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So you want to make a PIZZA ? I mean a real home-made pizza ? Are you going to make the PIZZA DOUGH from scratch ? Are you going to make the PIZZA SAUCE from scratch ? Will you prepare the TOPPINGS ? Yes, my friends, toppings also need to be prepared because you probably don’t have a professional commercial restaurant pizza-oven at home that can easily reach 350°C … Or do you ?

Even simple & super-fresh ingredients need a little helping hand to make the flavors and the essences shine through ! Let me explain. The flavor of even wonderful and fresh tomatoes can be deepened & heightened if you brush them with white vinegar and/or lemon juice and sprinkle them with salt (whether making pizza or just a simple salad). As they sit and lose some of their water, they taste better and if you’re making pizza, baking the tomato slices until they lose half of their water will make them more intense and avoid the ‘soupy’ mess that can occur on a pizza dough that is prepared in a regular and not very powerful home oven and that can’t make all of that water in the toppings evaporate quickly and completely enough. You want a crispy thin dough with perfectly cooked toppings on top, right ?!

I’m using “aumonière” or “beefsteak” tomatoes which actually resemble like old-style leather pouches but are very meaty, tasty and heavy, weighing at least 400 to 500 grams each. Not to be confused with the original and ancient variety often called ‘buffalo heart’ or ‘ox heart’. Those are smaller and delicious but quite expensive in comparison. The optional addition of fennel seeds also accentuates the taste of freshness.

Another way to increase the flavor of the pizza dough is to use the slightly salty & milky liquid that the mozzarella balls are packed in to make the actual pizza dough instead of using plain water. It’s like making regular pizza dough but you need less salt because of this salty and milky cheese brine.

This summery pizza doesn't resemble my customary montreal-style all-dressed pizza which uses 1200 grams of toppings for 600 grams of pizza dough (see the recipe here). This summer pizza is lighter in flavor as well as weight, requiring only 600 grams of toppings for 600 grams of pizza dough.

These are simple methods you can use to literally make a simple 2-flavor pizza of tomato and cheese flavors into something less plain and more spectacular … TRUST ME !

Anyways, the weather is wonderful but really hot, it’s 35°C as I’m writing this, I’ve been working hard and travelling alot during the past 6 weeks in a suit and tie and I have 1 more week before the summer holidays ! I know I usually post recipes on Fridays but it was impossible so, as a compromise, I’m posting it now, a few days later. You see, no abandonment issues on the horizon !

I hope you’re all having a nice summer and I hope your holidays are just around the corner . . . :)

summery “beefsteak” tomato & mozzarella pizza

04.07.2018

2-4

ingredients

mozzarella water pizza dough (600 grams) :

  • 360 grams (2 ¾ cup) mixed flours (90 grams or 2/3cup whole wheat flour + 270 grams or 2 cups + 2 ½ tbsp white all-purpose flour (or TYPO 0/T45 flour with high protein/gluten content 10-12%)
  • 235 ml (1 cup minus 1 tsp) mozzarella water (or mozzarella water + regular water)
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 grams (1 tsp) fine sea salt
  • 5 grams (1 tsp) golden cane sugar
  • 4 grams (1 tsp) dried active instant yeast (for a 9-10 hour rise in the refrigerator + 1-2 hours at room temperature)

tomato sauce (200 grams) :

toppings (400 grams) :

  • 400-450 grams (1 large or 2 medium) fresh beefsteak tomatoes (reduced to half their weight or 200-225 grams after sliced & slightly baked)
  • 5 - 10 ml (1 -2 tsp) white wine vinegar or lemon juice
  • 5 - 7,5 grams (1 tsp – 1 ½ tsp) fine sea salt
  • 200 grams (2 balls) strained & torn mozzarella (preferably di bufala campana)
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 grams (2 tbsp) whole fresh basil leaves
  • 5 grams (2 tbsp) whole fresh oregano leaves
  • optional : 1 gram (1/4 tsp) fennel seeds

instructions

mozzarella water pizza dough (the recipe quantity is for 1 large 45 cm pizza or 2 medium 30 cm pizzas) : 

  • begin by straining & reserving the salty & milky water that the mozzarella balls are packed in, you can also tear the mozzarella balls apart and let them drain a bit more in a colander until slightly drier, then reserve the mozzarella in an air-tight container in the refrigerator
  • combine the mozzarella water with the sugar, the olive oil and the yeast and whisk and let sit for several minutes
  • prepare the dry ingredients by combining the flours and salt, stir well and add the liquids and use a wooden spoon to stir it until it all comes together roughly, cover and let sit for 15 minutes to hydrate, then knead with floured hands for 2-3 minutes, place back in the bowl, let it rest for 15 minutes then knead again for 2-3 minutes and shape into a large round ball (or 2 smaller balls)
  • sprinkle the ball of dough with flour and sprinkle the inside of a flat container with flour too, place the ball of dough inside, cover with a lid and place in the refrigerator for 9-10 hours (for a slow rise) and then at room temperature for 1-2 hours before flattening and shaping into a disk

pizza tomato sauce :

toppings :

  • cut the beefsteak tomatoes into 1 cm thick slices, remove the seeds, brush with white vinegar or lemon juice on both sides, sprinkle with salt on both sides and let sit on a rack for 30 minutes
  • preheat the oven to 210°C and place the rack of tomato slices in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes, then turn off the oven, open the oven door and let sit for another 15 minutes until they are at half the initial weight, let cool completely before using
  • prepare the fresh herbs (and fennel seeds) and remove the torn mozzarella from the refrigerator 1 hour before assembling the pizza

assembly (you can see more precise images here for opening up the dough) :

  • preheat the oven to its maximum (mine goes up to 230°C)
  • open up and stretch out your pizza dough on a floured surface or directly onto the baking dish (I use a 45 cm metal pizza pan heavily sprinkled with flour, wheat semolina or cornmeal and toasted flour too for a more grilled pizza-oven baked flavor) and stretch it out into a round shape until slightly larger than your baking dish, then push the overlapping edges back onto the baking dish for a thicker edge
  • spread out the room-temperature tomato sauce onto the pizza but leave a 3-5 cm edge without sauce, add the fresh herbs directly onto the sauce (and fennel seeds), cover with the slightly dehydrated and baked tomato slices, add the torn mozzarella on top and finally drizzle with some olive oil
  • place the pizza pan directly on the bottom (the floor) of your oven and bake for 12-15 minutes at 230°C (or less time if your oven is stronger), rotate it once after 6-7 minutes and let the vapor escape
  • remove from the oven, sprinkle with a few more fresh herbs, let it cool down for several minutes before slicing and serving …