Josh, another tip: You can 1/2-inch dice your cheese ahead of time, although I wouldn't do this for fresh, soft cheeses. Toss the cubes with a little cornstarch to keep them from sticking together, put them into a container, and refrigerate until ready to assemble your pizza. Any cornstarch clinging to the cheese won't affect anything. [I've frozen moderately firm, cornstarch-coated, pre-diced cheeses too. The cubes thaw pretty quickly.]
Just another thought as we are talking about cheese and "do ahead".
We like Margherita pizza's. I actually like the "fresh" mozzarela from Trader Joe's as it's not as wet as truly fresh that I can also get from two different Italian markets very close. I prefer Buffalo over that. Anyway I have had excellent results in slices (1/8 in thick typically) that I have separated, frozen, vac sealed for later use. I can get really nice fresh basil all year.
We also like a version of pizza that uses relatively thick sliced provolone for the cheese (instead of grated, and not mixed). I've frozen and vac sealed that as well with no negative results on the next cook. I can get the slice to spec at local deli's but have used the packaged slices from Trader Joe's for this as well. The thickness is perfect as well as the quality. I've vac sealed them right in the bag they come in, I.E. I open to let air escape, place in a vac bag then seal.
I have a local farmer's market with great cheese from all around the US and all around the world. I would say 50% of the time I end up throwing some out. I like the freezing idea.
I don't care for the mozzarela that is wet either. I am thinking of trying to make my own. Between the basil & tomatoes in my garden, the dough & sauce recipes, all I need is home made cheese to make a pizza entirely from home. To steal Sierra Nevada's label, an "estate" pizza.
Hear you about cheese/going bad. Even if I don't freeze as above I typically vac seal it. Stays almost forever and don't end up tossing it.
Check out the TJ's mozz next time. It's in a vac seal but not stored in water. I have taken fresh mozz and actually sliced and pressed under a little weight between towels to remove some moisture before making a pie.
Has anyone tried using starter in place of some or all of the yeast in this recipe? I've got a good starter going and I'm just getting into sourdough baking and I would really to try it in the pizza dough.
Also, I tried the pizza sauce recipe Rita and it was fabulous. Did everything by the book except for the marjoram because I didn't have any. I have to admit I was skeptical of that much garlic, but it was really good. Thanks!
I'm glad you liked the sauce. I still do, after 14 years of making it, and never seem to tire of it.
I use a firm sourdough starter for breads, but haven't tried it for the pizza in a long time. It's a wonderful, very reliable starter. I haven't been baking much in the last 2 1/2 years and I just refreshed it after not touching it for those 2 1/2 years and it was ready to use after only 6 refreshments (3 days). I'm always in awe of it. Every time I feed it, I freeze the portion I would normally discard in about 2-tablespoon portions. Then I'll thaw one portion and add it to the dough I'm currently working with. It does wonders for the flavor.
For someone who does not have a sourdough starter, there is an easier way to bump up the flavor of your pizza dough and breads. It's called "Old Dough." Pinch off a knob of a dough that you're making after the fermentation (first rise), and freeze it. When making the next batch of dough, thaw it and add it to the dough. You shouldn't have to make any liquid adjustments to the recipe. It adds very nice complex flavors.
I'm assuming, though, that you have a liquid starter. I haven't played with liquid starters for years. Keeping in mind that you're after roughly a 6-hour proof, why not experiment by substituting some liquid starter for the small amount of yeast used (see below). You'll probably have to add just a little flour to compensate for the thinner starter.
Cut the recipe in half and practice on about 3 throw-away doughs in one mixing session (cheap ingredients) in order to get your timing down. Remember, in this dough, there is normally no fermentation, only a proof.
Maybe try 2 tablespoons, 1/4 cup, and 1/2 cup of active liquid starter in each of three 250-gram flour recipes and see if you come close to a 6-hour proof. It would be good if you could put each dough in 3 of the same type of container and mark the level of the top of the dough. That way it will be easier to see when the dough has doubled.
Then stretch out the dough that comes closest to 6 hours and bake it off to see if the oven spring, texture, and flavors are satisfactory.
This approach will likely give a mild sourdough flavor. Let us know if and how this works. I'm trying to stay true to the original recipe, but you might have to make a preferment the night before. But let's try the easiest test first. This will give us a starting point. You'll learn a lot from the process in any case. Of course, an easier approach would be to try an already-written sourdough pizza dough!
Well, I wasn't planning to write a book here. I hope this is of some help to you. Let us know what you do.
Liking your "book" regardless Rita. Great tips. I'm wondering "liquid starter" vs. firm". I keep a SF yeast starter at the ready in a jar in the ridge. Refresh it when I remember or use it. But in some recipes they will just tell you to add proofed or unproofed starter (for flavor) to a standard dry yeast recipe.
I like the idea of saving the toss, as I wondered, heck why don't I save some just as a flavor agent if I want that.
So I believe you are say that I could simply take a tablespoon or two out of the jar in the fridge and add it to any recipe if I'm looking for the flavor add and not trying to make a full out sourdough.
As you use your frozen "discards" is there a ratio say per cup of flour that you like to use or simply just judge. Probably not magic just perhaps to watch you don't change up overall hydration much?
I'm with r benash. This is a really good idea that I never thought of. I look forward to seeing the answer to his questions.
I needed to make a batch of dough last night before I got a chance to check for responses and I wanted to try the starter so I tried my first batch of Jeff Verasano's dough. Will probably cook it tonight but I love your experiment idea. I will do that next week. Any experiment that involves making more pizza is a good one!