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Cooking with Myhrvold and Migoya's Modernist Pizza


Chris Hennes
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Modernist Pizza (eG-friendly Amazon.com link) is finally here; it's time to start cooking from it (other discussion about the book can be found in this topic). Overall they say the book contains something like 1100 recipes, though I don't know how they are counting the usual Modernist-style parametric recipes and their combinatorial-ness. At any rate, it's huge. I am currently baking in a fairly standard home convection oven, with a pizza steel, so I thought I'd start with pizzas that are best baked at the temperatures that oven can reach (550°F).

 

The very first "assembly" recipe they offer in their "Classics" chapter is for a "Thin Crust Sausage and Cheese Pizza", so that's where I'm kicking things off. The primary recipe for this dough starts with a poolish:

DSC_1278.jpg

 

The dough is pretty normal except for the inclusion of cornmeal at about 10%. It's mixed to full gluten formation, bench-rested for 20 minutes, then divided and balled. I'm using 200g portions to make 13-inch pizzas (smaller than the norm for this style, but all that will fit in my oven comfortably). This can be proofed at room temperature for 2-3 hours, or cold-proofed for a day. I'm doing some of each:

DSC_1283.jpg

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Chris Hennes
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chennes@egullet.org

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Assembly Recipe

Sausage and Cheese Thin-Crust Pizza (KM p. 191)

 

This is composed of their standard thin-crust pizza dough (today's was cold-proofed for a couple of hours then allowed to come to room temp before baking), their Thin-Crust Pizza Tomato Sauce (100% crushed tomatoes, 25% tomato puree, 1% dried oregano, 1.25% salt), low-moisture mozzarella, and Italian sausage (they provide a recipe, but I used a commercial product).

 

Here's that sauce:

20211001-DSC_1284.jpg

 

I was worried that the oregano would be overwhelming at 1% (which is way more than I put in when I'm just eyeballing it, it turns out), but it wasn't offensive, it was just very present.

 

All the ingredients prepped for two pizzas:

20211001-DSC_1288.jpg

 

It looked to me like it was going to be pretty low on sauce (and it is) but the proportion actually worked great on the finished pizza, so I guess one point to MP. The dough can be shaped a number of ways, I rolled mine:

20211001-DSC_1306.jpg

 

Sauced:

20211001-DSC_1307.jpg

 

Topped:

20211001-DSC_1308.jpg

 

In the oven at 480°F (home oven, convection) for about five minutes:

20211001-DSC_1298.jpg

 

20211001-DSC_1309.jpg

 

It holds shape pretty well:

20211001-DSC_1302.jpg

 

Minimal gel layer:

20211001-DSC_1304.jpg

 

Let's be honest, this is a sort of hard-to-screw-up pizza. I used good ingredients, and the proportions were good, so of course it was delicious! The crust was pretty crispy, but I'm definitely looking forward both to tomorrow's (which will have an extra day of cold proofing), as well as trying the Modernist variant of this dough, which has polydextrose in it to increase the crispness.

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Chris Hennes
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chennes@egullet.org

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3 hours ago, FlashJack said:

Is the basic Neapolitan dough in MP any different from that at KM p326 of MB?

Yes, they are completely different. In MP they have six different "Neapolitan" doughs, including the "official" AVPN recipe, a high-hydration Modernist version, an "emergency" direct dough, and a poolish-based dough. And that's not counting the flavor variations, etc. that appear later in the books.

Edited by Chris Hennes (log)
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Chris Hennes
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chennes@egullet.org

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17 hours ago, Chris Hennes said:

Yes, they are completely different.

Thanks Chris. I was wondering if the Neapolitan master recipe KMp326 has changed. I've had good but not outstanding results with that dough. I'm hoping it's been revised for the better.

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This is a repeat of last night's pizza, but the dough has one more day of cold-proofing (well, and I reduced the amount of sausage and added green peppers):

20211002-DSC_1317.jpg

 

The crust had a great flavor, but its texture was a bit chewier than last nights (I think... obviously I am not doing a literal side-by-side comparison). I preferred last night's, by a narrow margin.

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Chris Hennes
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chennes@egullet.org

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3 hours ago, Chris Hennes said:

The crust had a great flavor, but its texture was a bit chewier than last nights (I think... obviously I am not doing a literal side-by-side comparison). I preferred last night's, by a narrow margin


I find the longer I let a dough ferment in the fridge, the chewier it gets.  After the 3rd or 4th day, it’s not really my favorite pizza dough at all.

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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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What flour are you using?  They give VERY specific recommendations - likely talk about it in more detail someplace else in the books - but I've not gotten there yet.  (I have read the alternates, but they are pretty darn specific either, none of this is available in our local grocery stores.)

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1 hour ago, Raamo said:

What flour are you using?

For this dough I used King Arthur Organic All-Purpose (11.7% protein), because that's my normal bread flour. They recommend Ceresota Unbleached Forever All Purpose Flour (eG-friendly Amazon.com link) for this dough. As usual, their chapter on ingredients delves into great detail about flour, and in this particular case I doubt I'm going to be able to discern a difference. But obviously in the interest of science I have to test that, I feel morally obligated to make this pizza again (did I mention it was delicious?).

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Chris Hennes
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31 minutes ago, Chris Hennes said:

For this dough I used King Arthur Organic All-Purpose (11.7% protein), because that's my normal bread flour. They recommend Ceresota Unbleached Forever All Purpose Flour (eG-friendly Amazon.com link) for this dough. As usual, their chapter on ingredients delves into great detail about flour, and in this particular case I doubt I'm going to be able to discern a difference. But obviously in the interest of science I have to test that, I feel morally obligated to make this pizza again (did I mention it was delicious?).

 

Thanks - I should figure out what the two I have are.  I need to figure out which dough we like best before I shell out for 25 lbs of flour :)

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Ok my bread flour is 12% protein, I'm going to try making the flat crust pizza this weekend.  I'll try and take pictures to post here of the process so we'll see how we compare :)

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Modernist Thin Crust Pizza Dough

 

Well, chalk tonight's pizzas up as a "learning experience." It was not an abject failure (we did still eat the pizza!), but definitely not a success. I was making the Modernist variant of the Thin-Crust pizza dough. It's basically the same as the regular, with added polydextrose for crispness, and a dough relaxer to make life miserable to make the dough roll easier. So the additional polydextrose is an incremental improvement: the dough was a small bit crispier. My relaxer of choice is usually bromelain: I've got a jar of it cut 1000:1 with flour to make it possible to measure on a normal scale. The recipe calls for 0.0005% bromelain (there are some other relaxer options that can be using in slightly less absurd quantities, but I already had the bromelain, and I've worked with it before). As far as I am aware, I scaled everything correctly, and measured correctly when producing the dough. And the dough did work nicely, it was very easy to roll out. But either it lacked the strength necessary to actually slide off the peel intact, or I lack the skill with the peel to make it do so. I had to be really sharp with it, which made all the toppings shift on the first pizza, and the second pizza was just a train wreck. To be honest, I'm not a fan of the relaxer in this application, I don't think the dough really needs it. So although I'll keep the polydextrose addition, I'm sticking with the normal thin crust recipe otherwise.

 

This is the La Quercia pepperoni -- it's a very thinly-sliced product, so by weight that's really not much pepperoni.

20211005-DSC_1320.jpg

 

The first pizza was sort of OK. The toppings shifted, but it was not a total catastrophe:

20211005-DSC_1328.jpg

 

The second pizza, on the other hand...

20211005-DSC_1334.jpg

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Chris Hennes
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chennes@egullet.org

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I wonder if a different peel (metal) might work better for some of these pies?

 

ETA:  There must be a chapter on equipment - so what do they suggest in terms of a peel, oven setup, etc.?

Edited by weinoo (log)

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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13 hours ago, weinoo said:

I wonder if a different peel (metal) might work better for some of these pies?

 

ETA:  There must be a chapter on equipment - so what do they suggest in terms of a peel, oven setup, etc.?

Totally possible: I've only ever used a wooden peel, and that's all I've got at the moment. We'll see how things develop as I move onto higher-heat pizzas. Regarding their recommendations, they have extensive discussion on ovens, for sure: which oven is best depends on which style of pizza you are making. I don't recall them having too much to say about peels, except to note that there are different kinds.

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Chris Hennes
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Repeating last night's dough, but with one more day of age on it. As expected, it was much easier to work with tonight, as the effect of the relaxer decays over time. A more creditable pizza-looking pizza resulted, with the toppings more or less where I put them in the first place:

20211006-DSC_1336.jpg

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Chris Hennes
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chennes@egullet.org

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