Pizza pie is amore!

Oh Dean Martin, I wish I had your song playing while we made pizza a couple of weeks ago. The second half of our pie adventure was making pizza with Gabe. It was dough love!

pulling apart the dough

  Gabe Mill’s Neapolitan Pizza Dough Recipe

Makes two pizzas

500 grams unbleached flour

1 teaspoon salt (6 grams)

3 grams yeast

325 grams water

Place all the ingredients in a Kitchen Aid mixer with a bread hook and process on the mix setting of “2” for six minutes. Put the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with a towel and let it rise for about 1-2 hours. Punch down the dough and divide into two balls. Let it rest for 10 minutes on the counter before forming into a pizza.

To form the dough into a circle, grab the edges of the dough and let it hang down (see the top picture of Gabe) and go round and round with your hands on the edges. Slowly a bigger pizza pie dough circle will develop.

the cooking club members

Patty and Gabe

Pizza pointers from Gabe:

1. Measure everything with a scale. Flour is sensitive to humidity and you get a more accurate end-product.

2. The temperature of your oven should be turned up as high as it will go (without going to the broil setting). My oven went to 500 degrees F but I think 450 would’ve been ideal for my little oven. Gabe, being a carpenter, has built his own brick oven kiln in his backyard. The temperature of his kiln can get to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. You can use any type of pan or stone to put the pizza in.  Don’t oil the pan.

4. If you are not using the dough right away, oil the dough and bag it for the refrigerator.  When you take it out of the refrigerator , let it have a chance to come to room temperature for 20 minutes to 1 hour.

5.  You can use Semolina corn meal on pizza peel if you use a stone and a paddle to take the dough in and out of the oven.

6. Put toppings on pizza dough and sprinkle olive oil lightly over top.

7. Check on the pizza after about 8 minutes, then continue to check on it every 1-2 minutes. You can turn the pizza 180 degrees if your oven is not very even in baking.

8. Gabe’s Sauce for Butter knots: minced garlic, butter, white wine, olive oil, and cream.  Combine the ingredients in a pan and heat on the stove top. All the ingredients are to taste. It was fabulous!

9. Use fresh tomatoes with some salt for the pizza sauce. It brings out the freshness of all the ingredients.

10. This dough is great for bread making too. After it rises,punch it down, form it into a baguette then let it rest for 10 minutes before putting it into the oven.

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pizza uno

pizza

I lost track of how many pizzas we made, maybe ten? We had a variety of toppings, feta cheese, fresh basil, fresh mozzarella, parmesan, sun-dried tomatoes. We even had a dessert pizza. Bake the pizza dough without anything atop, spread a mixture of marscapone cheese with fig jam and crinkle malt vinegar with sea salt potato chips atop. Sounds weird but it was yummy.

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We all gathered around the table to finish up our pizza, drink some wine and limoncello to cleanse our palate. Julie, our school teacher among the group, read the book below. The Little Red Hen didn’t bake any pizza but she did do the dishes. It was a nice ending to a beautiful day and everyone pitched in to clean up which was even better for me as the host.

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Gabe the Pie Man

appletini pie

The Fearless Cooking Club met last weekend to celebrate National Pie Day January 23rd. We invited self-taught baker, Gabriel Mills, who demonstrated his expertise at pie and pizza pie making.

Gabe was born in Baker, Oregon (really) and he and his sister were raised by three sets of people. His mother was bi-polar where home was chaotic. Then raised by a nice elderly couple where the woman taught he and his sister how to cook and bake. There was an atmosphere of no fear and she was a kind teacher. Then they were sent to live with a not-so-nice aunt and uncle. It was never okay to ask for a toy as a gift, but to ask for a practical gift like a rolling-pin or kitchen tool was fine. At age 13 years he began his quest to unseat his aunt as the family Pie Queen. He became the family Pie King when the relatives gathered for Thanksgiving and they gobbled up his pie and left hers still in the plate. So began his baking career.

Gabe brought us all a pound of butter he buys wholesale, $2.00 apiece. That’s a lotta butta!

James Farm Butter

85 grams flour (2 cups)

1/4 teaspoon salt (use a pinch for a sweet pie)

1 Tablespoon sugar

155 grams unsalted butter (cold) or (2/3 cup)

113 grams cold water or (8 Tablespoons )


prepping for pie crust

Add the cold butter cut into small cubes and cold water to the dry ingredients on the pastry sheet and work them together using two dough scrapers with the goal of keeping it cold. Work the dough by stacking formed pieces together on top of each other making thin folds.

pastry scrapingWrap the dough in plastic wrap and put in freezer for at least twenty minutes before using it in a recipe or for up to four days in the refrigerator. It may be placed in the freezer almost indefinitely.

Each crust weighs 120 grams for a 9-inch pie pan. Pre-heat the oven to 370 degrees and place in the middle of the oven. Follow the directions for the filling of your pie recipe.

Gabe’s Go-To-Tips:

1. Measure everything with a scale. Flour is sensitive to humidity and lack-there-of (especially in the Mile High City where it is pretty dry). You get a more accurate end-product if you do.

2. Gabe likes the Pie and Pastry Bible  cookbook by Rose Berenbaum as his baking reference. He said that some of the recipes are quite lengthy to prepare, but the result is worth it.

3. Gabe uses a non-slip pastry sheet for rolling out the pie dough. As you can see in the picture, Joy brought her vintage Tupperware pastry sheet. I had one just like it oh-so-many years ago but it got cut up and damaged. You can still find them at Tupperware or you can find a vintage one on EBay. A marble slab is the ideal board for keeping the pie ingredients cold.

4. Gabe likes aluminum pans as he gets a consistent end-product result. He brushes the crust with egg white and sprinkles it with sugar.

5. Gabe likes Gold Medal flour, but King Arthur flour is his prime choice as it is organic. He usually buys it if it is on sale as it is a little more expensive.

6. If you use your hands working the dough, it warms the dough. The pie dough is very forgiving because it eventually ends up in the refrigerator or freezer before using in a recipe. If need be, the dough can be placed there for a time to get the temperature right and then return to the work board to get it back to a good consistency.
Gabe the Pie Man

Patty’s Points:

1. I looked up James Farm butter and could only find that it is distributed out of New York. What little I could find on the internet was that in the Julie and Julia movie, Julie Powell leaves a pound of James Farm butter at the Julia Child kitchen replica at the Smithsonian. Butter made in the old USA. There is also a band called James Farm. They got more hits on the internet than butter searches.

2. The pie pictured above was baked by Gabe prior to the baking party. It is an Appletini Pie with gin and vermouth added in. He likes to use Honey Crisp with Granny Smith apples together. He also likes the Pink Lady variety which adds a pink color to the pie. He doesn’t add a lot of sugar to the fresh fruit, instead choosing to let the fresh fruit shine in the recipe.

3. The pie crust was flaky and light, the apples were so fresh, without being heavy. He does NOT use Crisco. He has used lard on occasion but butter is best.

As Gabe was telling his story of how he started baking as a child I had memories of other pie makers and the stories behind them.Art of the Pie , a blog written by Kate McDermott is one. I met Kate this past summer at the BlogHer Food 2012 conference in Seattle when she personally shared her story about her kind neighbor. And of course there is the movie Waitress. The lead actress played by Keri Russell, baked and created unusual pies with titles reflective of her unhappy marriage, unexpected pregnancy and affair with her doctor.

The pie story continues on the next post as we made pizza pie dough and lotsa pizza.

Related articles

National Pie Day

Today, January 23rd is National Pie Day

In celebration of this event, The Fearless Cooking Club will meet this weekend to celebrate Pizza Pie and Traditional Pie with a sweet and savory fillings.  Gabe “The Pie Man” will demonstrate the key to perfect pizza and pie dough.

In the spirit of my children and spouse who are engineers, the other Pi Day is March 14th (you know 3.14…….)

Stay tuned…..

Whoa Nelly! Derby City Chocolate Pecan Pie

The Kentucky Derby is this coming Saturday, May 5th, a rite of passage of spring. Many people have parties celebrating all things Kentucky and horse racing. My sister and her husband went to the pre-Kentucky Derby race activities last year and actually sat in a box next to Bobby Flay!

If you are throwing your own party you should check out the Kentucky Derby website where you can find authentic Derby recipes, including the famous mint julep.

I saw this recipe in the Denver Post May 2011 and was intrigued as I have never made a pecan pie before. As you can read in the article, the Derby Pie was created in 1954 by Walter and Leaudra Kern as the specialty pastry of the Melrose Inn in Prospect, Kentucky. Apparently the recipe is top secret, so this recipe was created from the basic ingredients.

Patty’s Points:

1) EASY.

2) Placing aluminum foil atop the pie while baking for the first 30 minutes will help prevent the crust from burning. Remove the foil the final 15 minutes and the pie becomes the finished product you see above.

Place your bets! This pie is a winner!