Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Pesto Pizza Progress

Building a pizza crust has turned out to be a fine solution for what to do with all that new starter that I have when I feed my starter to maintain its vigor. I've been taking out 20 g or so of my refrigerated starter, letting it warm up, and then do the first stage at 100% hydration to get 100 g. Due to a cool room temperature, I can never accurately predict when things are good to go to the second stage but after 10 to 12 hours I can hear the top of the plastic container burp off for the third time. As they say, third time is the charm and I mix in 60 g of flour and 40 g of water. I'm not always consistent with the flours, using KAF AP and either rye or WWW to complement the flavors.

Once ripe, I scale out 150 g of the 70% starter and mix it with some KAF AP, water, and salt. I don't knead the dough much, just enough to be sure the starter is well mixed. The dough goes into an oiled container, gets covered, and goes into a long bulk ferment on the counter. The rest of the starter gets packed with flour and placed in a small container for a one to two hour rest before being refrigerated. I'm not shy about slowing down the bulk fermentation by using the refrigerator if the dough isn't working with my schedule.

Most of the time I use a 14" perforated aluminum pizza pan that I found in Boothbay Harbor, ME. The pan gets greased with vegetable shortening before I place the now stretched dough. I parbake the crust with some grated Parmesan or Romano cheese thrown on. It helps minimize the "slippage" of ingredients. This particular pie was dressed with pesto, sliced Roma tomatoes- fresh San Marzano are my favorite but tragically not in season, a scattering of onions for my half, some cooked and chopped chicken breast, and finally, Feta cheese. The dressed pie then went in on a high oven rack into a preheated 450F oven for 10 minutes, turned around 180 degrees, and baked for another 7 minutes. It was cooled for a few minutes on the stove burner grates before the slicing commenced. It's a Mrs PG favorite.

Starter
150 g at 70% hydration

Main Dough
152 g KAF AP
28 g WWW
126 g water at 85F
5 g kosher salt

It's not a typical March here on the Middle Coast. The snowfall we've received is welcome by farmers and gardeners alike but it has fallen in very cold air so it has been the powder snow that doesn't quite satisfy anyone with an interest in growing plants or crops. The "polar vortex" weather that has bedeviled us means that the usual green shoots from daffodils emerging are yet to appear. Likewise, the peonies are reluctant to show up for work as well.

On the other hand, we are seeing quite a few of the usual suspects at our feeders. As we drive around town, we're now seeing more hawks on tree top limbs or light poles. I haven't seen any eagles overhead lately but they are more likely to be seen by the Missouri River which is about three miles East of here.

BTW, I'm not too happy with my photos that I've posted. I've been having trouble with the Picassa photo software when I try to export pictures for my posts. The photos are what I've managed to download from the My Pictures function on my computer. One day soon I hope to figure out a workaround or perhaps Google will fix Picassa. If someone has a tip for doing that with a Windows 7 OS and a Google Blogspot setup, let me know. Otherwise, I'll be waiting on progress from Google along with a few million other bloggers.

Some of the latest visitors to this remote corner of the internet have been from Mongolia, Serbia, the UAE, and surprisingly, a lot of page views from the Ukraine. It's better to bake bread than to fight a war.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.


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