those cups and spoons you bought when you moved into your first apartment.
OH FINE I’ll give it to you in weight.
3g yeast (active dry yeast)
12g olive oil
Let’s start off with the All Trumps flour. Here’s a shot of the pie just before it traveled into the transformative warmth of the oven. I topped it with fresh mozzarella from Dipalo Fine Foods plus some Polly-O whole milk, low moisture mozzarella. The showstopper is the Hormel Rosa Grande natural casing pepperoni, which is absolutely dynamite on a pizza. Everyone’s obsessed with it over at Prince Street Pizza, so I figured I’d give it a whirl.
The after picture is that first one up top, with the red onion and fennel fronds on it. Tell me you don’t want to eat that up and I’ll call you a liar. But we’re here to talk about the crust, so let’s get to it. The All Trumps worked well. This dough felt good, browned nicely, and tasted the way pizza is supposed to taste. I know I’m getting into semantics here, but if I’m eating a New York slice this is the flavor I anticipate.
The same cannot be said for the next pie…
I don’t know anything about Molino Spadoni – I think I got this bag of flour as an impulse purchase – but I do know people are very keen on bragging about using “00″ flour as of the past decade or so. The number is a designation of how finely the flour is milled and people freak out about it being the best.
When I made the dough, it was clearly drier than the All Trumps batch. I know protein absorbs water, but Molino Spadoni isn’t supposed to be any higher in protein than All Trumps. In fact, it’s probably lower. I’ve also read that “00″ flour doesn’t need as much water as less refined flours, but somehow this batch still wanted more water. I added a small amount by wetting my hands as I kneaded the dough, but not enough to make it the consistency I wanted. But I left it alone and it did its thing for 48 hours in the fridge.
The resulting dough was very even and smooth, but didn’t bake so well. This is a white pie topped with prosciutto (post oven) and fennell fronds (gotto get rid of them somehow) with a little garlic under the cheese. Tasty toppings, but the crust was tough and lacking flavor. It didn’t brown at all, but I had to take it out of the oven to prevent more drying. I baked on a Baking Steel, which helped me get some decent charring on the underside, but the overall crust color was definitely not what I wanted. No flexibility at all.
I’ll have to do some more research about this Molino Spadoni flour to see if there’s a reason it didn’t work so well. Maybe I’ll compare it to other “00″ flours. To be honest, I’ve never had much luck using those in a home oven. They’re great for hi temperature wood-burners but not my little gas oven. More tests to come, but for now just enjoy this lovely Pizza Margherita.