Sourdough Pizza “a taglio” Style

“A taglio” (ah TAH-lee-O) is the style of pizza sold throughout Rome.  Baked and displayed in large sheet pans, you pay for a slice cut to order.   There’s a lot to like about this dough.  For beginner’s this is an easy dough to mix.  It’s also extremely versatile.  Top it with just olive oil and salt and it makes a great focaccia.  Or add grapes and you get a version of schicciata a’ll uva. Cut the dough in half horizontally and say hello to great bread for a sandwich.  Whatever you do, it will be hard not eat it all when it comes out of the oven.

Purists will note that this formula does include a small amount of yeast.  If you live in a cold climate or are new to working with sourdough, this small amount of yeast will help the dough to get a good final rise. As you gain confidence working with this formula, feel free to omit the yeast.

 

Ingredients:

450g Bread Flour (preferably King Arthur)

50g Whole Wheat flour

400g Tepid water (80% hydration)

100g Sourdough Starter (20%)

15g Sea salt (3%)

1.25g Lesaffre Saf-Instant yeast (.25%)

 

  1. Feed starter the night before you want to mix the dough.
  2. The following morning in a medium bowl add water followed by the starter.  The starter should float.  Next add both flours.  Mix by hand or with a spatula until a very shaggy dough forms.  There should be no loose flour in the bowl.
  3. Let dough mixture sit in a warm spot (68º-73º) for 20 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle yeast over the dough and perform a fold.  Here is a video on how to do a fold.  Turn the dough 90º and repeat.   When you’ve done four folds and gone around the dough 360º you will have completed what is called “one turn”.  Add salt and perform two more turns (8 folds and gone around the dough 720º).
  5. Let dough sit for 30 minutes and then perform two turns.  Let dough rest for another 30 minutes.  Repeat process twice more with 30 minutes of rest time in between.
  6. After the dough has rested for a total of two hours and received 9 turns, it should look billowy, spring back when poked, and release easily from the bowl.  If not, give the dough another two turns and 30 minutes to rest, preferably in a warm location.
  7. Flour the surface of a large, wooden cutting board.  Dump the dough on the surface and gently stretch it into a rectangular shape facing you.  Placing your hands  under the bottom third of both sides of the rectangle, gently stretch the dough to create “wings” and then fold the wings back in the lower middle section of the dough.  Repeat the same process with the top third of the dough.  Using a bench scraper and starting at the bottom of the dough, roll it forward to create a ball.  Place the ball back in your bowl, cover and place in the refrigerator for 24 hours.  Can’t visualize what I’ve just written? No problem.  Here’s a link to help you out.
  8. Remove dough from refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour but up to 3 to remove the chill.
  9. Generously oil a heavy duty sheet pan (13″x 18″) with extra virgin olive oil.
  10. While removing the from bowl, stretch the dough into a rectangular shape and quickly place on the sheet pan.
  11. Gently pull the sides of the dough and stretch to fill the sheet pan.  The dough will pull back.  Let it sit for 10 minutes and stretch it again.  Be careful not to tear or excessively poke the dough.
  12. Heat your oven to 500º
  13. Once your dough has been fully stretched out on the sheet pan drizzle olive oil and salt over the top and then place in the oven.
  14. For pizza bake until the dough until it is lightly golden brown (roughly 8 minutes).  Remove from the oven, add sauce and toppings, then put back in the oven to finish baking (4-5 minutes).
  15. For focaccia or bread bake until dough is gold brown through out (10-14 minutes depending on the oven).

 

Wednesday Night Sourdough Pizza Formula

Eight years ago I opened a wood fired, sourdough crust pizzeria.  The restaurant didn’t work out, but the dough formula still lives on.  The original formula was developed by Sarah “Biggie” Lemke, a talented baker now working in Europe, who I had the brief pleasure of working with.  Last year I revisited her formula with the goal of creating a version anyone could make at home.  Here is the result. This formula yields a light sourdough flavored crust.  It’s compatible with tomato sauce based pizzas and children’s palates.  If you want a stronger flavored dough, shoot me an email and I’ll send you a new formula.  Typically, I make pizza for my family on Wednesday nights.  Feel free to modify the timing to whatever night of the week works for you.  

Ingredients:

1300g King Arthur (KA) Bread Flour

75g of Whole Wheat Flour

.35g  Lesafre Instant Red Yeast (IDY)

30g Sea Salt

10g Brown Sugar (or honey)

Olive Oil

Final Dough %

Flour 1000g (100%)

Poolish 400g (40%)

Starter 100g (10%)

Water 525g (52.5%)

Salt 30g (3%)

BrownSugar 10g (1%)

Monday night 8PM

  1. Remove Sourdough Starter from the fridge. Feed starter.  Mix 25g starter with 50g of tepid water and 50g starter feed mixture (1:1 ratio of whole wheat flour and bread flour)  Cover with a small kitchen towel and let sit overnight in a warm area (72º).

Tuesday morning 8AM

  1. Feed starter. Mix 50g of starter with 100g of tepid water and 100g starter feed mixture. Cover with a towel and let sit in a warm area (72º).
  2. Make Poolish. Mix 225g of KA bread flour with 225g of tepid water and .35g of Instant Dry Yeast.  Cover with a towel and let sit in a warm area (72º).

Tuesday night 8PM

  1. In a large bowl add 400g of Poolish with 100g of starter (save leftover starter in fridge). Add 500g of tepid water.  Break up starter and Poolish in the water.  Add 1000g of KA bread flour.  Mix until dough is shaggy but there is no loose flour.  Pinch unhydrated clumps of flour. 
  2. Allow shaggy mixture to sit for 30min covered with a towel
  3. (8:30PM) Sprinkle 10g of sugar and 30g of fine sea salt over dough.  Add 25g of tepid water. Perform one fold, then turn dough 90º. Perform another fold, turn another 90º.   Repeat this until you’ve done a total of 8 folds and have gone around the dough twice.  Let mixture sit for 30 minutes.
  4. (9:00PM)  Perform one fold, then turn dough 90º. Perform another fold, turn another 90º.   Repeat this until you’ve done a total of 8 folds and have gone around the dough twice.   Let mixture sit for another 30min
  5. (9:30PM) Perform one fold, then turn dough 90º. Perform another fold, turn another 90º.   Repeat this until you’ve done a total of 8 folds and have gone around the dough twice.  Flip and tuck in dough to create smoothe ball.  Drizzle a small amount of olive oil on the dough and rub into the face.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator. 

Wednesday morning 8AM

  1. Remove dough from the refrigerator, cut in six equal piece (225-300g). Ball dough.
  2. Dust dough balls with flour, then loosely wrap dough in plastic wrap and return to refrigerator. 

Wednesday afternoon 1PM

  1. Remove dough from the refrigerator, remove plastic wrap.  Place dough on a lightly floured wooden cutting board.  Cover dough with moist kitchen towel.  Let dough sit at warm room temperature (72º) for 4-6 hours.  Bake and enjoy! 

Grilled Pizza: Dough Recipe

Want to make amazing pizza at home? No need for a backyard brick oven. Grilled Pizza is where its at.

 

Its still summer.  You want to grill.

 

Here’s a simple formula for grilled pizza.  I did this last month for my in laws.  They loved it.  You will too.

 

1000g King Arthur All Purpose Flour

640g  Cold water

25g Sea Salt

5g Instant Dry Yeast

10g Extra Virgin Olive Oil

 

 

1. In a large bowl combine flour and yeast.  Mix for 20 seconds with a whisk.  Add water.  Mix by hand or with a wooden paddle until combined.  Do not over mix or knead.  Dough should be shaggy.  If the dough feels dry or there is an excess of flour left in the bowl after mixing, add a little water and mix until all of the flour is combined.  Cover with a damp towel and let sit for 20 minutes

 

2. Add salt. Perform your first fold.  A fold is a simple technique for mixing dough which relies more on time than physical effort.   To perform a fold pick a corner of the dough.   Lift the corner of the dough in the air and then “fold” it into the middle.  Here is a video.  Once you’ve done one fold, turn the bowl 90 degrees and do your next fold.  Do this for a total of four times until you are back to the corner where you started.  You have just completed one “turn” of your dough.  Four folds = one turn.  Let dough rest for 20 minutes.

 

3. Create a pocket in the dough with your finger and add oil.  Perform two turns (8 folds).  Try to keep as much of the oil in the dough.    Let dough rest for 20 minutes

 

4. Perform two more turns.  Dough should be smooth and elastic by this point.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.  Put it in the refrigerator and let it sit for at least 12 hours, but ideally for 18.  This is called a bulk ferment.  The dough should double in size by the time you go to the next step.

 

5. Take the dough out of the fridge.  Cut the dough into seven even sized clumps.  If you want to be really precise use a scale.  Now form the clumps into dough balls.

 

6. Put the dough balls on a sheet tray.  Leave 1-2 inches of space in between each dough ball.  Apply a drop of oil to each dough ball and rub it all over the surface.  This will help the dough from drying out during its final rise.  Cover dough with a towel let is rest in a warm spot in your kitchen or house.

 

7. Dough should be ready in 2-3 hours.  Be careful not to let dough overproof.  Dough is ready when it’s grown in volume, is room temperature and pliable.

 

In my next post I’ll have an in depth post on how grill pizzas.

 

 

 

 

The Foundation of Great Pizza Dough (Geeky)

Good pizza starts with good math.

Ok, I’ll admit it.  The subject of this post isn’t the most exciting.

But its important.

If you’re serious about making good pizza at home you need to weigh ingredients.  And work with Baker’s Percentages.

Let me explain.

Weight is Best

Professional bakers and pizzaiuolos don’t measure ingredients by volume.

Scooping ingredients into a cup is both messy and inaccurate.

Flour, for example, settles.  This means that the weight of one cup of sifted flour is different than non sifted.

Then there is the issue of where to measure.  Do you measure to the line on your measuring cup? Or just above it?  Are the ingredients flush or mounding? It’s never exactly the same.

To accurately measure ingredients, weight is better than volume.  Hands down.

Sadly, not all weight systems are the same.  Metric (grams) is more precise to work with than Imperial (ounces).   Let me show you why.

1 pound (Imperial) = 16 ounces (Imperial) or 16 units of measure per pound

1 pound (Imperial) = 454 grams (Metric) or 454 units of measure per pound

Yes, there are scales which measure in fractions of an ounce.  But most don’t.

And then there’s the fact that the entire professional baking world works in Metric.  If it’s good enough for them, it should be good for you.

2. The language of dough

Pick up a good pizza or bread book and you will quickly notice a few things.  Recipes are called “formulas”.  Formulas are written using grams or kilograms.  And ingredients are listed with a percentage next to them.  This last point might seem strange, but it’s actually the language of bakers.  It’s called “Baker’s Percentages”.  Yes, not the most creative name, but easy to remember.

What the heck is this and why is it so important?

Pizza dough has relatively few ingredients.  In it simplest form flour, water and salt is all you need.  Because the ingredient list is short, the relationship of the ingredients to one another is extremely important.  Baker’s percentages is a method of writing recipes that describes this relationship.

This is done by listing each ingredient as a percentage of the total weight of flour.

For beginners, this can be confusing to understand.

The cardinal rule for working with Baker’s Percentages is to use the weight of the flour as the benchmark for calculating the formula.  NOT the combined weight of the ingredients.

This means flour is always 100% of the formula regardless of the weight.

So let’s say you have a recipe which calls for 1000g of flour, 650g of water and 20g of salt.

Translate this recipe into Baker’s Percentages and this is what the formula looks like:

Flour: 100%

Water: 65%

Salt: 2%

In the example above I’ve made the flour weight 1000g to make the math easy.

To calculate the water percentage divide the weight of the flour (1000g) by the weight of the water (650g).  650/1000 = 65%

Do the same to get the salt percentage.  20/1000 = 2%

Voila!

[If this still seems confusing check out a few more examples at the end of this post.]

Once you start working with Baker’s Percentages you quickly start to see the advantages.

First, its easier to write new dough recipes when you’re thinking about how ingredients relate to each other instead of in isolation.  The water to flour percentage, for example, is a such crucial relationship there’s even a term for it: “Dough Hydration”.

Second, Baker’s Percentages allows one to easily scale a recipe up or down and still be sure of having good results.

This means I can develop new dough formulas by testing small batches, but quickly calculate larger production batches when needed.

Let me show you.

Here’s a formula I’m currently working on.

[Since I’m using multiple flours, all of the flours have to add up to 100%.]

 

High Gluten Flour: 40%

High Extraction Flour: 50%

Whole Wheat Flour: 10%

Water: 65%

Salt: 3%

Yeast: .5%

Oil: 2%

 

Here’s how I calculate a small test batch formula using 2Kg (2000g) of flour.

 

High Gluten Flour:  2000 x .40 = 800g

High Extraction Flour: 2000 x .50 = 1000g

Whole Wheat Flour: 2000 x .10 = 200g

Water: 2000 x .65 = 1300g

Salt: 2000 x .03 = 60g

Yeast: 2000 x .005 = 10g

Oil: 2000 x .02 = 40g

When the time comes to make a large production batch, I plug in the new weight of the flour (could be 11Kg, 22Kg or even 44Kg) and then perform the exact math.

Make sense?

Ok, that enough for today.   As always, email me your questions.

 

 

Additional Baker’s Percentages Examples:

 

#1

White Flour: 10000g  (100%)

Water: 6000g (60%)

Yeast: 30g (.3%)

Salt: 200g (2%)

Malt: 100g (1%)

 

#2

White Flour: 900g (90%)

Whole Wheat Flour: 100g (10%)

Water: 600g (60%)

Sourdough Starter: 200g (20%)

Yeast: 2g (.2%)

Salt: 20g (2%)

Oil: 15g (1.5%)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tools to Make Great Pizza at Home

If you want to make great pizza at home, you need the right tools for the job.

Fortunately, the list isn’t long or super expensive.  In fact, you can buy the basics for less than the cost of take out from your local hipster pizza joint.

Here’s what you need:

BASICS

1. Scale 

Water, flour, leavening and salt.  These are the building blocks for making great pizza.  Because we are working with so few ingredients, we need to be precise with the quantity of each ingredient in our dough formula.  This is especially true when you’re making pizza at home.   The smaller the batch, the smaller the margin of error.  So, to ensure accuracy we need to weigh out our ingredients.

I don’t care how good you are measuring ingredients with a cup or spoon.  It you want to make awesome pizza you need a scale.

Screw volume.  Focus on weight.  It’s what professional bakers and pizzaiolos do.  You can do it too.

A small digital scale, preferably one that measures in .01 gram units, costs $15.  Buy one.

2. Cast iron pan

I know you own a pizza stone.  If you absolutely have to use it, go for it.

But here’s the truth about pizza stones:  They are a great trivet.   Or for roasting a chicken.  For making great pizza at home use a cast iron pan instead.

Cast iron has two clear advantages.

First, the heavy steel absorbs and distributes heat better than the stone.  A pizza stone, depending on the thickness, requires a least a one hour preheat for it to achieve the desired heat.  Cast iron pan? 20-30 minutes.

If you’re only making one pizza, this difference may not be a big deal.  But if you plan on making multiple pizzas, this is where cast iron really shines.

Not only is the recovery time on cast iron quicker, but you can “cheat” and heat it on the stove top over a hot flame.  I do this all the time and it works great.

The second advantage of a cast iron pan is the shape.  The flared sides reflect heat directly on your crust (a.k.a cornicione).  Your flat pizza stone doesn’t.

Added bonus to the flared sides: You can squirt water against them to instantly create steam and achieve an extra crispy crust.

3. Bench scraper

This is an indispensable tool for anyone who works with dough.  It’s also great for cleaning up.  I like these so much, I have two at home.  And I give them as Christmas presents.

4. Thermometer

Time and temperature are the “secret” ingredients for great pizza.

Unless you are spending time around hard core pizza geeks you won’t read much about temperature in the average home pizza dough recipe.

If you’re just starting out I recommend taking the temperature of your core ingredients.  It only takes 30 seconds and can help you avoid making overblown down.   Or dough that takes forever to rise.   More on this later.

5. Large Wooden Cutting board

Whether its for stretching dough or letting my pizza dough balls rest before baking them, I like using a wooden cutting board.  Wood absorbs moisture which can be helpful.  I also like the feel of stretching dough on wood.

6. Heavy Duty Sheet Pan

For making a taglio sheet pan pizza or focaccia you will need a good heavy duty sheet pan.  When I say “heavy duty”, I mean something that is thick and heavy enough to be used as a weapon if need be.

 

PRO

1. Good oven. 

There’s no way around this one.  If you have a shitty oven it will be nearly impossible to bake a great pizza.

Don’t despair.  You don’t need a 10K Wolf convection oven.

A decent oven that can achieve at least 550 degrees and can maintain that temperature is fine.

If access to a good oven is not an option, but a grill is, go with the grill.

2. Temperature gun

Ok, this item isn’t crucial, but it’s helpful.

Prices have also come way down.  Ten years ago a decent “temp gun” cost a few hundred dollars.  Today you can buy one for $50-$70.

Taking the temperature of your oven and surface of your cast iron pan helps you figure out the “perfect” temperature range for baking pizzas.   Once you know the temperature your baking surface needs to achieve, it’s much easier to consistently bake multiple pies just right.

3. Proofing box

If you live in a cold climate as I do, having a proofing box is very helpful.  Especially if you’re working with sourdough starter.  A decent proofing box will cost $170, so not cheap.  But if you’re baking every week, be it pizza or bread, then the investment is worth it.

For McGyver wannabes or those on a tight budget, good news.  There are many DIY options on the internet.

4. Grain Mill

Go down the rabbit hole far enough and it won’t be long before you want to mill your own flour.  This will be a pricey habit.  Counter top grain mills start at $300 and can cost as much as a plane ticket to Europe.  You’ve been warned.

***********

Ok, that’s it.

Questions? Having trouble sourcing one of the items above? Think I’m missing something?

Feel free to send me an email –  ian.gurfield@ianspizza.com