I like to imagine that I’ve enjoyed some pretty amazing food throughout my life. When I think about great food, I think about soups so thick that I eat them with a fork; I think about fresh pastas stuffed with different types of squash; I think about artisan breads with well-textured crumbs. Then, I think about crisp apples and fresh plums, steel cut oats and brown basmati rice, chickpeas and lentils. And after I think about a few other things, I might also recall those long ago days when pizza was on this same list.
I haven’t had an amazing pizza since visiting Capri in late September 2009. The pizza was almost paper-thin and topped (if memory serves correctly) with grilled baby squid.
Yet, these simple, thin-crust pizzas created one of the best meals I have had in some time. And that is saying something.
The story begins and ends (well, almost) with the pizza crust, courtesy of Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. This dough rocks. I made the dough the day before making the pizza, allowing the dough to rest in the refrigerator overnight—a key step to extraordinary pizza, according to Reinhart. The shaping was difficult, admittedly. But I feel as if this type of handing gets easier with experience. The first pizza I attempted to shape by gently rolling it around my fists tore immediately. The second two were far from perfect, but did work. I never reached the tossing stage. Maybe next time.
Here is my first pizza, ready to be topped. You will have to forgive the irregular shape!
I kept the toppings very simple, keeping with Reinhart’s “less is more” strategy. Each pizza was topped with some sort of sauce, a blend of three cheeses (Romano, mozzarella, and a mild blue), and a fair amount of herbs. But remember: less is more. The components should work in harmony with one another.
I topped the first pizza with a light red sauce and a blend of basil, oregano, and flat-leaf parsley. I topped the second with pesto and a blend of dill, cilantro, chives, and fennel fronds. I topped the final one with olive oil, diced yellow onion, and a blend of basil and flat-leaf parsley. I also topped the third with some fresh green onions. I thought they might burn in the 500 degree oven, but the whole sprigs actually survived.
I have now completed 25 of Reinhart’s 55 bread formulas. Percentage complete: 45.45%