Casting Pizza on the Water

Trinque Pizza.jpg

When Bob Trinque, product manager of my new Rose™ Line, told me that his dream was to make a good pizza crust and that his crust always turned out like a rock, my heart went out to him. Bob is one of the most generous people I know so it was great to be handed a way to do something special for him. Of course I already had my idea of what the perfect pizza crust should be, but I knew this would never do for Bob who is a self-proclaimed cook and non-baker. As detail oriented and exacting as I am is how fly by the seat of his pants is Bob. So I set out to create a pizza that he would be willing and therefore able to reproduce.

My criteria were: Easy to find ingredients Speed of preparation A sturdy enough dough not to tear easily A crust that is crisp but also pillowy soft inside Good flavor I started testing pizza dough three months in advance of our August date. After about 6 different versions, I finally hit on one that so fulfilled all my goals it's now going to be my go-to pizza dough as well. The big breakthrough was a visit to Charlie Van Over in Connecticut. Charlie, a multi-talented chef of many enterprises invented the Hearth Kit (oven stone for baking bread). He also came up with an excellent technique for making bread dough in a Cuisinart. He gave me some of his baguettes to taste, saying that something about the way in which a food processor mixes dough makes it unnecessary to have a starter or biga for flavor. Sure enough, his baguettes had excellent flavor and texture so I decided to try this technique for the pizza dough. Eureka!

This is the easiest pizza dough ever, mixed in under a minute in the food processor. It needs to be mixed a minimum of 4 hours ahead of shaping and baking but can be refrigerated for as long as 2 days. I told Bob that the one deal breaker was that he had to use a scale, at least for the first time he made the dough so he could see what the consistency of it needs to be. I explained that if the dough is not sticky after mixing, it will not puff into the pizza of his dreams and will return to the stone dough of his past experience! (The proof was in the pizza.) On a beautiful August day, I set out to visit Bob in South Salem, NY, along with my half Sicilian cousin Elizabeth Granatelli who had never made her own pizza dough before. She brought her own tomato sauce, however, and is generously allowing me to post it on the blog after I get a chance to test it (it was absolutely delicious!).

I jokingly asked Bob if he had a wood-fired oven and his answer was: yes--but the birds are nesting in it so we can't use it! So we decided to use his electric oven with a pizza stone and his gas grill. Bob was in charge of amassing all the topping ingredients. In addition to the requisite mozzarella (he bought an excellent fresh one) we also used fresh oregano from his garden, crumbled sautéed sausage on one and pepperoni on the other, and a sprinkling of Romano and Parmesan on top after baking. Bob's cat Spartacus (my very favorite cat in the world) was the most attentive observer.

We ate our pizzas in the cozy tank room (Bob has a magnificent old house with very modern kitchen that was a dream to work in). Elizabeth had brought an excellent pinot (Red Bicyclette). Then, as it was such a clear night, we sat out under the stars and talked until bedtime. We were, all three of us, pizza proud!

Trinque Pizza for (2) 10-inch pizzas (215 grams dough each)

Gold Medal Better for Bread Flour: 250 grams (2 cups lightly spooned into the cup and leveled off minus 1 tablespoon
Instant yeast: 1/2 teaspoon (1.5 grams)
Salt (I use fine sea salt): 1 teaspoon (7 grams)
Cold H20: 160 grams (2/3 cup/160 ml)
Olive Oil: 1 tablespoon (10 grams)
Cornmeal for dusting the pizza pan

Place the flour and yeast in the food processor and process for a few seconds. Add the salt and process for a few seconds more. With the motor on, add the cold water and oil and then process for 40 seconds (it's fine to add the oil to the water first). Scrape the dough into a 2 quart or 2 liter container that has been lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray. Cover it tightly and allow the dough to ferment for 1 hour.

Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured counter and pat it into a square. Gently stretch it by pulling it out from one side and bringing it to the center and then repeating with the other 3 sides. Return the dough to the container and allow it to ferment for another hour. Refrigerate it for a minimum of 2 hours up to 2 days.

Preheat the oven with baking stone to 475˚F/250˚C Remove the dough from the refrigerator 30 minutes before starting to shape and shape it into a ball. Oil the top of the dough and let it sit for 20 minutes. Dust the pizza pan lightly with cornmeal. Set the dough on top and roll or press it out as far as you can. It will be elastic so will need to rest before the final stretching. Brush lit lightly with more oil and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Then slip your hands, palms down, under the dough, make loose fists, lift the dough slightly from the counter, and using your knuckles, stretch the dough from the center outwards going all around the dough. The rim should remain thicker and the disc should measure about 10-inches when you lay it back on the pizza pan. Push it into a round shape and let it sit for another 15 minutes to 20 until the edges are slightly puffy.

Set the pizza pan in the oven on the hot stone and bake for 5 minutes. Remove it from the oven and top with the topping ingredients of your choice (do not overload in order to maintain a crispy crust--I use 4 ounces mozzarella for each pizza). At this point, you can leave it on the pan or slide directly onto the stone. Bake for another 5 minutes or until the bottom, when lifted gently with a small metal spatula, looks brown and the top is brown and bubbling.

On a Gas Grill: Preheat the grill for at least 10 minutes. It should be over 400˚F/200˚C. Set the pizza pan on the grill for 2-3 minutes or until puffed but not yet brown. Remove the pan and add the topping ingredients of your choice. Return the pan to the grill for about 4 minutes or until the bottom, when lifted gently with a small metal spatula, looks brown and the top is brown and bubbling. (If you have a pizza peel you can transfer the pizza directly to the grill grates but lower the heat to low and watch carefully.)