Tonight I made two pizzas from my recent test batch of Biga dough (dough made with a pre-fermented starter mix). The first was a Napolena, or as close as I could get, with hand crushed San Marzano tomatoes, fresh basil, fresh buffalo mozzarella, drizzled olive oil, and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.
For the oven prep, I used two pizza stones (one under and one over) with the oven set at 550 degrees. I wanted to have as much heat as possible in order to get a fast bake. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the pizza to bake any faster than normal. It baked in just under 8 minutes. I also ditched the pizza screen in order to get the best heat reaction on the pizza base. As you can tell by the photos, not using a screen allowed the dough ball (20 oz.) to shrink more than normal while on the peel. This caused the crust to be thicker than I wanted it to be. I’ll fix that next time.
As for taste, I can’t say this any simpler… it was the best tasting pizza crust I’ve ever made. The texture and flavor was very near perfect in my opinion. There was a crisp outer crust with tender elastic inside crust. The flavor added by the pre-fermentation was unmistakable. It added a rich pizza bread flavor which most of my other dough batches were missing. In fact, I generally rely on the toppings and sauce to lead the taste of my pies. This dough recipe will allow me to keep toppings very simple and still have an effective overall taste experience. The Napolena in it’s beautiful simplicity really highlighted the flavor of the new dough recipe. Everyone at the table agreed.
The second pizza was an attempt to serve a typical American pizza on the new (3-day old) dough. For this I used the same sauce that I always use and store brand cheese, pepperoni and mushrooms. The pizza was very good, if not somewhat trumped by the first one. I noticed with this pie the natural sweetness of the biga dough as the overall taste of the pie was far sweeter than my normal dough (despite the fact that this dough had no sugar added). I really liked the taste of a sweet pizza as this is something I’ve been after in sauce for quite a while.
Overall, the first run of pizzas using the pre-fermented dough can be considered a smashing success for me. I learned a few things and I have some ideas for the pizzas I will be making from the rest of the batch. The main frustration was not seeing the quick bake that I was looking for in the oven. I’ve seen all sorts of zany ways to handle this, so stay tuned as I continue to tweak that part of my process. Enjoy the pics!