Sunday, 3 February 2013

Pizza (50% hydration)

Joanna @ Zeb Bakes mentioned me in a tweet in reference to a Hadjiandreou recipe. This caused me much amusement as I had dipped my toe into the "ephemeral stream" that is twitter and then withdrawn swiftly. But then there was an email in my inbox saying I had been mentioned in a tweet so I went to investigate...

Another twitter member had queried whether the recipe in the Hadjiandreou book was correct as the hydration of the dough was a mere 50% - rather stiff. The great man himself answered the query himself - how nice is that?! However, this was rather a coincidence as I had bought the ingredients for this pizza last Friday but then left them in the fridge at work!

This Friday was the 1st February and I met Sue in the Sheffield Tap to break my month of alcohol abstinence with a couple of pints of Thornbridge Brewery's Jaipur, one of my favourite beers. Fortunately I had prepared the dough for pizza the night before. The 50% hydration gives you a dough of the consistency of putty - bizarre! But the secret is to leave it for 24 hours during which an alchemy takes place. When we got home we rolled out the dough into two discs and I opted for the sage and mozzarella whilst Sue went for a traditional Margarita-like pizza. The results are very good indeed. The base is crispy and the 24 hour fermentation has added to the flavour. I plan to add a spoonful of sourdough next week as an experiment.

Thanks Joanna!


  1. Made this base again today - I love it! I made an addition of a spoonful of my white sourdough mix to 300 g flour and 150 g water plus salt and a tiny amount of commercial yeast. Does it need the latter? I shall try it without next week.... Tasty and crispy... I topped it with sun-dried tomato paste, red onions, mozzarella, Parmesan, and garlic and black pepper. Lovely!

  2. Hello Ray! This is Ken @k_j_b_i_r_d on Twitter. Our paths crossed briefly last weekend. I immediately went to your blog and was pleased to find somebody who had done some of Emmanuel Hadjiandreou's recipes. Always good to have somebody leading the way!

    Anyway tonight I spent a while replying to your comments only when I tried to preview what I'd written I was taken to Google+ which I didn't want to join. I clicked the back arrow and discovered my comment had been deleted. I'm going to try posting this at the current stage. If it doesn't work I won't be so upset. If it posts ok I'll rewrite my comment tomorrow.

    Until then!

  3. Hello ken, should be no reason to join google + ( I have not!) just choose another profile. Hadjiandreou's is my favourite bread book, have you tried many recipes?

  4. Hi Ray! I got 3 new bread books a couple of weeks ago - I have too many already but ...... ! One of them was Emmanuel Hadjiandreou's book. Behind the new books was a wish to have more success baking with rye and spelt. EH's book was not with that in mind but I'd been looking at it online thinking that it looks quite good. More importantly a few things in the way he bakes seemed similar to what I'm doing so I was interested. Anyway, his was the first book that I started on. Must be the pictures. I haven't made much yet. I like to start a new book at the beginning so that I get a feel for how the baker is approaching even the simplest breads. Therefore I've done the Simple White bread and the Wholemeal variant, the Bread Rolls and the Pizza. I've modified the white and wholemeal using 600g flour and baking in a ceramic dome. I do like EH's method of developing the dough. I've used the little-knead method for some years now since spending a day with Dan Lepard but I feel that EH's method is like that but draws in the best of Richard Bertinet's method of stretching but keeping it gentle. Certainly the results so far have been impressive.

    With the Pizza I was sure that it was wrong at 50% hydration as my pizzas have always been much wetter doughs. Anyway, Emmanuel replied which I thought was wonderful and so I carried on. I was surprised that the initial dough worked up quite well even if a bit like the PlayDough the children used to use. I was more than surprised the following day to discover how the dough looked, evidence of vigorous bubbling having taken place. I followed the book and made 5 pizzas rolling them out 25-30 cm, very thin. The dough handled very well. I baked off two, par-baking the others as EH suggested and popping them in the freezer. I experimented by baking the freezer bound pizza bases for 8, 9 and 10 minutes respectively. I topped the two for immediate baking with a Hugh FW basic sauce and then some mozzarella and on one of them I put sage. We loved the sage, thought initially that it would be too strong but in fact it was lovely. The base was crisp and flavoursome, I'm sure more to our liking that any other pizza I've baked and I've baked some good ones. The base partnered the topping very well and contributed flavour overall rather than being just a carrier for the topping. Really pleased.

    We used the frozen ones in the week. They were still tasty but I baked them too much and they were a bit crispbread in places. I'll try it again, worthwhile for a fast pizza. Perhaps reduce the diameter to make them thicker, perhaps reduce the temperature. Or perhaps both!

    Re your sourdough pizza, Mick Hartley of BethesdaBakers has a menu for sourdough pizza in his book. No yeast. In fact if you mention yeast Mick goes all funny, definitely pushed my sourdough baking on more than anybody else. I've done that in the past but with mixed success. He has also done a lot of variations on his blog.

  5. Didn't mean to be anonymous above, it was me, Ken Bird!

  6. Hi ken, thanks for your extensive note, be good to hear hear how you get on with trying more of Hadjiandreou's recipes. I am reading a book by ken forkish at the moment. He bakes his bread in a Dutch oven, and also makes great pizza....

    1. More pizza! Haven't heard of Ken Forkish. I'd be interested to know how you get on. I've been using a La Cloche stoneware dome for a year now. Love it! Have added an oblong version and can get both in the oven at the same time.

  7. You are welcome Ray - I am delighted you and Ken have had a good chat about this one and that Twitter was of some use. (to find a prince you have to kiss a lot of frogs, as Thurber or someone said) Sounds as if the pizza works great. Do you use any particular flour for this? It may be me but when I do get round to making pizza I find that if I roll the dough as opposed to stretch it, it always results in a harder pizza and I am not that keen on the texture when it is like that. I tend to pull and stretch and pat the dough into shape and I find I get an airier lighter base. But I haven't made that much pizza in my life, maybe half a dozen times or so, so am still very much learning how to do it.

  8. sorry that was one of my more obscure quotes, blame the fact I have had no coffee yet... Do you know Thurber? My parents were very keen on him. I was just acknowledging that Twitter is so full of trivia that I am well aware that for most people it is complete overload !

  9. Regards flour, I am not fussy with pizza and I think I used supermarket Allinson bread flour. As for the making of it, Sue tends to do that part... Part roll, part stretch and twirl! Team work!

    We have pizza once a week on Fridays. I like to experiment with toppings though I have been quite restrained of late.......

  10. Thurber? Heard the name before but don't know him. Will ask the GGG (great god google)

    Twitter - I try to limit my time surfing to half an hour a day max. I get the idea of twitter is more of an ephemeral dialogue - I like the transience of that but I don't dip my toe in nor hang around to really feel part of it. But then I'm just a narcissistic blogger......:)