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Cooking with Myhrvold and Migoya's Modernist Pizza


Chris Hennes
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Ok we made a thin crust pizza..  First time we've ever made something like this at home.  #2 should hopefully go better.

 

So last night I started a potash:

20211007_220014.thumb.jpg.ebb7dd4fcc65e79c32149e8b841a5140.jpg

 

Done this plenty for making bread, Was unsure about the 12-16 hours, I used it at the 15 hour mark - I'm sure I could have waited an hour.

 

So I mixed up the dough and it went fine:

20211008_134052.thumb.jpg.dbcc8eeb2dc52656871625150d77edb6.jpg

 

It's resting it's 20 mins

 

Now it's time to divide it up.  I got 275 in each, except the 4th is a little short.

20211008_134730.thumb.jpg.58b6b1f6b29cb0900a91372e0ad6301f.jpg

 

I liked the idea of using these size Pyrex dishes - thanks Chris - the 2 red ones are new.  The other two are decades old.

 

So 1 was left out to proof at room temp - which was 76f, so it was done too fast, I 4 edge folded it and moved it to a cooler place in the house.

 

While it proofed I made the sauce:

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That is 8g of dried Oregano, it does look like a LOT!  I based everything else off a 28oz can of crushed tomatoes.  Once stirred in it was fine.

 

We used a rolling pin, I don't roll much out - so tomorrow my wife will try, it ended up a 14-15" square (size of our peal)  we had some issues getting it off the peal.  Lesson - lots of semolina isn't enough - USE MORE.    The normal dough we make is not rolled out - so it doesn't need as much.

 

The finished baked pizza:

 

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It's not square and some of the sausage escaped.  We used the normal amount of cheese we use on our traditional pizza (~50g) but turns out we should use a bit more - my side is always way less cheesed then my wife's.  I pre cooked the sausage - and we added red pepper (not in the traditional recipe)

 

It's VERY thin compared to the new york style we normally have.  Nice and crunchy - It seems to be a similar thickness to what is intended - we just made a square instead of a circle.  And the sauce is really good - it's way looser then the stuff we normally do - but it works.

 

Tomorrow we make 2 pizzas - my brother and his wife are visiting.  4th pizza will be Sunday.

 

I'll skip the modernist version of thin crust - Chris's pain is enough for me.  I'm sure we'll master this normal version as we work to use all the sauce I made today.  (I'll partial it out into 4x pizza amounts and vacuum seal / freeze)

 

I had a nice glass of Sonoma county Zinfandel with it.  I'm convinced the big Z's make good pizza wine.

 

 

 

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Detroit-Style Red-Top Pizza (KM p. 234)

 

This is a basic cheese "Detroit"-style pizza. The Detroit dough is a direct dough with 85% bread flour and 15% semolina, a very small amount of sugar (1.39%) and about 70% hydration. The Modernist variant adds a dough relaxer, which seems like a pretty obvious improvement for a pizza baked in a pan, so I added it.

 

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The astronomical amount of cheese is mostly Wisconsin Brick cheese (225g on a 500g 10in x 14in crust) plus 110g pizza cheese.

 

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The pizza is baked without the sauce:

 

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The Detroit sauce is made from a blend of canned whole tomatoes, canned crushed tomatoes, and canned tomato sauce, plus salt, oregano, and olive oil. It's added in stripes (I just used a spoon) after baking:

 

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Overall the taste was good: I was surprised by how piquant the Wisconsin Brick Cheese is. I've never had it before, and was honestly not expecting that much in the way of flavor given its sort of generic name. But when you buy a 5# chunk of it, it does indeed come looking like a brick, so I guess the name makes sense! My one objection is that I feel like the cheese was overcooked by the time the dough was done. In fact, I'd probably have cooked the dough a bit longer still. They provide a recipe for a variation where you bake the crust entirely separately, then rebake to melt the cheese. I may try that next, I think it might improve on the texture.

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Chris Hennes
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chennes@egullet.org

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@Chris Hennes  

 

that looks fabulous

 

my kind of pizza.   oblong 'pan 'pizza was 

 

popular in th N.End BOS  some time ago

 

when i used to wonder around.  sold out

 

instantaneously when school let out.

 

does MP mention ' Block Cheese ? '

 

I guess its a local ( Detroit ? ) name for brick cheese :

 

https://www.jsonline.com/story/entertainment/dining/carol-deptolla/2021/04/05/detroit-style-pizza-shines-spotlight-wisconsins-brick-cheese/4808674001/

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12 hours ago, Chris Hennes said:

20211010-DSC_1347.jpg


Nice crumb structure ! You refer to a straight dough, so this is a long (cold ?) rise in the pan ..?

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On 10/11/2021 at 7:54 AM, Duvel said:

Nice crumb structure ! You refer to a straight dough, so this is a long (cold ?) rise in the pan ..?

In a "direct" dough there is no pre-ferment (poolish, biga, levain, etc.). It's just a ~3 hr proof right in its pan.

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Chris Hennes
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I had another "learning experience" today. This one was not particularly edible.

 

In the section on Detroit pizza they have a variant in which you pre-bake the crust, then some time later (hours, days, even weeks if frozen) you top it with the cheese and bake to melt. So last night I made the crust:

 

20211012-DSC_1349.jpg

 

Right, so the problems started right away. Overproofed? Overbaked? Yes to both, most likely. The dough actually pulled away from the sides of the pan, which I've never seen before: I suspect overproofing to be the main suspect here. I baked at the low end of the baking time scale, but I also think it's probably overbaked. Well, pressing forward... the cheese:

 

20211012-DSC_1350.jpg

 

This is Detroit style, so it's a lot of it. And you can guess where it's going to end up:

 

20211012-DSC_1355.jpg

 

So on the plus side, the cheese tasted better today because it wasn't overcooked. On the downside, the crust was nearly inedible, and the cheese didn't get crispy edges. The crust was weird-textured, too chewy, and basically unpleasant. This baking schedule is too convenient for me to just give up, but it was not a great start for the pre-baked crust school of pizza making.

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Chris Hennes
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chennes@egullet.org

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On 10/3/2021 at 1:36 PM, weinoo said:

I wonder how many times I can go out for pizza for the cost of the books + 25 lbs. of flour?

This is a New Yorker conundrum for sure. Years ago I was neck deep in trying to make decent pizze, and then Roberta's opened up a 10 minute walk from my kitchen. End pizza experiment. 

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Raclette Pizza (KM p. 305)

 

This one is in their collection of "interesting" toppings (e.g. not the classics chapter). The sauce is just crème fraîche, the cheese is Raclette, and the other toppings are roasted potato slices and caramelized onions. There was supposed to be parsley, but I'm out, so no greenery on mine tonight. They suggest this on their thin crust, which is what I did. It was delicious, though I'd probably have preferred more substantial potato slices. They instruct to slice "thin", but that's a pretty wide range when you're talking about a potato.

 

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Chris Hennes
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chennes@egullet.org

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15 hours ago, Chris Hennes said:

Raclette Pizza (KM p. 305)

 

This one is in their collection of "interesting" toppings (e.g. not the classics chapter). The sauce is just crème fraîche, the cheese is Raclette, and the other toppings are roasted potato slices and caramelized onions. There was supposed to be parsley, but I'm out, so no greenery on mine tonight. They suggest this on their thin crust, which is what I did. It was delicious, though I'd probably have preferred more substantial potato slices. They instruct to slice "thin", but that's a pretty wide range when you're talking about a potato.

 

20211014-DSC_1357.jpg

 

20211014-DSC_1358.jpg

 

20211014-DSC_1359.jpg

 

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Reminds me of an Alsace pizza - but that one didn't have the potatoes - just a lot of caramelized shallots, cheese (don't remember teh type but it definitely wasn't mozzarella) and creme fraiche...

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Just now, weinoo said:

That one looks good, Hennes.

 

@KennethT - Comté, Tomme, Munster - there are so many delicious cheeses from that region.

Yeah.  Years ago, we had a friend who was a sommelier at Cafe D'Alsace so we went to visit her... they did a great version of it but I don't remember which cheese(s) they used.

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@Chris Hennes 

 

that pizza looks stunning

 

and thinking about the flavors

 

im sure tasted might good

 

Im a fan of ' white ' pizza  from time to time

 

some of the best pizza's Ive had were white.

 

Reds very very close .

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On 10/3/2021 at 12:44 PM, Chris Hennes said:

For this dough I used King Arthur Organic All-Purpose (11.7% protein), because that's my normal bread flour. ... and in this particular case I doubt I'm going to be able to discern a difference.

 

I stopped using King Arthur flours for pizza and switched to All-Trumps Bleached & Bromated and Caputo 00.   The change completely transformed the flavor and texture of my pizzas.  Also, curious if the book did a comparison with and without using a roller? 

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Margherita Pizza (KM p. 203)

 

OK, enough goofing around, it's time to get serious and pick some fights! I finally had time today to set up my new Ooni Koda.

 

While with every pizza style out there you can find advocates and haters, I doubt any style of pizza inspires more passion (and more vitriol!) than Neapolitan. Obviously Modernist Pizza spends a great deal of time talking about the pizzas, pizza-makers, and marketing organization behind this style, and of course they have some opinions about it all. But actually, when push comes to shove their baseline recipe hews pretty close to what you'd expect, and they do indeed recommend cooking it at 850°F.

 

The dough is direct, sort of: although it doesn't have a pre-ferment, in a way the whole thing is a pre-ferment: the base recipe calls for just a tiny fraction of a teaspoon of yeast, and bulk proofs at room temperature for 20-24 hours. They recommend a few different 00 flours: I used Caputo Red, because that's what I have. It's a 62.3% hydration dough, with 2% salt. It tastes very good, even with my rank-beginner pizza-baking skills. Of course, more practice is necessary. Damn ;).

 

20211015-DSC_1372.jpg

 

The one thing about their margherita recipe that I thought was a bit off was the sauce quantity. The sauce is very thin (as expected for something cooked at this temperature), it's just a can of whole tomatoes, driven through a food mill and seasoned with 1% salt. Their assembly recipe calls for a 250g dough ball, stretched to 12", and topped with 120g of sauce, 250g of cheese, and a bit of basil (which they want under the cheese). That much sauce made for a very soupy pizza, however:

 

20211015-DSC_1373.jpg

 

So for the second pizza a only used about 2/3 of that (I didn't measure though):

 

20211015-DSC_1374.jpg

 

I thought that was closer to my ideal sauce amount. Both pizzas were delicious, of course: this is another one that's really pretty hard to screw up so badly that it doesn't taste good. Always room to improve, of course! They suggest baking at 850°F, but when I measured the back corner of my oven it was actually hovering around 950°F, so I was probably actually a bit hotter than ideal. I will continue working on it :) .

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Chris Hennes
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10 minutes ago, Chris Hennes said:

The one thing about their margherita recipe that I thought was a bit off was the sauce quantity. The sauce is very thin (as expected for something cooked at this temperature), it's just a can of whole tomatoes, driven through a food mill and seasoned with 1% salt.

Adding a splash of olive oil, this has essentially been my "go-to" sauce for 20 years.  

eGullet member #80.

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this seems to be the pizza they make a demo video.

 

they mention the consistency of the sauce 

 

is quite loose  , and the high heat

 

evaporates some of it.

 

but their oven might be different than yours.

 

in their video they raised the pizza on it peel 

 

for a few seconds at the end

 

to finish the top.

 

very interesting.

 

might be tough to do in an O.K.

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12 hours ago, Chris Hennes said:

Margherita Pizza (KM p. 203)

 

OK, enough goofing around, it's time to get serious and pick some fights! I finally had time today to set up my new Ooni Koda.

 

While with every pizza style out there you can find advocates and haters, I doubt any style of pizza inspires more passion (and more vitriol!) than Neapolitan. Obviously Modernist Pizza spends a great deal of time talking about the pizzas, pizza-makers, and marketing organization behind this style, and of course they have some opinions about it all. But actually, when push comes to shove their baseline recipe hews pretty close to what you'd expect, and they do indeed recommend cooking it at 850°F.

 

The dough is direct, sort of: although it doesn't have a pre-ferment, in a way the whole thing is a pre-ferment: the base recipe calls for just a tiny fraction of a teaspoon of yeast, and bulk proofs at room temperature for 20-24 hours. They recommend a few different 00 flours: I used Caputo Red, because that's what I have. It's a 62.3% hydration dough, with 2% salt. It tastes very good, even with my rank-beginner pizza-baking skills. Of course, more practice is necessary. Damn ;).

 

20211015-DSC_1372.jpg

 

The one thing about their margherita recipe that I thought was a bit off was the sauce quantity. The sauce is very thin (as expected for something cooked at this temperature), it's just a can of whole tomatoes, driven through a food mill and seasoned with 1% salt. Their assembly recipe calls for a 250g dough ball, stretched to 12", and topped with 120g of sauce, 250g of cheese, and a bit of basil (which they want under the cheese). That much sauce made for a very soupy pizza, however:

 

20211015-DSC_1373.jpg

 

So for the second pizza a only used about 2/3 of that (I didn't measure though):

 

20211015-DSC_1374.jpg

 

I thought that was closer to my ideal sauce amount. Both pizzas were delicious, of course: this is another one that's really pretty hard to screw up so badly that it doesn't taste good. Always room to improve, of course! They suggest baking at 850°F, but when I measured the back corner of my oven it was actually hovering around 950°F, so I was probably actually a bit hotter than ideal. I will continue working on it :) .

I haven't been to Naples, but there are quite a few Neapolitan places in NYC - some of which are run by Neapolitan transplants or, in the case of Una Pizza Napoletana, a hardcore purist...  many of them produce the soupy style of pizza, and personally, I prefer it.  Knife and fork is usually necessary until it cools down to almost room temp (by around the 4th slice or so if you're taking your time).

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Marinara Pizza (KM p. 206)

 

Same dough as last night (not double-aged, I made it yesterday and it rose for 24 hours: so the same recipe as last night's, not the same batch of dough). The sauce for this one is a can of whole tomatoes, crushed, drained, and partially reconstituted to a thicker texture than the original crushed tomatoes. Obviously, using a tomato you like the taste of is critical here, since there's really nothing covering them up except a clove of garlic and a splash of olive oil. In this application (which has a LOT of sauce) I did like the fully sauce recipe. The sauce was thick enough to stay put when loading, unloading, and eating.

 

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Chris Hennes
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Sausage and Swiss Chard Pizza (KM p. 272)

 

In addition to all of the "Assembly" recipes (which is what I've been posting so far), they have a bunch of tables of dough/topping/sauce/cheese combinations, broken down into "Classic," "Inspired by Italian Ingredients or Dishes," "Inspired by Pizzerias/Pizzaioli", and "Modernist." This is one of the "Classics": the toppings are tomato sauce, smoked mozzarella, sauteed chard, crumbled Italian sausage, and ricotta. I subbed regular mozzarella for the smoked. I played around a little with the Ooni, only preheating for 30 minutes, and trying "doming" the pizza at the end. Which lit the chard on fire (cue joke about charred chard). Even so, it was still edible. Actually, it was delicious, but probably would have been better without the extra pyrotechnics.

 

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Chris Hennes
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