It's been over two years since I first posted here on BAB about the trials and tribulations of making pizza at home and yet not much has changed in my pizza world. I'm still the obnoxiously opinionated, obsessive pizza lover that I've always been, rarely without some kind of criticism. My standards are high, I know exactly what I like and don't like, and I'm quick to pass judgment.
But all that being said, I am still well aware of the fact that despite being a former professional baker and an avid cook, I have yet to replicate my perfect pizza at home. I know that I will never achieve greatness in a home oven, unable to make my oven soar to a blistering 900F, but I'd still like to get as close as I can to a delicious home-baked pizza. I've had lots of advice too, from baking it on a grill to turning on the broiler before baking. But I still feel that before I really start to experiment with the heat (beyond cranking my oven to the max at 500F and letting my pizza stone absorb all that heat for at least 30-60 minutes before I slide my hard-earned pizza in) I need to find a good crust recipe.
I've already got a great sauce recipe (the secret is 6-in-1 tomatoes, seriously), but the dough has alluded me for, well, my whole life. I've tried many different recipes, from Reinhardt's to the one on the side of the Italian '00' flour package to zillions of others, but I'm just never that impressed. Maybe it's me (I do have a terrible knack for being unable to follow a recipe because I always think I know better) or maybe it's just that I haven't found the perfect balance of ingredients.
All that being said, I decided to try the pizza dough recipe in The New Best Recipe, the cookbook from Cook's Illustrated. I've been using this cookbook for over a year now, and I have to say that nearly everything I've made from it has turned out, not only delicious, but one of the best examples of what I was making.
What I learned from my latest pizza experiment:
1) Bread flour is better than all-purpose or '00' flour. It helps keep the crust crisp and still chewy and moist.
2) A food processor works well for mixing a yeast dough (I've been using it for years for my pastry crust, but never for a yeasted dough. Proved me wrong).
3) Following a recipe won't hurt me.
4) My oven gets hotter than 500F. I think it maxed out at about 575F. A hot oven is critical to making a nice bubbly crisp crust. I even tried the broiler trick at the end that extramsg once advised, and it works great.