We had a late lunch, so I made this with about half the dough I normally use. This was my first attempt making my own sauce, I figured it would be the weak point of the pie...but it actually turned out well for a first attempt. The mozzarella ended up being the subpar ingredient; it just didn't have the flavor of other fresh mozz. Not sure if it was because I used smaller balls or if it was just low grade mozz from the grocery store. Going forward, I may stop adding Basil it to the sauce and sprinkling on top after baking...being such a bold flavor, it gets in the way of evaluating other parts of the pie (and I just don't like it that much).
Homemade dough (see below)
Homemade sauce (see below)
Bonelli EV Olive Oil
4 small fresh mozzarella balls sliced (Hannaford)
Fresh basil (our garden)
30 minute oven/stone preheat @ 500
10 minute cook at 500
I thought I might have been using a little too much yeast in a the previous attempts, so I used half of what I had been using (1/4, since it was a half size pie) Combined 55g room temp water, 85g bread flour, 1/2 tsp iodized salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of active yeast in a bowl and mixed for 15 seconds. I have been meaning to only add 3/4 of the flour initially (mixing the rest in during the spoon mix), but have forgotten each time...so I added another splash of water (probably about 1 tbsp) and figured I could just add additional flour if needed. Covered and let sit for 20 minutes. Mixed with spoon for 6 minutes. Covered and let sit for 15 minutes. Hand kneaded for 2 min adding minimal flour, shaped and put to side for about an hour before baking. The dough was quite wet, but I was able to work with minimal stickage. I put a little too much flour on the dough while shaping, you can see a little in the attached picture...need to be more aware in the future.
The extra splash of water helped keep the dough wet, so although it was only half...I was able the stretch the dough well and make about a 5/8 pie. Halving the yeast worked as expected; I didn't get the same rise as previous pies, but it was closer to what I wanted. Next time I plan to use 2/3 or 3/4 tsp (full size).
I decided to go with ugly ripe heirloom tomatoes (from Hannaford) rather than canned. I blanched them (30 sec boiling water, 30 sec ice water, peal), squeezed out the seeds putting the big pieces in the strainer. Moved them to the food processor and added a few leaves of fresh basil from our garden. Processed for 20 seconds. Strained again. Added a pinch of salt, 1/2 tsp of white sugar, pinch or dry oregano. Still tasted a little bland. Added a few shakes of garlic powder, that helped a lot. Added about 1/4 tsp of parmesan cheese. Sauce actually tasted pretty good before cooking! After adding the sauce to the pie, I added a light sprinkle of parmesan.
The sauce turned out well and had a good amount of flavor. Next time I may add a small amount of EVOO to the sauce to help the texture. I always drizzle a little on top before baking, so next time I will try adding it to the sauce instead (or both).