Posts Tagged ‘roman pizza’

WOW! Puglian Grano Arso-Black Ash Flour Pizzas

 

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Puglian Arso Nero crust above, (left) with San Marzano sauce, fresh spinach, guanciale, pignoli and Puglian burrata. (Right), the greyish coricione with perfect irregular cell structure and that unmistakable smoky, umami taste…bad ass!

My introduction to Arso Nero, or Black Ash flour all started when I met Chef Antonio Esposito and Alberto Busi of Pivetti flour at the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas four years ago. They were cutting up dough balls for a demonstration of Neapolitan pizza and I had just finished preparing for a bread demo.

“Hey Guys, need some help?” I said overly friendly-like.

“Ahhh, no.” Antonio said smiling.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, we are sure, but we can let you stand there and watch us for no extra charge.” Alberto said. They both laughed sadistically and I instantly liked them. I stood there for the next 20 minutes (more to annoy than anything), asking question after question about their flour, dough, hydration, mixing etc and they were some of the most knowledgeable and friendly Pizza guys around.

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This year I was lucky enough to meet up with them again in Las Vegas and in Columbus Ohio at the awesome RDP Foodservice show. They showed me their new product called “Skura” (by Pivetti). They were cooking pizzas and breads in my all time favorite pizza makers mobile oven from GoreMade Pizza, owned and operated by fellow Ohioan and outstanding pizza maniac Nick Gore. It didn’t take me long to fall in love with this dough. Nicks oven was just over 800 degrees because he had just set up but still this great dough stood out. It had the same oven spring as a typical “00″ flour and charred nicely on the bottom leaving some killer leoparding, (spots) but the distinguishing characteristics were the juxtaposed qualities of  a nice light, airy cell structure and a deep, smoky, back-of-the-throat finish.

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Chef Antonio Espisito at work and with Pizza Legend Bruno di Fabio at the exciting RDP Foodservice show in Columbus.

Out of the ashes: The low down on Arso Nero:

In 18th century Puglia, Italy, wheat was first harvested then the fields were burnt to the soil for next years fertilizer. After the burning, the peasants would scour the fields and pick up the arso, or charred wheat berries left behind. They ground them up with semolina to make grano arso or “ash flour” then baked them in bread that produced a toasted flavor. Pivetti has successfully replicated this famed flour by slow-roasting the wheat for the same grey-black appeal.

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Check out the beautiful charred flecks of wheat floating all around the gluten net of my windowpane test, (above).

After repeated begging Chef Antonio sent me a bag of this glorious product and I went to work. I mixed it the way I would any of my high-heat, Naples-style pizzas; with just the dough, salt and water with a little pre-ferment from the Dolomite Mountains. I then aged it for 30 hours under refrigeration.  I just couldn’t wait to stoke my oven up to ultra-high heat and blast some pizza!

Here are some pies I made with Arso Nero flour.

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 First pizza was a San Marzano sauce with fresh spinach, thin slices of my homemade Red Wattle guanciale, pignoli, and some glorious Puglian buratta. Then I made a Teleggio and Portobello pizza with white truffle oil and balsamic.

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I used some aged Piave Vecchio I had and paired it with a ballistic three-year old Brugge Prestige, roasted fingerling and leek then topped with Prosciutto di Parma. For a really awesome worldly pizza, I topped the Arso Nero dough with aged provolone, curry roasted onion and cauliflower, raison, spinach and finished with fresh cilantro and Calabrian Chilies! Wow, not that’s the BOMBE!

Here’s the action packed video from my wrecked phone, (fell into some poolish a while back).

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I finally wanted to bake an ash-flour pizza with a truly Roman flavor profile of anchovy, tomato and garlic. I used salt-cured Sicilian as well as white anchovies as well as some sliced garlic and San Marzano sauce.

 

All I can say now is that these pizza really rock! Thank  you Pivetti and Antonio and Alberto! Now I am going to try to replicate this dough with charred speltberries. (More on that later).

 

 

Natural Yeast Pizza Bianca

     This Pizza Bianca is different from the 6-foot monsters made in Rome, Italy but tasty nonetheless. My staff and I ate the rest.

I promised to do a blog post about how to make pizza bianca and, I guess, this should be considered a “blomise.” After an earlier blog post on natural yeast, I’ve had alot of comments about the time it takes to obtain a strong enough levening agent to use in bread or pizza dough so… I’ve decided to combine the two.

 I have found that to raise a hearty strain of wild yeast as fast as possible from the environmnet without other contaminants takes about four to five days. Just use fruit and filtered water and wash your hands before handling either.

Maturation of a natural starter is a wait-and-see effort. But the starter is only the beginning. It can take up to 20 days of feeding for a strong, fragrant and relevant mother to take hold. (why 20 you idiot?? I can do it in…) When you take your time and don’t push things, your  starter will respond better.

 I bake hundreds of breads each week and, like kids at differing stages of development, these large plastic bins with goo made from my starters start to talk to me. Some scream for attention early,(i.e. they need a nice bake in the oven.) Others are more mellow and coast for a long period before displaying the fruity, aggressive gas and enzematic activity associated with a great pre-ferment. I’ve even screamed at my staff, “Who put the fruit juice in with this starter?” and, after finding out that it had naturally evolved into this wonderful floral goo, felt like a dad who watching his kid kick some ass at a wrestling match.

 I use a cold-maturation for my pre-ferments. This enables the yeasts to activate slower and I think, because I am using old grains like spelt, coaxes more flavor out of the whole grains. Thus, when I plan to bake, (which is every day.) I start a by feeding spelt and high protein flours to my pre-ferment that was made with the natural mother (10 pecent starter to 90 percent high gluten flour spelt and water. Then I feed twice a day for a week with the dough near the pizza ovens, (60-75 degrees.) I throw out or recycle 80 percent of the preferment and add another 80 percent flour and water, mixing with my hands. At this temp, the yeast is in it’s perfect environment to eat, eat, eat, then turn to an almost lifeless soup. After the week, I mix one more time and retard the pre ferment in my walk-in for a much needed rest for a few days.

For bake day, I take my pre ferment out for about five hours. My initial mix starts with the “Autolyse” method of mixing just the flour and water in a Stephan VCM (vertical-cutter-mixer… and yes, this is appalling to most “serious” bakers but…the hell with them- you gotta work with what you got!) I wait about 25 minutes to mix the yeast and salt in. This process greatly enhances the gluten net.

 I sometimes use a small amount of diastatic malt from Ohio’s Berry Farms and salt with a hydration of either 40 to 60 pecent depending upon what I am baking.  I also use a Pate’ Fermentee, or old dough to the mix. The little bit of malt helps with the overall taste and resulting crust as my dough retards in a cold environment for 12 to sometimes over 48 hours before baking. After this fast mix for up to three whole minutes, I bench the mix for a rest using the windowpane test

I hope you can learn some stuff from this but, just remember, I am just a pizza guy and baker who has pretty much learned by the seat of my pants, but if you want some books that are great, try Peter Reinharts “The Bread Bakers Apprentice” or “My Bread” by Jim Lahey, or “Tartine Bread.”

Just remember, you learn better from mistakes than from perfection and if you really mess things up, just lie and tell your guests its a “rustic” bread recipe from a lost Celtic tribe off the coast of Idaho. Just don’t blame me, I’m just a goon. Here’s a video of this pizza bianca with a killer topping.

 
                                                             

Here is the recipe for the cilantro topping:

These were the Na’an that I attempted. The cilantro topping was great but the dough suc…errrr… didn’t quite meet my expectations.

2 Jalepeno’s

1 red ancho chili

5 cloves garlic

One bunch cilantro

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon cumin

salt and pepper to taste

Place all in a blender, food processor or bowl with an immersion blender and blend together. Hold under refrigeration to let flavors meld for four hours or longer. Place on Pizza Bianca as shown in video