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Pizza Guy

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Brittany Krempel
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With the holidays coming the opportunities for family fun are abundant. With the kids hanging out getting underfoot, it's a good idea for parents to have some kind of group activity to keep the young people occupied and happy. Chef Jerry Pellegrino can tell you from experience, home-made pizza night is a great idea. And who better to talk about the intricacies of pizza than Will Fagg of Tiny Brick Oven in Federal Hill.

Will was kind enough to write down his ideas on how to make a great home-made pizza.  Here's how.

This recipe is for a New York style pizza, made in your home oven, baked at 450 degrees, this is more of a guide , a starting point to get you going , but with practice and observation you can tweak the amount of ingredients, baking times, and perfect the sauce and topping ratios. I have included a recipe with standard measuring units, but it really helps to weight the flour in this recipe to get more consistent results. 

For 4 10" pizza crusts

Ingredients:

3 1/4 cups bread flour (420 grams)

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour (140 grams)

1 1/2 cups of water  (350 grams) (another half cup in reserve)  make sure you use purified or distilled water (chlorine in tap water retards the yeast growth)

1/2 tsp instant dry yeast 

1 tablespoon kosher salt (make sure it is not iodized, as the iodine also retards the yeast growth)

1/2 tablespoon sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

1. Combine water (1.5 cups) salt, sugar and yeast in a large mixing bowl, and mix until the yeast, salt and sugar have dissolved (the water will turn a milky yeast color)

2.  Add the flour blend (bread flour and all purpose flour together) mix until the flour is well hydrated, this will take a couple of minutes, and you may have to add a little more water, if the dough is very wet, then you may need to add a dusting of all purpose flour . 

3. Once the flour is well hydrated, and the dough ball is sticking to the sides of the bowl, make a little pocket in the middle of the dough ball and add the olive oil 1.5 tablespoons, mix and fold several more times until the oil is mixed well into the dough, the dough will start to look a little shiny, and will be forming a cohesive ball now. 

4.  Once that is done, take the dough out of the mixing bowl, fold it over on itself and knead for 3 or 4 times and then cut into fourths, and form into balls. 

Add a little more olive oil to the outside of each dough ball, put on a plate, and cover with saran wrap , allow to ferment in the fridge for 2 to 4 days. 

5.  Remove from the fridge an hour or two before baking, and gently stretch each crust into a 10" round crust. 

6.  You can use a fully prepared pizza sauce in a thin layer on top, or you can make your own (see the recipe below for home made sauce). I like using a crushed tomato sauce made with Jersey tomatos. But There are california and Italian tomato sauces that are great also. 

To make the pizza:

Top with a thin layer of shredded cheese 50% whole milk mozzarella, and 50% part skim mozzarella, some stores will have this blend already made for you with names like New York cheese blend, or pizza cheese blend, just read the ingredients label to make sure you are getting real cheese, and the correct blend. 

Top the pizza sauce with a thin later of cheese, should be about 70% cheese, and 30% red sauce still showing, evenly sprinkled over top, and only one layer. 

Bake in a 450 degree, preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, you may have to rotate your pizza halfway through the baking process, or use the convection feature of your oven to get an even bake. 

Don't over season, or over top your pizzas, once you taste the delicious fresh baked crust that has been cold fermented for several days and then hand stretched, along with the delicious cheese and tomato flavors, you won't need much seasoning or salt or oil, to get a very tasty pizza, every time. 

For a New York, New Jersey tomato sauce 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup of ground tomatoes

1/4 cup tomato paste 

pinch of dried oregano

pinch of sea salt 

pinch of fresh ground black pepper

pinch of garlic powder

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

2 ounces hand crushed tomatoes (fresh if they are available) canned if not

Directions:

1.  Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and hand crush with a potato masher, or pulse in a blender or food processor just a few times, this should make a crushed tomato sauce not a pureed sauce. 

2. Make your dough on Wednesday and enjoy pizza night Friday nights, and use any leftover dough on saturday. 

Notes:

~Remember to use a thin layer of toppings, it should look like a pizza, not a cake. ~Don't over-season, less truly is more when you have great tomatoes to work with you don't need a lot of seasonings. 

Have fun and if you have any questions or comments or need any clarification, feel free to email Will@tinyBrickOven.com 

-Al Spoler 

Al Spoler, well known to WYPR listeners as the wine-loving co-host of "Cellar Notes" has had a long-standing parallel interest in cooking as well. Al has said, the moment he started getting serious about Sunday night dinners was the same moment he started getting serious about wine. Over the years, he has benefited greatly from being a member of the Cork and Fork Society of Baltimore, a gentlemen's dining club that serves black tie meals cooked by the members themselves who are some of Baltimore's most accomplished amateur cooks.
Executive Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Corks restaurant is fascinated by food and wine, and the way they work in harmony on the palate. His understanding of the two goes all the way to the molecular level, drawing on his advanced education in molecular biology. His cuisine is simple and surprising, pairing unexpected ingredients together to work with Corks' extensive wine offerings.