May 11, 2009
Dad, Can We Please Have Pizza for Dinner Tonight?
Now, I know those of you who have children at home get asked this question frequently, and with good reason. Kids love pizza, just as do my two sons, Noah and Caleb.
I have spent a lot of time over the years searching out and experimenting with new pizza recipes, always looking for the best. But as my tastes and knowledge change, so does my idea of what comprises the perfect pizza. Thankfully, pizza is timeless and the recipes are ever evolving, so I never get bored talking about or making pizza.
Let's talk about the most important component - the crust. Wildfire's pizza crust took weeks of experimentation to develop, and although I cannot share our recipe with you, I will explain some secrets to making a great crust.
Depending on what type of crust you prefer, tender or chewy, will determine the kind of flour that you choose. Flour with higher protein and gluten will make the crust more elastic, resulting in a chewy texture. For a tender, softer crust, use all purpose flour. We also incorporate whole wheat flour into the crust at Wildfire. We have found that by making the dough 24 to 48 hours in advance, it has an opportunity to develop the ideal texture and flavor. We hand stretch the dough, which makes the cooked crust light and airy with those great air bubbles throughout.
Choose high quality ingredients, but keep it simple. The right combination of good melting cheeses, simple sauces and roasted vegetable will reward you with an irresistibly flavorful pizza. Avoid overloading it with ingredients so your crust will not become too soggy.
When baking your pizza at home, I recommend lining the pizza peel (a tool used to transport the pizza to the oven rack, available at your local retail kitchen supply store) with parchment paper. Stretch your dough, top your pizza, and slide it right on a wire rack in a pre-heated 400° oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes. Place the cooked pizza on a wire rack for 3 to 5 minutes before you cut it to keep the crust crispy.
For a special treat, get the whole family involved in the process of making the pizza. The kids will love being able to choose the ingredients and they will have pride in the finished product. For those who want to make a pizza at home, but aren't so interested in making the dough, you can buy Wildfire's pizza dough through Peapod at peapod.com. Above is a pizza photo one of my Wildfire menu favorites - Eggplant Whole Wheat Pizza with olives and goat cheese.
From the wood burning oven,