Pizza dough: a gauntlet thrown

Milk Street, the off-shoot of Cook’s Complicated, er, Illustrated, made pizza dough with the promise that this was the best dough ever. And I have to say that when they bit into it on the show I was like Dear Jesus get me some that. The secret they claim is a long cold rise and then a brief warm second rise.

That crust had an audible crunch and a soft “crumb,” as it were. Not unlike good French bread. So I made some. It was pretty easy, flour, yeast, water, sugar and salt. I had to dump it into my hand-me-down dough-hook stand-mixer machine which I feel is not quite up to par with the equipment used on cooking shows but I could just be feeling inadequate. That’s one of my go-to emotional peculiarities. 

After the requisite mixing periods you let the dough rest in the bowl of the stand mixer for 30 minutes. On TV this resulted in a soft wet pliable, nearly liquid dough. In my kitchen it resulted in a tough, pugnacious, anti-social mass of silly putty that seemed to be intent on staying in the bowl and clinging to the hook. After a good 5 minute wrestle I got the damn thing out and onto the work surface.

I know you can let these things rest and everything calms down. I wasn’t sure if the 3-day cold rise counted as “rest.” Personally when I’m resting I like it warm. So it went into the refrigerator for a 36 hour chilly rest. “A long slow rise.” 

Yeah, I dunno. It was good. But it wasn’t the crust I saw on TV (and I’ve watched them bite into that crust not just a few times). The flavor was great but the texture, while there was a certain crunch to it,  was not too unlike shoe leather. You tore the piece you were eating rather than bit it off.

In the end, though, there’s no such thing as bad pizza.

The one casualty was my pizza peel. My friend and reliable companion for 30 years. That pugnacious dough took it out, I am sure. I’ll need to find a paddle that has a little more fortitude if I’m going to be wrestling with this kind of tough mother.

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