Sunday 13 January 2013

How the leopard got his spots

…not from an Ethiopian as in Kipling's version, or in the usual fashion for Neapolitan pizzas but get them he did and we were pretty proud of last night's pizzas.

Yesterday was another day of tests, tweaking and perfecting. We were using Caputo Tippo 00 flour for the first time, we tried out three different dough hydrations (all with the Franco Manca recipe mentioned in the last post). We trialled three new topping recipes, all classics in their own right originating from some of the best places in the US. But we were also testing out a new method of making pizzas. Something I hoped would achieve the charred edges but chewy interior which we'd been aiming for. That's what I was most excited about. That's what I'd like to talk through here.

The technique itself I actually dreamt, yes, I now dream of pizzas - does that make me fluent?! The idea being to cook the base quickly and achieve the rise and 'oven-spring' in the crust as it's placed on hot stone for 60-90s; at that point though, I would take the pizza off the stone on a metal peel and use the lower firebox section in Bertha to caramelise / carbonise - take your pick. That was the plan anyway.

Here's how it looked in practice:
initial bake on the stone
finished off by the fire
And for once, it was a plan which worked. As tasty as our previous efforts had been, they'd always looked a little anaemic. We'd brought them out early to avoid drying out the crust and burning the base, but in doing so, we'd missed the speckled charring or leopard spots which add so much flavour - a hallmark of greatness for the best pizzerias. 

Check out these beauties though:

The texture was amazing too, fluffy, chewy and just what we'd been aiming for. We were chuffed.

I've love to go on about the flavour, to talk about the specific toppings, as these were three recipes I'd had my eye on for ages, although our sinuses had other plans. We both had stinking colds and as visually appealing as these all were, we couldn't taste a thing. What's the sensory equivalent of a rain check? We're going to have to make all of these once again.

Here are the recipes though if you're having better luck on the mucus front:

 Pizza Sorrentina (Kest√© Pizza & Vino)
 Rosa Pizza (Pizzeria Bianco)


  1. These look amazing! If you tried a pineapple one, you'd reach pizza perfection already...

  2. ha, we'll have to try a 'traditional' hawaiian pizza with your homemade mozzarella then

  3. Hi! Are you using an extra pizza stone on top of Bertha's firebricks?

  4. Yep, couple of reasons for that, the main one being it tends to have a more uniform temperature distribution, although it also makes life slightly easier having a smoother, continuous surface to work with. Only issue is when I get a bit carried away with the size of the pizza and launch it straight off the end of the pizza stone.