Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Pizza Time! Excellent!

As many of you will come to find out, I'm quite the fan of pizza. Seriously, when you think about it, what's not to like? Creativity and flavours shine when making your own pie - anything you want can go on it..brilliant!

As a result, one of my goals in life is to perfect the pizza crust. To me, the crust is as important as the quality of the ingredients on top. I've tried many different recipes and the one I'm playing around with the most lately, is one from the Panasonic bread maker that I inherited from my parents (they bought a new one). It's a very simple recipe that takes 45 minutes to knead together. (This makes two large pizzas).

I let the dough rest for about 10 minutes before having at it. It could be all in my head, but I think the rest makes it easier to shape. I then shape it and place it on my pizza pan. Now, I've tried the stones and I couldn't get a brown enough crust on them. I gave the pizza pan a go, and the holes in the bottom have helped me get a more brown bottom. I bought it from Crate and Barrel for about $15 I think. Best purchase ever!

Here are a couple of photos of the recent pie (olive oil and herb base, mozzarella (shredded and ball), goat cheese and tomatoes):

I have become rather consistent in replicating the dough and the results. I do pre-bake the dough before adding ingredients. This allows me to get a crispier crust by the time all the cheese melts and starts to brown. I pre-bake at 450* for 8 minutes and then add the toppings before baking for a further 10-12 minutes.

Everything turns out great, except that I find the crust to be a little chewy sometimes and not crispy enough. Although it looks crispy, there is a bit of a chew to it. I'm trying to figure out what to change, but I don't quite have an idea yet. Any thoughts out there??

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ohio Brew Week's Beer Competition

This past month saw our first entrance in a homebrew competition - Ohio Brew Week - down in Athens, Ohio.We entered three of our beers - the two Golden Amber Wheats and the latest Limon Punch. We had unrealistic high hopes and deep down never expected to place; we were more interested in getting an unbiased review of our brews.

Well, we didn't place in the Top 3 of our categories, but we didn't fair too badly either:  both Golden Amber Wheats received a "Very Good" distincting and the Limon Punch a "Good". The scale was Outstanding, Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, and Problematic. So, technically, we should be rather proud of our accomplishments. But, when I read into the grading it said that the beer was also graded against the style of beer in which it was entered in - some of our comments suggested that we entered it into a 'wrong' style category. So, perhaps the score would have been higher? I'd like to think so!

Regardless, a great first start to perfecting our beers. A common critique was to focus on balancing the beer - balancing the hops and malt. When I think about it, it makes sense that each of the beers had that suggestion - since we used the same amount of malt (exception of the Limon Punch) and used the same proportion of hops at each introduction to the wort (45 min, 15 min, 10 min). So, we need to understand how to better balance our recipe and give it another shot. Unfortunately, it won't be for another month or so as schedules are hectic for the summer!

Here are the score sheets from the competition (good luck reading the handwritting!):

Beer #1:

Beer #2:

Beer #3

Apologies for the watermark, but I had these in a PDF format and had to convert to a JPG to upload - the only free software I found put a watermark on each image.