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Saturday, 18 February 2017

tri-Tail Pizza Recipe

By popular demand, I am hereby publishing the recipe for the legendary pizza, which I have honed for over a decade by now. Enjoy it, savour it, and think of the Once & Future World-Travelling Fox whenever you prepare this legendary dish.

Serving Size

One tray of pizza is enough to feed 2-4 ravenous lions, 3-6 hungry foxes, or 4-8 modest cats - based on how much toppings and cheese you put on it. Do not attempt to eat a whole pizza by yourself. People have tried. You have been warned.

The Utensils

  • Oven
  • Large Bowl
  • Medium Bowl
  • Pizza Tray
  • Pizza Cutter

The Ingredients

  • 325g+ Flour
  • 175ml+ Water
  • 1kg Cheese, ideally an equal mix of:
    • Solid Cheddar
    • Pre-grated Mozarella
    • Pre-grated Emmental
    • Pre-grated Gouda
  • 1 satchel of instant Yeast
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 can (~400ml) of Pizza Sauce
  • 1 Onion
  • The following herbs & spices:
    • Salt
    • Pepper
    • Tarragon
    • Thyme
    • Marjoram
    • Paprika
    • Oregano
    • Basil
    • Herbes de Provence
    • Rosemary
    • Granulated Onion
  • Whatever toppings you desire
If some types of cheese cannot be obtained, substitute them in equal parts with available cheese. The one type of cheese that absolutely cannot be substituted, however, is the Cheddar, as it is essential to the recipe. Do not attempt to substitute the Cheddar for an inferior ingredient. Seriously. Malevolent glaive-wielding cow spirits from the doom-dimension will kill you in your sleep if you do.

Part 1: The Base

  1. Grate the Cheddar using a fine grater.
  2. Put 325g of Flour into the Large Bowl.
  3. Add 1 satchel of Instant Yeast to the Large Bowl.
  4. Add ~100g finely, freshly-grated Cheddar to the Large Bowl.
  5. Add about ½TBS of each of the herbs & spices to the Large Bowl.
  6. Add 175ml Water to the Large Bowl.
  7. Add about 2TBS of live Oil to the Large Bowl.
  8. Knead the dough by hand, adding water or flour as needed until all the ingredients have combined into one speckled, sand-coloured ball, which is not or just barely sticky anymore.
  9. Let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes, ideally one hour or longer.
After step 9, outside bowl for visibility

Kneading the dough is the trickiest part of the process. Usually, the first mixture is a bit dry, so I always make sure I have a cup of water within arm's reach, so I can add it as needed. Likewise, you will also want to have the flour nearby to treat the dough if it gets too sticky. Ideally, you'll add just enough water to make the dough kinda sticky (so it starts pulling off in sticky strings), and then add about a handful of flour to it to give it a good finish.

After this part, you can allow yourself some time to do something else as the dough rises. You can theoretically prepare the pizza sauce in advance during this time, but I usually do that at a later point. If you want to prepare the pizza sauce in advance, simply perform steps 9 through 12 of the next part now rather than in sequence with the other steps. However, if you don't have any helpers, you might want to prepare whatever toppings you intend to have on the pizza during this time.

Part 2: Pre-Baking & Sauce Mix

  1. Grease the Pizza Tray with Olive Oil.
  2. Place the dough on the Pizza Tray.
  3. Cover your hands in Flour and sprinkle some Flour over the dough.
  4. Form the dough into a round or square shape as desired. Sprinkle more flour over it if it gets too sticky.
  5. Form the crust by pinching up the dough around the edges until it is about 1cm above the surface of the pizza.
  6. Gently trace the lines of the intended pieces with a Pizza Cutter. Ideally, you want to see the cutting lines as clear indentations which do not fully penetrate.
  7. Place the tray in the Oven, and set the Oven to 220°C at pizza setting, fan bake setting, fan setting, or bake setting.
  8. Pre-bake the base for 10 minutes or longer, until the first parts of the dough just start changing colour.
  9. While the base is in the oven, pour the Pizza Sauce into the Medium Bowl.
  10. Dice one Onion, and add it to the Medium Bowl.
  11. Add about 200g total combined of all available cheese to the Medium Bowl.
  12. Stir the mixture until it turns into a pasty, uniform, orange-red sauce, adding more cheese if needed.
  13. Remove the base from the Oven once it's baked. Leave the Oven running so it stays hot.
  14. Lightly trace the previously outlined lines with the Pizza Cutter again. Ideally, you want to cut the surface of the pizza, but not the bottom.
After step 5

To see if there's enough cheese in the sauce, I like to employ the good old spoon-test: Place the spoon on the surface of the sauce. If it sinks, you haven't added enough cheese. On the other hand, if the sauce becomes difficult to stir, then it's probably enough cheese.

If you are not making individually dressed pieces, you can skip all the cutting steps in this and the next part (as I did in the pictures), and just cut the pizza in the very end.I do not recommend this, as decorating your own piece is always a highlight of the pizza experience. However, especially when making pizza for a large number of people, this may not be feasible, and you might find yourself decorating the pizzas on your own.

Also, if you have helpers, the ten minutes during which the base is pre-baking are the ideal time to ask them to prepare the toppings: It keeps them busy and they will comment on how good the pizza smells already.

Part 3: Decorating

  1. Spread the pizza sauce mix evenly over the base, excluding the crust.
  2. Trace the lines of the pieces into the pizza sauce mix using the Pizza Cutter. Ideally, at this point you do not want to cut the base at all, but rather outline the boundaries of the individual pieces.
  3. The pizza is now ready to be decorated. Call your friends and divide up the pieces amongst one another, then put whatever you like on it.
After step 1

Here's some tips for "building" a really great pizza:
  • When adding multiple layers of toppings, put a layer of cheese between each one. It helps stabilize your piece, and will make it easier to eat later on.
  • Likewise, make sure to put a layer of cheese on the very top, as it will stabilize the structure of your piece, and "glue" the toppings together.
  • Feeling hungry? Don't be afraid to build high stacks of toppings. Since the base is quite sturdy, it can support stacks of 10cm and more! This has been proven time and time again by my friends.
  • Also, make sure you remember who has which piece. This may seem trivial, but I've consistently experienced confusion about which piece belongs to whom after the pizza is done, since the pieces tend to look a lot alike in the end. Use a "Pizza Map" if you need.
As for what to decorate your pizza with... that's a question of your (and your friends') personal taste. However, if you are looking for ideas and inspiration, here's a number of ingredients that you might want to try:
  • White or Brown Button Mushrooms
  • Chanterelle Mushrooms
  • Dried Boletus Mushrooms (leave them to soak for at least 30 mins)
  • Big or small Salami
  • Ham
  • Anchovies
  • Bell Peppers
  • Hot Peppers
  • Zucchini
  • Olives
  • Sliced Chester
  • Pesto
You can also experiment with more exotic toppings, as long as you're willing to take responsibility for it. If you use egg, make sure that all your friends are okay with that, as it tends to spread over all the pieces, no matter how well you try to contain it. Also, let me point out here that putting chocolate on your pizza is NOT a good idea. Believe me. One of my friends tried.

After step 3

Part 4: Baking

  1. Put the pizza into the pre-heated Oven. It might be quite heavy by now, so make sure to use both hands.
  2. Bake the pizza for 15 minutes at 220°C at pizza setting, fan bake setting, fan setting, or bake setting. The pizza is ready when the first black spots start to appear on the crust or the cheese.
  3. Carefully remove the pizza from the Oven. Again, use both hands, and be quick about it, lest hot oil seeps into your mittens/teacloth.
  4. Thoroughly cut the pieces with the Pizza Cutter. You may need to go over the cuts several times, since the last bit is always the hardest.
  5. The pizza is now ready to be served! Call your friends over to identify their pieces, facepalm when they can't figure out which piece belongs to whom (told you), and eventually just hand out the pieces randomly. Enjoy your pizza!
  6. Oh yeah, and don't forget to turn off that Oven now.
After step 3

If you have multiple piece per person, it pays to just hand out one piece each at this point, and leave the others in the warm Oven for now. tri-Tail Pizza still tastes good cold, but to experience the full epic sensation that will explode your taste buds, you want to eat it warm.

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