For my 50th birthday (almost 2 years ago!), my husband bought me a gift certificate for cooking classes at the Mozza Scuola di Pizza. It’s a very long story of why it has taken me this long to use it.
Last night, I went with my friend, Chris, to the last pizza class at the school. They are closing it down and opening a new restaurant in February. Nothing like squeaking in at the last possible moment!
As most of my friends know, I am a huge pizza fan. I have eaten pizza all over the world and all over Italy, which is transcendent. I have been complaining since the early 90s that there were no real pizza places anywhere. Now, they are opening everywhere.
Nancy Silverton is an American chef and baker who is the author of several cookbooks and has been at the forefront of efforts to revitalize sourdough and artisan breads in the United States. After attending Sonoma State University, Silverton trained at Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in London, England and at the Ecole Le Notre in Plaiser, France. She is the co-founder and head baker at La Brea Bakery as well as the head pastry chef at Campanile Restaurant, both in Los Angeles.
Silverton also owns two restaurants on the corner of Highland and Melrose in Los Angeles, Pizzeria Mozza and Osteria Mozza. Originally opened as a side venture, Pizzeria Mozza has garnered accolades for its artisan-style pizzas.
She knows more about bread and dough than anyone else in the world. Really.
I learned many things, my mind is still reeling. The chef made 2 versions, one in the professional wood fired oven (they use almond) and the other in a home oven. Surprisingly, the one in the home oven turned out really well. Very close to the wood fired pizza, minus the char.
Another thing I learned was that their tomato sauce is only tomatoes, salt and pepper. That’s it. No garlic. The over use of garlic in Italian restaurants is an American thing, not Italian. While they do use garlic, they don’t over do it. Also, they added the oregano / herbs after the pizza came out of the oven, which made it more flavorful.
Chef Chad Colby
Pizza dough is a breathing, living thing and very delicate. You can’t over work it!
Mushrooms – Chef Chad completely bathed the mushrooms in olive oil and put them in a 500 degree oven for 6 minutes. I am not an addict! I can’t tell you how good these were. Just mushrooms, olive oil, salt and pepper….
Mozza Pizzeria Mis en Place
Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich, and Nancy Silverton — the Italian dream team that unleashed some of the best Italian cuisine in Los Angeles via Pizzeria Mozza, Osteria Mozza, and Mozza 2Go — are opening chi SPACCA on February 4 in place of their Scuola di Pizza. Right now details are scarce but it seems likely that chi SPACCA, or “cleaver” in Italian, relates to chef Chad Colby’s wildly successful Salumi Bar nights which take place inside the Scuola. Back in May, Colby launched the first certified salumi program in Los Angeles.
My friend Chris and I are going to attempt to recreate the evening. I will go into a lot more detail then.
Here is the dough recipe. Nancy Silverton weighs all her ingredients, even the LA tap water!
Pizzeria Mozza Pizza Dough
22 oz warm tap water
1/2 oz compressed yeast
26 oz bread flour
1/2 oz dark rye flour (may substitute medium rye flour)
1/4 oz wheat germ
1/4 oz honey
1/2 oz kosher salt
Put the water in the bowl of a standing mixer. Add the yeast and let it sit for a few minutes to dissolve. Add the bread flour, rye flour, wheat germ, and honey and mix on low speed with a dough hook for 2 minutes. Add the salt, increase the speed to high, and mix the dough for 6 to 7 minutes, until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
While the dough is mixing, lightly grease a large bowl with olive oil. Turn the dough out of the bowl and wrap it tightly with plastic wrap. Tightly wrap the perimeter of the bowl with kitchen twine or with another piece of plastic wrap to further seal the bowl. Set the dough aside at moderate room temperature (68-70 degrees) for 45 minutes.
Dust your work surface lightly with flour and turn the dough out onto the floured surface. Turn the edges of the dough toward the center, acting as if the round has four sides. Turn the dough over and place it, folded side down, back in the bowl. Cover the bowl again with plastic wrap and set it aside for 45 minutes.
Dust your work surface again lightly with flour and turn the dough out onto the floured surface. Divide the dough into six equal segments, each weighing approximately 7 ounces. Gently tuck the edges of each round of the dough under itself. Shape each segment into a round. Cover the dough rounds with a clean dish towel and let them rest for 5 minutes.
Lightly flour your hands and use both hands pulling toward you to gather each round of dough into a taught ball. Dust a baking sheet generously with flour and place the dough rounds on the baking sheet. Cover the baking sheet with a dishcloth and set them again at moderate room temperature (68-70 degrees) for 1 hour. Leave the dough rounds at room temperature as you shape each round. Use the dough immediately.