Flat is Beautiful V Transcript



[Man and woman are waiting for their pizza]
WOMAN: Well, you know how it is when you really crave something, right?
MAN: Oh, yeah.
[a pizza arrives at their table]
M: Oh, here it is. All right.
W: Well, I just had to have pizza now.
M: I thought you liked that pizza from that show, uh, "Tastes Good", "Good ...
W: "Good Eats."
M: Yeah.
W: I do. But AB's crust ...
M: You know, that guy is a complete dork.
W: Well, yeah, but his crust is really good. It's chewy and puffy. But tonight, I want crisp and thin, and kind of charred, like the pizza we had in Italy, remember?
M: Actually, he's more like a goober, you know, with all the puppets and the science and everything.
W: Besides, his dough has to rise, like, all night, and I require instant pizza gratification.
M: What happened to, (high voice) "Your patience will be rewarded, okay, honey"?
W: Shut up.

    [AB is sitting at the next table, hiding behind a fictional magazine "Food Science, September 2010"] I'm happy to report that the conversation you just overheard never really took place. It was a dramatization, a fabrication, a hypothetical unlikelihood. But let's face it, it could happen, right? I mean, true, the original Good Eats pizza is tasty, it's chewy, yeasty, and, yes, puffy like pants in the 80s. And I'm willing to admit that man cannot thrive on one pizza alone. It is conceivable that one might desire a crisp, thin pizza in the Neapolitan style, with bits of mahogany char and, yeah, you might want it fast.
    Well, fine, so that we can be certain that this scene never plays out in reality, we will strive to fold the aforementioned characteristics into the pizza that we call ...

[Good Eats theme plays]

The Kitchen

GUESTS: Yeast Sock Puppets

    [at the refrigerator] When it comes to yeast-leavened breads like pizza dough, I've always been a fan of the long, cold, dough rise, because cold decelerates the life cycle of yeast, so that they produce flavor compounds, and of course ...

YEAST SOCK PUPPETS: [belch, slowly]

... CO2 at a slower, more even pace, allowing the dough more time to absorb the goodness. That said, there might just be one particular ingredient that we can invite to the party that might grant us slow-rise flavors at fast-rise rates, not to mention temperatures. [directed at the belching] Eww.

    Let's get our dough on. Sixteen ounces by weight of all-purpose, or A.P. flour go into the work bowl of your favorite stand mixer. Now I know what some of you are thinking. You're thinking, hey, he's making a yeast bread. He's going to need some, you know, high protein. He needs to use bread flour. And if I was going with a really long rise period, or if I was trying to create a big poufy loaf, I would probably concur. But what I want here is pliancy and speed, so I'm going with plain old lower-protein all-purpose flour. To that, we will add one standard envelope of instant or "rapid rise" yeast. It's 2.25 teaspoons or 7 grams for the metrically minded. Now in this case, "instant" or "rapid" refers to the speed at which the yeast get to work. 16 Ounces All-Purpose Flour
1 Envelope Instant Or "Rapid
    Rise" Yeast

    Now let's just review a couple of common forms here. This is cake yeast, not because it's used in cakes, but because it comes in a cake form. And this is like a big live colony - 70% water by weight. And the yeast that are inside are alive and kicking, wide awake and ready to go. Problem is, extremely perishable stuff, which is why back in, I don't know, early 20th century, people switched over to active dry yeast. Now to make this, you dry up the little bugs in such a way as to basically encapsulate live cells inside tiny little pods composed of dead yeasts. Blech! And when dissolved in water, the dead ones wash away and the living emerge, phoenix-like, from suspended animation. I don't much care for active dry yeast, because it has to be soaked or proofed in warm water before use, and I'm too lazy to mess with that. And all too often, you find that the yeast inside just aren't very robust, and they take a long time to get any dough blown.

YSP: [yeast appears, belching weakly]
That's just pathetic.

    Instant, or "rapid rise" yeast are processed differently so that there are more live yeast involved in the equation. And since they're packaged with a dash of citric or ascorbic acid, vitamin C, they get a little boost right out of the box. They are wide awake ready to blow.

YSP: [yeast appears, belching vigorously, inflating a balloon]
AB: Ha ha ha ha!

    They don't have to be soaked before they go into battle, which is nice.

    Now to the flour and yeast, a tablespoon of salt, and yes, you can dump that right on top of the yeast, no matter what your old culinary school instructor told you. Then the wet works. Ten ounces of warm water, say, about 105 degrees. That will provide the requisite moisture and the warmth needed to wake up the yeast. We're also going to add two tablespoons of olive oil for flavor and lubrication. And then my secret ingredient, one tablespoon of malted barley syrup. 1 Tbs. Kosher Salt
10 Ounces Warm Water
2 Tbs. Olive Oil
1 Tbs. Malted Barley Syrup

    Barley syrup is made by malting barley. All right, step one, allow the barley to sprout or germinate in water. Germination sets enzymes into motion, which convert the grain's starch reserves into a double-glucose sugar called maltose. The grain is then kiln-dried and mixed with water, as well as other cooked grain products, which are gobbled up by the enzyme. Then a slurry is extracted, and this is boiled down into a syrup. Although malt syrup could be made in the home environment, buying it in the jar is ever so much more convenient.
    Now here's the really important thing about maltose. Unlike sucrose and glucose, yeasts can break it down very, very slowly, which means that when we lead our dough into its second rise, the little boogers will still have plenty to eat, and that means they'll still ...

YSP: [yeast belch and giggle]

So install your dough hook and mix on low until the dough just comes together.
    All right, now after a minute and a half or so, the mixing phase is over, and we are ready to transition to the kneading phase, so boost the speed to medium, and set your timer for 15 minutes. Now what's really going on here?

    [at the table with a weaving loom] Weaving. If we want a pizza with a thin, crisp crust, then we're going to have to be able to roll or stretch our dough into a thin membrane. To achieve that, we must weave together two weak proteins, glutenin and gliadin, and that is exactly what kneading does. Now the resulting mesh we call gluten, and without it, we would have a crumbly crust, rather than a nice crisp one. So how do you know when the weaving is done? Well, when you have a scarf, of course. Just kidding. Gliadin + Glutenin = Gluten

Americans eat an average of 43 slices of pizza per person each year.

The Kitchen

    What we're going to apply is called the window pane test. And just grab yourself a little bit of the dough. It's going to be a little on the sticky side. That's good. Kind of roll it between your hands, and then start kind of stretching it out into a mini pizza. Just kind of work it and turn it, work it and turn it. Trying to make a nice thin membrane, almost like what you do with your tongue when you're getting ready to blow a bubble with bubble gum. And when you get it thin enough, hold it up to the light, and you should be able to see the meshwork right through there. That is what we call a well-developed dough.
    Now lube up either a large canister or mixing bowl with just a bit of oil. Toss in the dough ball to coat, and cover for the first rise. One hour in a warm spot. Speaking of ...
    [at the oven] Let us take a moment to contemplate our baking venue. Now most of us have a home oven. The problem with these devices is that they're calibrated to heat only to 550 degrees. I mean, sure, you could potentially file off the door lock and bake during the self-clean cycle, when temperatures top 800 degrees, but that particular modification would void your warranty, and quite possibly your homeowner's insurance. Besides, 800 is just medium-warm for a real pizza oven.
    Now when I say real, I mean, of course, an old-school, old world wood-fire oven like this. [camera pulls back to reveal said oven] Ooh, soapstone. Nice. In here, temperatures can top 1,200 degrees, which can convert a dough to cracker-like crunch in not minutes, but moments. Alas, I do not possess one of these ... yet. Nope, to find the heat I seek, we're going to have to head out of doors. Sure is nice, though.


    [AB opens the lid of his gas grill] Oh, don't let those bars spook you. If we've constructed our dough correctly, it will flourish in this environment, okay?
    Now if you're a purist, you could light two pounds of charcoal in a chimney starter and build yourself a nice single-level, medium-heat fire in your charcoal grill. However, if I remember correctly, instant gratification was something of an issue here. So this time, we're going gas. We will fire all burners on high and give the box plenty of time to heat up. I'd say 15 minutes minimum. Oh, and make sure that the grates are clean, because anything that's left on them is going to be in your pizza.

The Kitchen

    All right, our hour is up. Time to bust down this dough and divide it into thirds. Ooh! Nice rise. That's exactly what we're looking for. So turn that out, and the first thing you're going to do is punch it down, get out some of those really big bubbles. So just move it around, form it back into a ball.
    Now we need three pieces, so I'm going to weigh it to be precise. [weighs it on a balance, 1 lb. 11.8 ounces] So we're basically going to be looking for 9 1/2 ounces here. So in splitting this up, I usually find it's easier to shape it into kind of a cylinder like that. And we'll take a third. [cuts a piece and weighs it. It weighs 9.50 ounces] Hey, not bad.
    All right, pound it out flat, just to make sure that all the big bubbles have been popped out. Now pick it up and start folding it in on itself. And pinch the bottom so that you've got a nice, smooth outer skin, okay? Now lay that down on the counter. Hold your hands like this [loosely cupped around it], and just roll. Now notice I'm not closing my fingers around it. I'm not squeezing the dough. There. That'll tighten that outer skin and give us a nice smooth ball, which is going to make it a lot easier to roll out later. Repeat with the remaining two balls. [cover with tea cloth]
    Set your timer for 45 minutes. Now this step is referred to as bench resting and it constitutes a second rise, which will happen fast and furious, thanks, of course, to the maltose in that barley syrup. All right, so with the dough on final approach, it's time to hit the sauce.

    Get yourself a big old ripe tomato and slice it thin, about a third of an inch. You'll get about six pieces. Toss that with two whole cloves of garlic, minced, a tablespoon of olive oil, half a teaspoon of good old-fashioned kosher salt, and, for a kick, a quarter teaspoon of red pepper flake. And just toss that together with your hands and allow it to marinate. No cooking necessary. 1 Large Ripe Tomato, Sliced
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 Tbs. Olive Oil
tsp. Kosher Salt
tsp. Red Pepper Flake

    Time to consider our one piece of specialty hardware, all right? [the pizza peels lower from the ceiling] The peel, which, of course, derives from the Latin "pala" or spade, is indispensible to the pizza-producing process. Now pizzerias that do their cooking in commercial deck ovens often cook their pies on flat pans, which are bandied about on metal peels. True pizza artisans, however, like you, should always reach for wood, because its texture allows for the easy transfer from board to oven floor or fire and back again. You can even cut your pizza on it if you wish.
    Now this is my personal favorite peel, Emma. Emma Peel. Oh. You know, you youngsters are just going to have to look that one up.

The toppings of the Margherita pizza basil, fresh mozzarella and tomatoes are said to represent the colors of the Italian flag.

The Kitchen

    Time to check on our dough balls. This was no boating accident. Sorry, I ... Well, never mind.
    It is time to roll things out. But before we do anything, we must lightly flour our pizza peel, because it's got to be done at some point, and it's easy to forget. There. Now if you're not going to use a peel, just use a flat cookie sheet. Whatever will allow you to deliver the pizza to the grill.
    All right, take dough ball one and just work it into a disk. I like to use my knuckles to help break up the bigger bubbles in there. Now if you don't mind a free-form shape, you can just kind of stretch and rotate this thing until you've got a 12 to 16 inch amoeba. Otherwise, you might want to fetch a rolling pin. I like this French model. No handles, just a stick really. Go to work, rolling outward and then turning, so you're always rolling in the same direction. Turn kind of 90 degrees and roll again. Now if you want a really thin pizza, this is definitely the way to go. And every now and then, just kind of shake the dough to make sure it's not sticking to the board. More flour may be required, but try not to go crazy with it or the dough will get tough on you. I'll measure. 16 inches. Almost there.
    Now if you're feeling really daring ... [tosses the pizza into the air to make it bigger] There, and lay it right out on the peel, stretching to the edges. Good. Nice fit.
Now, to the fire!


    Now the first step is to wipe down these grates. I've got just a little oil on an old towel. There you go. Heat goes down to medium. And we want to make sure we've got our tools. Tongs, spatula, brush, oil, mise en place standing by.

    So about one to two teaspoons of oil goes down on the dough. Brush that out right to the edges, and flip down onto the grill. Then on one side, line up those tomatoes. That's right. They're finally getting cooked. 1-2 tsp. Olive Oil
    Two minutes later, you'll be ready to flip that dough over, but first, a little bit of oil on the "A" side, so to speak, which will now go down. There. Now scoop up the tomatoes, and they will be gushy, and place them right on the pizza and just mash them down. This is from the original kind of Margherita-style pizza from Naples. 1-2 tsp. Olive Oil
    One-half ounce of parmesan cheese grated, 1.5 ounces of mozzarella, and four to six large basil leaves, shredded. Ounce Grate Parmesan +
1 Ounces Grated Mozzarella
4-6 Basil Leaves, Shredded

    Two more minutes, and look at that. You have got a finished pizza. Just scoop that up on your peel. Now notice there's still some puffiness around the edges, but that will set nice and crispy with a few minutes of resting.

The Kitchen

    [at the refrigerator] I will share with you now my top-secret favorite pizza combo. It's going to sound a little odd. But trust me. I'm a professional. First thing you're going to need, a 3.5 ounce ball of fresh mozzarella. That's the round white things packed in water or brine. Very different from melting mozzarella, okay? You're also going to need three very thin slices of prosciutto, about one ounce total.
    [at the cutting board] Now this stuff can be really tricky to cut, so skip the scissors and the knives, and just whip out your pizza cutter. Lay it out on the board and just slice right through it. It's sticky enough so that it will stay adhered to the board. I like thin short ribbons, so I just cut through one direction, and then the other, and then scoop up with my dough blade.
    All right, as for the cheese, we need to get some moisture out of it, so cut it into quarter-inch rounds, place it on some paper towel, a little more paper towel on top, and then weight it with something in the two-pound range. In 20 minutes, you will have rung out all of the excess moisture, leaving cheese that looks a lot like this. If you skip this step, you'll have puddles on your pizza. If you like that, well, okay.
    [at the pantry] Now for the secret ingredient: dates. An ingredient never before utilized on this program. These are the dried fruits of the date palm tree. They are sweet. They are figgy. They are sticky. They are perfect on pizza. And although pitted versions are easily found in American megamarts, if you find some with the stones intact, don't be afraid.
    [at the cutting board] Here's what you do. Lay them out, take your pizza roller, and just slice right into the side of the date. Open it up, and then you can use your thumb to pop out that little pit. That's it. Then just cut them up as you would any other date. Again, I like to use the pizza roller for this.


    [back at the grill] All right, the grill is ready, so we're going to swab it down with the oil just as before. The heat's a little high, so I'm going to knock it down to medium, maybe medium-high. There you go. I want a little bit more char.

    Lube up the dough just as before. Brush it on just as before. Face down just as before. 1-2 tsp. Olive Oil
    Two minutes later, just as before, we're ready to oil the "B" side. Brush that on, and carefully flip. There. 1-2 tsp. Olive Oil
    Now time to add the goodness. A little more oil, just to give a little more flavor. A little bit of parmesan cheese, again, about half an ounce as a base, and then lay on your fresh mozz, topped with the ribbons of prosciutto, the dates sprinkled on, and I like an herbal finish. Just a teaspoon of fresh thyme chopped up. 1 tsp. Olive Oil
Ounce Grated Parmesan
3 Ounces Fresh Mozzarella
1 Ounce Prosciutto Ham,
    Thinly Sliced
4 Dates, Pitted & Chopped
1 tsp. Fresh Thyme Leaves

    Two minutes later, and look at that. You've got my favorite pizza on earth. Nice and crisp, a little burned around the edges. I like that. Salty, sweet, nice.

Al Forno, a restaurant in Providence, RI is credited with serving the first grilled pizza in the US.

The Kitchen

GUEST: Vinnie, delivery man for "Nice and Cheesy Pizza"

    [both pizzas are shown] After three to five minutes, your pizzas will be ready to cut, and I do prefer a pizza wheel for the job. Vastly superior to a knife, but you can't hesitate. It's got to go down and across. And I give it about, ah, we'll say six pieces ought to do the trick.
Now as you can see, the pieces are light. They are crispy, and I guarantee you, that little bit of char is going to up the flavor quotient from 10 to 11.5. Now decisions, decisions. [finally decides to eat both pizzas at once]
    I imagine that some of you are sitting there all grumpy-dumpy about now saying, "We live in a 5th floor walk-up in the middle of the city. We can't grill our pizza." Well, chins up, New York, London, Paris, Munich. If you've got a gas cook top, a cooling rack like this, and a pair of vice grips like this, then the thinnest pizza on earth is closer than right around the corner. All right, just mix up a dough just as before, and knead your dough just like before. Rest, rise, portion, roll, and bench rest exactly as you would for the other pizzas. Then use your roller to work one of the dough balls into a rectangle, roughly the same shape and size as your cooling rack. Mine is 12 x 17, I think. Take your time, because it's going to take a combination of rolling with stretching to get this nice and thin. Then just crimp it right onto the rack, and don't worry about holes. It's rustic. People pay extra for that. Good.
    Around my house, we have a lot of vice grips to choose from, but I like the needle-nose versions for these. They really help you get a hold of the rack. Just go for the center of the back. There.

    Now apply a very, very thin coating of olive oil. It doesn't have to be extra virgin. Some kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper. 1-2 tsp. Olive Oil
Kosher Salt & Freshly Ground
    Black Pepper To Taste

    Now crank your biggest gas burner to high, and get to grilling. Just keep the bread about two inches above the flame. You know, when I think about it, this is actually going to be more like a lavash, the Armenian flatbread than a pizza, but you can treat it the same. Now just keep moving evenly over the gas. I kind of go back and forth and then side to side. And in about two minutes, you're going to notice that there are going to be bubbles, blisters coming up. Don't let those frighten you. See where it's starting to blister up in the middle? That means it's going to be extra crispy there, once the bread sets.

    All right, it's been about four minutes. I'm going to take a peek. Yeah, it's brown enough on the bottom. So we're going to flip. A little bit more oil. Going to brush that on. A little more salt. I think I'll skip the pepper on this side. And continue the grilling process for about another two minutes. 1-2 tsp. Olive Oil
Kosher Salt To Taste

    If you want to slice your bread/pizza, do it while it is still warm. I like just kind of geometric shapes. Otherwise, let it cool and just break it into chunks.
    Now instead of sauce, hummus would be appropriate, maybe with a little cumin seed and parsley. Now the best part.

AB: [to crew] Boom, please. [boom microphone comes into view]

    [bites into a piece of the bread, making a very audible crunch] Mmmm. How's that for crispy-crunchy? And the dough is fast. And since it contains that barley syrup, it will keep viable in the refrigerator for up to a week, so you can just grab it out and bake it up anytime you like. If your pizza urges must be serviced even faster than that, well, there's always this guy.

VINNIE: [opens up a box of so-so pizza]

   See you next time on Good Eats.

Transcribed by Michael Roberts
Proofread by Michael Menninger

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Last Edited on 09/27/2011