Tuesday, May 10, 2005

I tried it, I liked it

Remember the other day when I said America's Test Kitchen had showed me all the things I was doing wrong when I made pizza? Well, I went to their web site and copied the entire recipe for the pissaladiere they made on the show. (You can do the same thing if you sign up for a trial copy of the magazine, which is not a hardship but might actually be impossible if you don't live in the U.S., I dunno.) Then I tried it for tonight's dinner. IT IS BRILLIANT. As usual, they've managed to give definitive, foolproof instructions for making delicious food.

Here's the crux of what they recommend:

(1) Don't add too much flour to the dough. The initial ratio should be two cups of bread flour to one cup of water (there's a teaspoon of yeast, a teaspoon of salt, and a tablespoon of olive oil in there, too), and you shouldn't add more than a tablespoon or two of flour while you're kneading. Keep it sticky, using your dough scraper to move it around. You don't need to knead it for as long as you think.

(2) Don't punch the life out of it after the first rise. Just divide it in two and reshape it into balls.

(3) Oil the bejeezus out of your hands and "dangle" the dough in the air, turning it, until it's roughly 12 inches around. Then put it on a piece of parchment paper and press/stretch it into an 8x14 oval, dimpling it with your fingertips.

(4) Heat the oven to 500 degrees F with a baking stone on the LOWEST rack. (I don't have a baking stone because it broke during one of my interstate relocations, so I used a perforated pizza pan, which also works because it lets all the superhot air come in contact with the bottom of the pizza.)

(5) Use a peel or a baking sheet to slide the parchment with the pizza on it onto the stone. Bake 13-15 minutes.

For those of you who haven't tried the delight that is pissaladiere, it's a cheeseless, sauceless Proven├žal pizza topped with caramelized onions, anchovies, thyme, and olives. I committed the ultimate heresy by substituting capers for olives, since I can't stand olives. I know that is bad and wrong, but it was my pizza, so there.

I'm not usually into white pizzas. This one...this one I could relate to. My usual portion control went out the window. I overate. Kind of a lot.

It was worth it.