The good news/bad news story of an American flour that will change your homemade pizza and change your life. (At least for a moment.)
“A blog post about flour? Hey, exciting! Way to get everyone all worked up on a Saturday afternoon!
“Come quick! Look! He’s writing about flour! This may never happen again! Get the kids! Oh, the humanity! Dogs and cats living together!”
I promise you, I would not be bringing up a subject like flour unless it was a life-changing proposition on a par with, say, trying a new shampoo or using a new brand of motor oil.
What's the secret sauce, sausage and/or cheesy goodness that lights a fire in The Pizza-Freak Fellowship?
It's 5:47 AM. I know this because I checked the clock. I've been lying here for only the briefest of moments, but the feeling is one I recognize.
It’s the feeling of being a kid on Christmas morning. But instead of stockings hung by the chimney with care and speculations about what glossy, blister-packed plastic stash I'm about to haul in, I'm thinking about that doughball I put in the fridge last night, and what it's about to become.
What the heck is it about pizza?
Pizza Prousti: In the spirit of Proust's madeleine, pizza peeps from across the spectrum dish their pizza of memory...
This is a rather long blog post with a lot of great things written by several people who are much smarter than I am. If you'd prefer to read it as a PDF download, just click here.
What do a few famous pizza people have to say about pizza of their memories? It's kinda fascinating--and you might find yourself playing along.
A few weeks ago, I shared a story about King Of Pizza in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. It’s a pizza of my wife’s youth, and is a pizza that triggers all kinds of pizza-related memories of her youth.
We framed the experience in the literary metaphor of Proust's Madeleine. This metaphor springs from the novel In Search Of Lost Time. In the book (which spans a mere seven volumes and 1.5 million words), that little, seashell-shaped French sponge cake known as the madeleine triggers a long-ago memory for the narrator.
A classic literary food metaphor was born--and most Americans have probably never heard of it. Hello, American system of education!
When homemade pizza gone wrong tastes right, but don't try this at home. Just do this one brainless thing instead.
I just made a pizza the wrong way and it was magnificent.
I made it using the not-quite Neapolitan dough recipe in Free The Pizza: A Simple System For Making Great Pizza Whenever You Want With The Oven You Already Have.
I'm eating it right now in fact. I'm drinking my fresh morning coffee (an Italian roast), the birds are singing, and I’m eating one of the tastiest cold pizza slices ever.
Yeast Of Eden: Should you be making homemade pizza with plain old commercial yeast, or the most expensive, Italian-born sugar fungus?
Have you begun traveling online in the realm of homemade pizza? If so, you’re probably finding much holy blather about the most blessed of ingredients of the pizza-making religion.
One such dictate of the blindly righteous is “Thou shalt use only Caputo 00 flour.” While Caputo has its place, that dictate is untrue. It really depends on what kind of pizza you’re trying to make.
Other such assertions include wood fire as the only worthy source of BTUs, fresh mozzarella as the only worthy cheese, and DOP San Marzano tomatoes as the only worthy fruit of the vine.
Poppycock, codswallop and fiddle faddle! (None of which should ever be used as a pizza topping. Unless, of course, you can find any of them in the proper artisan organic version.)
What if Marcel Proust had a pizza instead of a sponge cake? Would things would be very different and might you care about his voluminous novels in French?
This brief lesson in French literature is connected to pizza, I promise.
You’ve probably seen that little French sponge cake that’s shaped like a seashell and known as a madeleine. In French literature, the madeleine is a metaphor for triggering nostalgia or an involuntary memory.
It stems from Marcel Proust’s seven-volume novel, In Search of Lost Time. (It was originally translated in English as Remembrance Of Things Past. You might remember that. Or not.)
The story’s narrator has only one memory of his childhood home. But one day, while tasting a madeleine dipped in tea, he is swept up by a nostalgic, childhood memory of having a tea-dipped madeleine with his invalid aunt.
There's nothing plain about plain cheese pizza. It's a pizza where nothing can hide. And when you do it right, people's heads explode.
I’m going to get grief for this, and that’s OK. You can believe me or not.
I have a foodie friend who’s eaten about a dozen of my pizzas in recent years. A few weeks ago, she took a bite of a plain cheese pizza I’d just made. She said, “Oh, my. Of all of your pizzas, I think this is my favorite.”
I made the same pizza again a week later and she was there. She took a bite and just groaned. Her husband took a bite and said, “This is incredible.” (The actual pizza we're talking about is the one in the photo up top: a 15-inch homemade pizza baked on steel in an old DCS home oven.)
As a home pizza maker, one of the smartest things you can do is master the plain cheese pizza. It’s such a simple pizza, some consider it not worth the effort.
Every homemade pizza is personal--and that's not about the size. Pizza is about the people in your life. (Plus, a sausage recipe.)
Here’s a warning: In this one, we’re going to be talking a lot about men making sausage.
Get all your snickering and Freudian sausage jokes out of the way now. And if you can’t do that, just leave. This is not that kind of blog. (Well not today, anyway. Probably.)
Today, the story is about Wayne. He’s been an enthusiastic pizzamaker since the beginning of Free The Pizza. He’s written fan mail about the book. He’s even sent along pizza pics.
Clearly, for him, making pizza is a joy.
Homemade pizza burnt alert! Can you char like the pros, how much char is too much--and why is it such a battle?
Let’s be clear: When you make pizza, char happens. Especially if you’re doing it the way I recommend in my book Free The Pizza. I’m a big proponent of what's known as "the broiler method" for baking pizza. But why do some folks feel that char is a war to be fought far and wide?
Using the broiler technique gives your home oven thermodynamic characteristics similar to those of a professional pizza deck oven. And with a little practice, the result is a pizza that people love.
Char is one result of the Maillard reaction. This is the chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars in cooking food. It results in (get ready) melanoidins! These are "high molecular weight heterogeneous polymers." (Yes, this will be on the quiz.) Melanoidins taste great, and you enjoy them on all kinds of foods, from pan-fried dumplings to well-seared steaks. In the Maillard process, char is a step past brown before we get to burnt.
But what about char on pizza? Do people love that? I believe so. But what is char? When is it a Maillard too far? If you’re making homemade pizza in a standard home oven, there’s a chance you don’t encounter char. That’s especially true if you’re using the bake setting only.
Mr. Bill’s Mighty Meaty Madness With Mushrooms--wild & crazy picture of a homemade pizza non-recipe you can make.
Last week, I created a pizza called Mr. Bill’s Mighty Meaty Madness With Mushrooms. It’s a tribute to Bill, a friend of ours who likes a meat-forward pizza.
Would you like the recipe? I don’t have one. And this makes people crazy. I don’t have codified recipes. I contend that pizza is not recipes. Pizza is practice.
Making pizza is not a one-time thing. You have to first learn the process of how to make a basic dough recipe, and then turn it into a pizza. Once you do that, you become a practitioner of pizza.
I can give you the closest thing I have to a recipe for Mr. Bill’s Mighty Meaty Madness With Mushrooms. And that is showing you how I developed it. (If you already know how to make pizza, you can jump ahead to the non-recipe at the bottom of this tale.)
Blaine Parker is the award-winning author of the bestselling, unusual and amusing how-to pizza book, Free The Pizza. Also known as The Pizza Geek and "Hey, Pizza Man!", Blaine is fanatical about the idea that true, pro-quality pizza can be made at home. His home. Your home. Anyone's home. After 20 years of honing his craft and making pizza in standard consumer ovens across the nation, he's sharing what he's learned with home cooks like you. Are you ready to pizza?
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