Monday, July 12, 2010

The Inverse Correlation Of Convenience And Flavor

It finally rained, and then cooled down a bit to the point where the mere idea of turning on the oven wasn't suicide-inducing. I had planned to grill pizza, but figured out too late that we were out of charcoal. So on went the oven. I also turned on the attic fan, which pulled in cooler air from outside and sucked all the oven heat out through the top of the house. It's a brilliant invention and we use it most summer evenings.

I've gotten so used to using our sourdough starter that I had forgotten how quick dried yeast is to raise dough. Since I thought to make pizza the same day, I picked up a bag of yeast and banged out a simple dough recipe from a book I haven't really used before: Eric Kastel's Artisan Breads, which I got (for free) when I wrote my bread piece back in the spring. All my other trusted books require a biga, or preferment, and I was looking for one that did not, since there was no time. It does assume that you'll retard the dough overnight to improve flavor, but I skipped that part. It called for malt syrup and sugar, for which I substituted honey, and I also added about 30% whole wheat flour for taste and nutrition.

In an 80˚ kitchen, and with honey added, this ball of dough more than doubled in volume in about 40 minutes. I rolled it onto the island top, cut it into four pieces, shaped them loosely, and let them sit while I picked, washed, and cut up various toppings. The results, from top to bottom, are as follows:

1. Smoked ham, red onion, leftover sautéed beech mushrooms, and basil
2. Broccoli and garlic
3. Zucchini
(These three all had local fresh mozzarella on top)
4. Pizza rossa with arugula salad added after it cooled to room temp (a personal favorite)

The toppings were all good, especially the insane smoky ham. The crust? Not so much. No character, and the faint sweetness made it taste kind of like a cracker, which I did not enjoy. I'm sure that retarding the dough overnight adds a bit of complexity, but from now on I'm going to think ahead and get our starter fed and ready for this sort of meal. There's just no substitute for a wild starter when it comes to flavor and chew.

The leftovers did make an acceptable breakfast, though.

I'm posting this on yeastspotting, where they spot all kinds of yeast.


Zoomie said...

What an interesting surface - table? countertop? Pizzas look good, too, but you're right - good dough makes all the difference!

peter said...

It's our Moroccan tile table out on the screened porch.