Since the acquisition of our wonderful "Baking Steel" surface that permits the best crust possible in a home oven, we've had more enthusiasm for trying to make pie at home that meets or exceeds what we can get from commercial pizza makers.
Our first major success came even before the Baking Steel, and we documented the merits of top-shelf ingredients in Six Sigma Pizza (story HERE). We tried again after the Baking Steel, but our ingredients were not quite top shelf. Using a good pizza dough supplied by a commercial bakery, we told the story in Five Sigma Pizza (article HERE).
For Six Sigma, our in-house chef had made a pizza dough using 1/3 King Arthur flour (cheaper at WalMart or Target than at most grocers), 1/3 whole wheat flour, and 1/3 Italian 00 flour. Because we believe in the quality of King Arthur flour, this same chef left me with a box of King Arthur "Classic Crust Mix." The box proclaims it to be a "flavorful crust made with golden semolina."
|Ugly and beautiful|
The box contains enough mix for one thick pizza or two thin ones; I opted to use half for a thin crust pie. I added the water as instructed and tossed in about a tablespoon of brown sugar. I attempted to toss/stretch/rolling pin it on a floured marble counter, and it gave me fits, sticking to the counter, sticking to my hands.
I finally managed to get it into a reasonable amoeba that fit onto my pizza peel, and then it stuck to the peel as I tried to slide it onto the 550 degree Baking Steel surface. I made the transfer, but in the process displaced a lot of the toppings from one edge - some into the pie, some off the edge.
Even at 550 degrees, it took 9 or 10 minutes to cook properly. It did slide out easily, and the bottom was beginning to char nicely. Looks like it could have used another minute or two.
As with Five Sigma pie, I used canned stewed tomatoes from Costco. I chopped the solids and reduced the liquid, using the entire can. It made for a pie that was heavy on tomato flavor, but it did not make the crust soggy. I had some fresh mozzarella that I had frozen when making Six Sigma pie weeks earlier, and it worked out fine for this pizza. As usual, I added some goat cheese and some grana padano.
I was disappointed to see that the pie was very flat -- almost no hole structure. It was beautifully crisp, with a satisfying chew although it was probably less tender than ideal. I was blaming my clumsy kneading technique and the need to roll it for the flatness; then I looked in the empty box and realized that I had forgotten to add the packet of yeast!
Despite my rookie pizziaolo errors, this poorly shaped, flat unleavened crust tasted wonderful. Spectacular, actually. I really don't remember a tastier crust anywhere, including DiFara and DeLorenzo. Better texture, sure. But no better flavor than this lovely King Arthur mix. I will surely try it again, but I need to study up on kneading technique.
Bottom line, King Arthur Pizza Crust Mix has my tentative endorsement unless I find that no matter what I do, it sticks too much to form a good round that slides easily from the peel.