In my opinion, it’s not just the toppings that are important, but also the crust. I’m a partisan of the thinner, crispier crusts that let the flavor shine through. (If I want to eat bread, I’ll just eat bread. Which, by the way, I love to do). I have tried a couple of different recipes, and none of them look all that different, so it’s unclear to me if it’s just how much you are willing to work the dough to the thinness you desire. For all I know it’s all about equipment–until this try, I haven’t used a pizza stone for pizza (for bread, yes, but not for pizza).
I recently checked out A16 food + wine from the library and tried their recipe (side note: overall an amazing cookbook!). This is one of those make the day before, rise in the fridge overnight dough recipes. Except that for me, unless I am using instant yeast, it never works. I proceeded anyway (using the recommended active dry yeast, just to see) and still managed to get good results, even though there was hardly any growth in my dough until I took it out of the fridge 24 hours later.
Here’s the technique A16 suggests, and it did seem to get me a nice thin crust: roll out your pizza dough, and then all0w it to rest once it starts to resist, so that the gluten can relax. Each time you come back to it you can get your round a little larger. As their recipe calls for you to divide the dough into four (making four pizzas) you aren’t standing around doing nothing while you wait for that pizza-to-be to hurry up and relax, already. You can work on the other three and come back to the first one. Counter space might be tight (at least in our kitchen), but you won’t at least be staring at your watch thinking about how hungry you are getting. (I take that back–you may very well think about how hungry you are).
For round one, I made the A16 pizza sauce (nothing more than breaking up a can of san marzano tomatoes with your fingers–I shoudl have enlisted my son to do this as he loves doing this with anything red and liable to stain). It was also a great way to use up my extra cheese from my cheesemaking kit (blog entry to come–I still haven’t gotten it quite right, or at least not the process even while the end result works out).
I.e., your standard marinara pizza. The homemade mozzarella was fantastic on this, and the sauce was great too–and so easy!
Having made the most basic pizza of all, I then started digging around in the fridge. After all, I had three more rounds to go.
I found some salami, so I layered this over some more sauce and mozzarella. I threw on a few dried chilis for good measure. They didn’t add much by way of flavor overall(i.e., no need to bother) but they were a nice visual. Of course, if you actually bit right into it you got quite a kick! Cured meat on pizza is a classic, so I don’t need to tell you that this pizza was tasty as well.
Then we come to my favorite pizza creation of the evening, though beware: strong flavor ahead! No cheese this time, but rather preserved lemons, anchovies, and green onions. I had read that once you have preserved lemons in the fridge, you find a use for them in everything and it’s true. They have this wonderful aroma–not just citrus, but also heavily laden with all the spices that you’ve added to the brew. Their bright flavor complements the brininess of the anchovies (salt-packed, of course–it’s hard to go through a kilo of those guys, but I’ve been making a noble attempt) and the green onions adds some fresh vegetable flavor (but being onions, are strong enough to hold their own against the other flavor powerhouses).
Still rummaging in the fridge, I noticed some green grapes. I had mozzarella (still!) so I layered this on the final round of dough and spread some of the sliced grapes all over. Because the mozzarella was so mild, it was a good base for a dessert pizza. I felt like I should sprinkle some sort of spice on top, but lacking a better idea, went for cinnamon. Who knows if it was the ideal spice, but it worked well enough.