There are so many variables that go into making a PIZZA. The hydration of the dough, flour, yeast and many more.. Amounts of any kind of yeast in a pizza can make a big difference. Most recipes posted on the web, use too much yeast in their recipes. What I have found out so far, is either bulk fermenting the dough or cold fermenting the dough will give a better flavor in the crust. I am still experimenting to find different flavors in the crust of pies. In my opinion pizza is all about the best flavor you can achieve in a crust. I still am on the journey about flavors in the crust. Even differences in temperatures in you home or times of the year can influence how much yeast to use. If you want a pizza to develop flavors in the crust, there are many ways to go about achieving this.


Preferment for Lehmann Dough Pizzas

Crust of Pizza

Crust of Pizza
Rim of Preferment Lehmann Formula

Adventure in Pizza Making

There are many ways to go about trying to make any kind of pizzas you want to create. PIZZA making is fun and also you get to eat your finished product. I learned to make all my pizza on http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php If you look on pizzamaking.com you can see all the beautiful creations of pizzas members make on this site. Members and moderators help members and guests achieve almost any kind of pizzas they want to create. Since joining this site, my pizza making skills have gone from non-existent to something much better. I invite you to take a look at this site.

Total Pageviews

Sicilian Pizza

Sicilian Pizza
Sicilian Pizza with Preferment for Lehmann Dough

At my mom's home getting ready to bake in her gas oven

At my mom's home getting ready to bake in her gas oven
click on picture to go to post

Friday, January 2, 2015

Pizza Journey By Pizza Quixote with mentions of Norma's Pizza and Root's Country Market and Auction, Manheim, Pa.

Pizza Journey

By Pizza Quixote

Why do I write about pizza?

I grew up in the 1960s in a small town in Southern New Jersey.  In our little world, pizza was not a meal, and certainly not something sold by the slice. Pizza was a late night treat, an after-dinner indulgence for a Saturday night.  Mom and Dad and some friends or relatives would be playing cards (and the men drinking beer) and they'd order a pizza. And it was awesome.

For the first ten years of my pizza-eating life, I had only pizza from Rosa's in Riverside, NJ. It had a thin and crisp crust and - for my current tastes - probably too much cheese.  But in the 1970s, the chain pizzas had begun to influence pizza making. There was no Pizza Hut nearby, but they had begun to change the price point of pizza.  Mom and Pop pizza joints, pressured to compete on price, closed up or began to use cheap, generic, inferior ingredients from mass suppliers.

Rosa's closed. That was heart-wrenching. But there was another pizzeria in Riverside, Angelo's. The pizza was good, but not even close to the crisp and authentic pie we'd had at Rosa's. This pie was bigger, thicker, softer, and greasier. It was a generic pie, the kind you find at almost every strip mall pizza joint today.  Better than no pizza, but the thrill was gone.

My world was small then, and I thought that good pizza was gone forever. Even as my world expanded to central and north Jersey, I found nothing but the ubiquitous soft floppy pizza no matter where I went. This was before the Internet, so I was fully unaware of the legendary pie makers in New Haven, Trenton, New York, and Philly still making authentic pizza.

In 1980, I took a job in Princeton. I shared my tale of pizza woe with a Trenton colleague, who said "I will take you to DeLorenzo's - best pizza ever."  I doubted it, but I went along.  And I was astonished on my first visit to the legendary pizzeria on Hudson Street in the Chambersburg section of Trenton. The crust was thinner and crisper than the Rosa's pie I remembered, but tasted even better. Instead of sauce, it was made with crushed tomatoes. It was (and remains) the best pizza I've ever eaten.

From that point forward, I lived in NJ or nearby Bucks County, PA, always close enough to get a fix of DeLorenzo's pizza.  But in 2009, I moved to West Chester PA, a lovely college town with lots of great eateries. However, I soon found that I was in Pizza Kansas here - all the pizza places were churning out that same depressing soft floppy generic pie. At the same time, I began spending a few days each week in NYC, and started exploring New York pizza, which I had long felt was overrated. And I found that indeed, most NYC pizza is that same generic slop - but there are some new gems and some deserving legends.

After each pizza quest, I would share my findings (by email) with a colleague who is also a foodie. "You should have a blog" he told me often.  I finally decided that I would attempt to share the things I was learning about pizza, and my "Quixotic" quest for good pizza near my West Chester home. That's why I have the Pizza Quixote blog. It's not a job - just a hobby and passion.  "Life is too short to eat crappy pizza."

I began the blog in 2011. Since then, I've reviewed about 200 pizza places. I've had pizza in 18 U.S. states, China, Japan, and Italy. When I travel, I seek out the local pizza. Sometimes, I travel just for the pizza. The two best pizza journeys I took included a Washington DC day trip to participate in a pre-opening tasting at Wiseguy NY Pizza as one of 100 invited "New York Pizza Snobs." That story is herehttp://mainlinepizzaquest.blogspot.com/2012/10/review-wiseguy-ny-pizza-washington-dc.html 

My favorite pizza journey, though, required me to take a vacation day to visit Norma's Pizza, a small stand in the Roots Country Market in Manheim (near Lancaster, PA). Norma has a heart full of passion for pizza, and a brain full of science for dough making. Of course I sampled the wonderful "Boardwalk style" and Detroit style pizzas she makes - but she also let me make a pizza there. It was a simple cheese pie, but what I found remarkable was how easy it was to stretch the dough by hand. That is a sign of a well-constructed dough ball, and I hope I learned enough to improve my own pizza-making ability.

It was a delight to visit Norma, who had wonderful help that day from her granddaughter Drea. Additionally, the Roots Market is phenomenal. It's a farm market, a flea market, a bazaar. Easily the best farm market I've ever visited. I went in December - I need to see this place in August when the summer harvest is coming in. You can read all about my adventure there here:http://mainlinepizzaquest.blogspot.com/2014/12/pizza-genius-normas-pizza-roots-country.html

Each year, I look back at the best "Breakout" pizza experiences of the past 12 months, and this experience came in high on the 2014 list - details here: http://mainlinepizzaquest.blogspot.com/2014/12/the-14-breakout-pizzas-of-2014.html

Periodically, I rank all of the "destination" pizzas I've eaten; what pies are worth the calories?  Norma made a great showing there, ranking right alongside NYC's Lombardi's legendary pizza. That story is here http://mainlinepizzaquest.blogspot.com/2014/12/one-hundred-pizzas-worth-calories.html

What makes a pizza special? Some say the oven, some say the water.  To both of those theories, I say "Nonsense." There is nothing special about NYC water that improves the pizza, because NY is home to plenty of generic soft floppy pie, and I've had world-class pizza in Florida, Chicago, San Francisco, New Haven, Philly, all over.  It's not the water.

It's not the wood-fired oven, either. Or even the coal-fired oven. Norma uses a small two-deck gas oven, and her pies are spectacular. My #1 and #2 pizzas, from DeLorenzo's (now in Robbinsville NJ) and DiFara in Brooklyn, both come out of conventional gas deck ovens. The oven can help, and some high-heat ovens are necessary for genuine Neapolitan pizza, but the oven is not the difference maker.

From all my pizza eating, the lesson I've learned is that great pizza - destination pizza - comes from ingredients and technique. The dough can be made from ordinary flour, but it can't be supplied in bulk from Sysco. A great pizza depends upon a dough ball that is made in that pizza shop. Sauce, cheese, and toppings can take the pie to another level - but none of that matters if the crust is not good enough to stand on its own. Crust makes the pie.  It can't be floppy, soft, or wet.  There must be sufficient top heat to caramelize the cheese and to make the toppings adhere.  Ingredients plus technique.

I can't be certain, but I suspect that all pizza was good or great before the 1970s, because it was all hand-made. The chains introduced cheap pizza to the masses, but pushed quality down to a sad generic level, both at the chains and at the Mom and Pop shops competing on price. Only in the last ten years has America re-awakened to pizza as a gourmet pursuit. The Internet has helped more people find out about the legendary pie makers and their thin crust specialties. At the same time, there's been a wave of new pizza makers offering authentic Neapolitan pizzas. And, lucky for those within driving distance, we have Norma and her pies that pay homage to Detroit and the boardwalk pizza of her youth.

Thanks Pizza Quixote for sharing your "pizza journey" and also coming to market to try my pizzas.  Thanks so much for the good reviews!  It was pleasure to meet you!!