Unfortunately, I'm a little behind schedule on my pizza dough making mission, but I promise - more experiments coming soon! In the meantime, here's a beautiful video about the nuance that goes into bread making, as demonstrated by famed San Francisco baker Chad Robertson of Tartine Bread.
Bread and pizza dough go hand-in-hand, and I've been thinking about picking up the Tartine cookbook for some time now. As I mentioned above, the nuance that goes into the process is really pretty remarkable. Pizza Perfect World member Gina Kometani made mention of this in her comment in my previous article on essential tools and getting started, and as promised, here's a quoted passage from Jeffrey Steingarten's (food editor of Vogue) The Man Who Ate Everything, on creating a starter, "or as the French call it, le chef":
"This is a piece of dough in which wild yeast and lactic-acid bacteria live happily in symbiosis, generating the gases, alcohols, and acids that give this bread its complex taste and chewy texture.
Commercial yeast is bred to produce clouds of carbon dioxide for a speedy rise, at the expense of aromatic compounds. You first loaf of pain au levain can take six days to make from start to finish. Then each new batch of bread is leavened with a piece of risen dough saved from the previous baking. Compare with bread using commercial yeast, pain au levain is unpredictable, slow and pray to varioainos in weather, four, temperatures are the seasons. 'Playing with wild yeast is like playing with dynamite'...."
Intimidated yet? The idea of "heritage baking" or passing along the same strain from loaf to loaf is pretty wild. If it sounds like too much trouble, maybe you'll be swayed by Steingarten's description of the taste:
"When the baking is going well, [pain au levain] defines the good loaf: a thick, crackling crust; a chewy, moist aerated interior; the ancient, earthy flavors of toasted wheat and tangy fermentation; and a range of more elusive tastes—roasted nuts, butterscotch, dried pears, grassy fields—that emanate from neither flour, water, nor salt, but from some more mysterious source. This is the true bread of the countryside... the eternal bread."
If you're feeling brave, here are detailed instructions for attempting the legendary loaf, via the New York Times. Or better yet, pick up the Tartine cookbook. It provides one of the most detailed tutorials out there for creating your own sourdough starter.
Coming soon: Attempts at both Mario Batali's homemade pizza (just got the cookbook in the mail!) and Serious Eats' New York-style pizza recipe. Also, I got a sneak peak at the upcoming Pizzeria Mozza cookbook, and it looks amazing.