Happy Customers

I made some awesome thin thin thin crust tonight and here are the pics of  some happy customers. Enjoy!

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Just Your Basic, Sourdough, Cheese Pizza – For Your Consideration

Couldn’t Stay Away

I tried to leave my pizza stone behind. Tried to say I didn’t need it – tried to say I didn’t like it. Well, my friends, that was a big fat lie. Check out these photos from my return to the stone.

Pizza Boxes and An Extremely Happy Mistake

So I had a potluck to go to as well as an order in from Grandma for some veggie pizzas on Saturday. Until now, I had never needed to deliver pies outside of my living room, but now I had to fill an order of five… What’s a guy to do?? Well, let me tell you about a little place called Cash & Carry: They’re awesome! I got something ridiculous like 50 generic pizza boxes for less than twenty bucks! dsc_0347On top of the cheap price, they also had five sizes to choose from, which would be super useful if my family began to order specific sizes.

Next, for some reason, I put a pie in the preheated oven and then clicked the thing over to BROIL instead of leaving it on bake like I usually do. I don’t bake on a stone, so broil is a bit inappropriate for my setup. Well, what you would think would happen, happened: The top was way over cooked and the bottom was pretty under done. But! Baking with the broiler somehow gave me a bunch of extra lift (and definitely some extra heat) and my pizza came out of the over quicker and with much larger air pockets in the crust. I loved it! The pictures seem to make it look more burned than it actually was. It was enough to make me start to look around for pizza stones again…. Do I feel another shift coming on?? Stay tuned!

pizza2

pizza3

pizza1

How to Make a Sourdough Pizza from Scratch – THE VIDEO!

I’ve been talking about how “my new great pizza recipe is coming soon” for a while – well, now it is HERE. And I’ve even shot a video to go along with it! Enjoy making your new, most favorite pizza EVER.

How to Make Sourdough Pizza from Scratch

from Ryan Sanders on Vimeo.

Here is the recipe I follow in my newly released how-to video. This is based on the Jeff Varasano recipe, with a few modifications for an oven that only goes to 550.

Things to know before you begin:

  • This recipe assumes you have an active sourdough culture.
  • Prep time on the dough is at least one day.
  • This recipe makes two pies.
  • This recipe is only given in weights. You’ll need a scale that can measure grams.
  • If any of this sounds a bit much, check out my simpler thin crust recipe here.

1. Make sure you have a sourdough starter going before starting this recipe. If you don’t have one going yet, you can order one at sourdo.com or cultivate your own local yeast like this.

2. Measure according to weight (in grams) the following.

  • Filtered Water – 220 grams
  • Bread Flour  – 336 grams
  • Kosher or Sea Salt – 1.5 tsp
  • Sourdough Yeast Culture -36 grams
  • Instant Dry Yeast – 3/4 tsp

3. Pour everything except for about one quarter of the flour into your stand mixer.

4. Use the standard paddle attachment and mix on the slowest speed until your dough is evenly mixed. You should be aiming for the consistency of a thick batter. It shouldn’t look like dough yet.

5. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 20 minutes. THIS IS IMPORTANT, DON’T SKIP THIS.

6. Put the dough hook onto your mixer and start kneading your mixture. After five minutes, bein to gradually add in the remaining flour. Aim to have all the flour in by about the eight minute mark or so. If you reach a point where the dough looks good but you still have more flour, just don’t add it.

7. After about 8 minutes, click your stand mixer up to the next highest speed. Kneed until you see the dough form a wet ball. Always err on the side of dough that is too wet, and never “be a slave to recipes” as Jeff Varasano would say. If the dough needs a bit more flour, put some in.

8. Cover the bowl and rest for 20 minutes. THIS IS IMPORTANT, DON’T SKIP IT.

9. Pour the dough out onto a lightly floured counter top, sprinkle the top of it lightly with flour, and use your hands to form it into a nice round ball. It should be wet enough so that it sags when you form your ball. If it’s perk, your dough may be too dry.

10. Place the dough in a container, cover it with plastic wrap or a nicely fitting lid, and stow it away in your fridge for 1-6 days. The 3-4 day range is best, I’d say.

11. Take the dough out about an hour to an hour and a half before you want to bake it.

12. Heat your oven to as hot as it will go.

12. Toss the dough and put a small amount of sauce on. I stick to one ladle full.

13. Top the pie with mozzarella and the toppings of your choice and slide it onto your super hot pizza stone, or if you are using a pan, just slide the pan onto a baking rack.

14. My over doesn’t have a cleaning mode, so I top out around 500 degrees. My pizzas take about 5-7 minutes to bake. Keep an eye out on yours.

15. Pull it out and cool it on a wooden surface if you can. Wait about 3 minutes to cut into it. Serve.

Hope you found this helpful!
Cheers,
Ryan

How to Make Sourdough for Pizza – For (Nearly) Free!

If you’ve read about how using sourdough cultures can take your homemade pizza making to a whole new level, you’ve read right! If you haven’t read about it – keep reading! You will never, ever, EVER go back to making pizza with store bought, dried, packaged yeast. Whatever your pizza tasted like before sourdough, it will seem like cheezy cardboard after you’ve started using sourdough cultures.

Ok, enough about how much you’re going to love sourdough pizza dough (seriously though, you are going to love it). Let’s talk about how you can get your hands on some wonderful tasting, unique to your area, evny of all your friends sourdough starter!

To many people, sourdough seems imposing. Raising live bacteria cultures isn’t an everyday activity for most home cooks. Well I’m here to tell you: raising a sourdough culture from scratch is about the easiest thing you’ve ever done in the kitchen. The only thing it requires is a bit of patience and a bit of time. Below I have outlined the few steps you need to take in order to raise your own living sourdough culture. Enjoy!

Step 1: Mix 1 cup water with 1 cup all purpose flour in a container which has a lid. Glass is best (since you can see what’s going on inside) but anything with a lid will do. Squirt a quick squirt of lime juice, lemon juice, or apple cider vinegar into the mixture and make sure it is well blended. We’ll get to the “why” later on.

Step 2: Leave it near an open window with the lid off for 24 hours.

Step 3: Pour out half of your mixture and add 1/2 cup each of AP flour and water.

Step 4: Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you begin to see lots of bubbles and/or a nice little frothy top on your culture. Tada! You’ve got yourself a sourdough culture!

Step 5: Use to make way better pizzas than you ever would have before.

Once your culture is bubbly and frothing (activated) you can keep it in the fridge for up to six months without feeding it. When you want to use it, pull your culture out, give it some fresh bacteria food (equal parts flour and water) and let it sit out on the counter until it is bubbly again. Bubbles = ready to bake!

After a while in the fridge, you may start to see a greyish liquid form on top of your culture. This is called hooch and is a natural byproduct of yeast. You can either pour it off or stir it back in – either way works. I like to stir it back in because I feel like doing this keeps that sour flavor stronger than if I dump it off.

Ok, now for the whys. There are thousands of wild yeast floating around everywhere on earth. Whether you are in your kitchen, in your yard, or at the beach, chances are good that you are surrounded by wild yeast floating through the air. What we are doing by setting out some water and flour is giving these yeast a place to cultivate and grow. The yeast float on into your container and set up camp. The reason why you add a bit of acid (lemon juice, vinegar, etc.) and the reason why this mixture never grows mold is rooted in the yeast as well. Sourdough yeast like a acidic environment. They thrive in it, in fact. So by making the mixture slightly acidic to begin with, you ensure that the yeast will begin to grow quickly. After the sourdough is going strong, the mixture is extremely acidic, and this acidity makes the mixture uninhabitable for most other microbes. The mixture protects itself!

The best part about this process is the fact that your culture is unique! Your sourdough will taste different from the San Fransisco sourdough at the store and different from the sourdough from the bakery down the street. You have atruly unique taste – and you can brag that your bread/pizza is a truly LOCAL taste. Enjoy!

-Ryan

The Tools of the Trade

I’ve been shopping online lately and wanted to share a few of the better pizza supply stores I’ve come across. Use these sites to get everything you need from trays and screens to peels and stones. A few of these places can send you ingredients which may be nice if you are looking for that special ‘OO’ flour or a certain brand of stewed tomatoes. Check them out and happy shopping!

Pizza Toolshttp://www.pizzatools.com/ – Exactly what the name implies. They’ve got all the essentials when it comes to the tools of the trade.

Mission Restaurant Supplyhttp://www.missionrs.com/pizza-supplies.html – These guys have all the tools you’d ever need but since they are a restaurant supply shop, they’ve also got fun things like pizza delivery bags, boxes, and other more restauranty items. Who knows! Maybe you’re looking to travel with pie?

Pennsylvania Macaroni Co.http://www.pennmac.com/page/27 – These guys have a few tools, but they specialize in ingredients mostly. Many of the better cheeses, flours, tomatoes, etc, can be found right here.

Sourdoughs Internationalhttp://www.sourdo.com/ – I’ve written about these guys before, but you’ve REALLY got to get some sourdough starter from these guys. It’s awesome and your mouth will hank you.

Published in: on March 10, 2009 at 6:30 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Free Sourdough for All!

sourdoughHello there – if you would like an active, ready to bake with, sourdough culture and you live in or around the Chico, California area, leave me a comment here on the blog and you can have any of the three cultures I keep active in my fridge at all times. I currently have two cultures from Italy, one of which is over two hundred years old, and one is actualy local Chico sourdough which I captured and have been feeding for the past year or so. Give me a few days notice and plan on bringing a little container and whichever strain sounds yummy is yours! All three make exelent pizza.

Published in: on March 10, 2009 at 8:11 am  Leave a Comment  
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Not Your Normal Pizza Dough Recipe – Unique Dough from Sourdo.com

If you are at all interested in pizza making, then you have definitely Googled “pizza recipe” many times. The thing is, it seems like 90% of the pizza dough recipes out there are the exact same recipe! They go something along the lines of two teaspoons yeast, white all purpose flour, a bit of salt, pinch of sugar, warm water, yadda yadda yadda..

So how about tonight, you go out on a limb and try this truly unique dough recipe brought to us from sourdo.com! It isn’t quite whole wheat, it isn’t quite white. It’s got a truly interesting texture and flavor and who knows, maybe this could be your new favorite crust. I made it recently and we were pleasantly surprized with the outcome. In fact, I think the pizza photos below are that exact pie (I think). Anyhow, try this recipe out and let me know what you think.

Mix:
1 cup semolina flour
¼ cup corn flour
(not corn meal)
½ cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon rye flour
40 grams gluten flour (⅓ cup)
Add white bread flour to a total weight of 580 grams (4⅔ cups)for the mixture

Add:
1½ cups water
1 cup active culture
(Note that my culture may be a little different from yours.
I use equal volumes of water and all purpose flour.)

Knead in bread machine (or a stand mixer).
Add: 1 tsp salt halfway through the mixing cycle.
The completed dough should be a little sticky. If not, a little more water may be needed.

Set overnight in a cool place, 55-60° F.

The quality of the flavor for most breads improves with longer rise times. So when possible, let the first rise occur overnight in a cool place. (55° to 65° F.) But longer rise times strongly depend on the nominal acidity of the culture. If the culture produces a lot of acid, the gluten of the dough will not stand up well to the extended exposure.  Also, the quality of the flour can be important. Some flours succumb to acidity more readily than others.

Form into two pies, each about the diameter of a cooking sheet.  Although you can use a rolling pin to create the thin dough, it is probably better to coax the dough by hand into the proper shape.  You want to avoid losing the entrapped air bubbles. The dough should be very elastic; occasionally you’ll need to dust the dough with flour to avoid it becoming too sticky.  After the pies are formed, dust with flour again, cover with a towel and let rise at room temperature.

Let the pies rise on wooden baking boards to minimize sticking.  A good coating of flour on the bottom before the last rise helps greatly. To release the pies from the board, flip the board over and let the pies fall by gravity.  Add some fresh dry flour to the bottom and flip it right side up again.  For toppings just brush on garlic in olive oil and rosemary.  A little tomato paste with cheese and deli meat is also good.… Use the toppings sparingly to not overpower the flavor of the crust and to avoid applying too much moisture.

It is best to bake the pies directly on a baking stone. Heat the oven to 550° F. (or as high as your oven will go). Slide pizza onto the stone, then spray oven with a misting bottle (not necessary but helps with the crust). Cook until lightly brown — about five minutes. Cool a couple of minutes on a cooling rack and serve.

Thanks sourdo.com! Also, if you are in need of some great tasting sourdough starters, check them out as well. They offer many mail order sourdough cultures and I have had nothing but good experiences with them.

The Pizzetta Stone – Translating Jeff Varasano’s Technique

If you, like me, have ever done a Google search for “NY pizza recipe” then you have no doubt stumbled across the bible-esque tome that is Jeff Varasano’s Famous NY Pizza Recipe. The recipe, which is in itself very simple, tips the scale at a hefty 22,000+ words. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve read almost every single one of those words, but it took me months to get up the courage to sit down and plow through it all!

What I’ve prepared for you here is a condensation of Jeff’s recipe; a reduction, if you will, of the simple steps minus all of the asides and fascinating science behind his pie’s creation. What we’ve got here is a recipe you could have open on your laptop in the kitchen (I prepare exclusively from my computer) and actually follow the steps without hours of scrolling looking for the next step. If you ever want more explanation as to WHY you are doing the steps below, please grab a cup of coffee and sit down for a nice bit of reading at Jeff Varasano’s Famous NY Pizza Recipe. And Jeff, if you’re out there, thanks for publishing all of your findings for the rest of us to benefit from. Enjoy!

Things to know before you begin:

  • This recipe assumes you have an active sourdough culture.
  • Prep time on the dough is at least one day.
  • This recipe makes one pie.
  • This recipe is only given in weights. You’ll need a scale that can measure grams.
  • If any of this sounds a bit much, check out my simpler thin crust recipe here.

1. Make sure you have a sourdough starter going before starting this recipe. If you don’t have one going yet, you can order one at sourdo.com or cultivate your own local yeast like this.

2. Measure according to weight (in grams) the following.

  • Filtered Water – 110 grams
  • Bread Flour (Jeff likes King Arthur) – 168 grams
  • Kosher or Sea Salt – 6 grams (This is roughly one teaspoon – my scale doesn’t do well with such small amounts, so I use a tsp)
  • Sourdough Yeast Culture – 15 grams
  • Instant Dry Yeast – 0.5 grams (equivalent to a pinch – optional)

3. Pour everything except for about one quarter of the flour into your stand mixer.

4. Use the standard paddle attachment and mix on the slowest speed until your dough is evenly mixed. You should be aiming for the consistency of a thick batter. It shouldn’t look like dough yet.

5. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 20 minutes. THIS IS IMPORTANT, DON’T SKIP THIS.

6. Put the dough hook onto your mixer and start kneading your mixture. After five minutes, bein to gradually add in the remaining flour. Aim to have all the flour in by about the eight minute mark or so. If you reach a point where the dough looks good but you still have more flour, just don’t add it.

7. After about 8 minutes, click your stand mixer up to the next highest speed. Kneed until you see the dough form a wet ball. Always err on the side of dough that is too wet, and never “be a slave to recipes” as Jeff would say. If the dough needs a bit more flour, put some in.

8. Cover the bowl and rest for 20 minutes. THIS IS IMPORTANT, DON’T SKIP IT.

9. Pour the dough out onto a lightly floured counter top, sprinkle the top of it lightly with flour, and use your hands to form it into a nice round ball. It should be wet enough so that it sags when you form your ball. If it’s perk, your dough may be too dry. For photo examples of how wet your dough should look, go to Jeff Varasano’s Famous NY Pizza Recipe of course!

10. Place the dough in a container, cover it with plastic wrap or a nicely fitting lid, and stow it away in your fridge for 1-6 days. The 3-4 day range is best, I’d say.

11. Take the dough out about an hour to an hour and a half before you want to bake it.

12. Heat your oven to as hot as it will go. Jeff broke the safety off of his over and bakes pizzas while it is running on it’s cleaning cycle. Of course, he doesn’t suggest you follow his example… If you are using a pizza stone, make sure it is in when you begin to heat the oven.

12. Spread the dough out on a floured counter (Jeff says it isn’t great for tossing), put a small amount of sauce on. I stick to one ladle full.

13. Top the pie with mozzarella and the toppings of your choice and slide it onto your super hot pizza stone, or if you are using a pan, just slide the pan onto a baking rack.

14. My over doesn’t have a cleaning mode, so I top out around 500 degrees. My pizzas take about 5-7 minutes to bake. Keep an eye out on yours.

15. Pull it out and cool it on a wooden surface if you can. Wait about 3 minutes to cut into it. Serve.

Now if you are dying to know why or how, or want to see examples of what certain stages should look like, or want to know what your options are as far as flours, cheeses, sauces, yeasts, mixers, etc, or just want to read a more in depth explanation of anything you’ve read here, check out Jeff Varasano’s Famous NY Pizza Recipe for Pete’s sake!

Hope you found this helpful!
Cheers,
Ryan