This is the next in our series of educators featured in our Bake Twentyfive issue. Each weekday, we will spotlight a new instructor or educator in the fields of baking, pastry, and chocolate.
Give him a moment, and Peter Reinhart will tell you about the best toasted bread you may ever enjoy. Perhaps his best-known bread is Struan, which he now makes in a variation of the multigrain bread that opens up possibilities for grain variations. Substituting millet, quinoa, amaranth or buckwheat for the corn or oats (or simply adding them to the blend) can be accomplished with a soaked method without precooking the grains.
“I say this with the confidence of hundreds of customer testimonials: This bread and its variations makes the best toast in the world,’’ he says. “Because it is sweetened with both honey and brown sugar, it caramelizes quickly, both while baking and especially when toasting. The many grains hold onto moisture so that, while the slices crisp up when toasted, they also retain a moist sweetness.”
Reinhart is a Johnson & Wales baking instructor and author of many wonderful books, including the forthcoming “Perfect Pan Pizza,” due out next year. Bread and pizza are his passions, and he shares amazing ideas for everything from Detroit-style, Roman-style, Sicilian and Grandma-style pizzas, to such breads as Pain à l’Ancienne, sprouted wheat flour and barley batards and sprouted wheat bialys.
Reinhart is a multiple James Beard Award winner for his cookbooks and is the founder and host of the popular website PizzaQuest.com, where he continues to chronicle his never-ending search for the perfect pizza through videos, essays and recipes.
“There is a new wave in America where Roman-style pizzas are going to be popping up,” he tells our class on the first day. “My goal is it’s all about the crust. An average topping on a great crust can be memorable. Memorable is the key word — that it is so much better than expected you can’t get it out of your head.”
One critical step involves making pizza dough at least 24 hours ahead, so that you are releasing all the flavors through chemistry, he explains.
The Detroit-style red-stripe pizza is a good start, to perfect your system. Five hours prior to baking, begin panning and dimpling the dough at 20-minute intervals in a greased pan using olive oil. After an hour or two, the dough will relax enough to cover the pan after a final dimpling. This is when you spread on top and embed into the dough half of your measured cheese cubes. Rather than grate the cheese, Reinhart says, cut the cheese into cubes so they melt at the right time.
Doughs for Roman-style pizzas follow a similar method, minus the cheese toppings. The master dough is always made at least one day ahead. Toppings include crushed tomato or marinara pizza sauce, olive oil, coarse sea salt and fresh oregano. “The wetter dough of Roman-style pizza is the secret to why this dough is so good,” he adds. “It allows it to rise with more air pockets. The trick on wet dough is using a lot of oil.”
For Reinhart, “the mission of the baker is to evoke the full potential of flavor trapped in the grain,” he says. “It is my feeling that sprouted grains are going to get bigger and bigger. Sprouting the grain makes the grain taste better, in my opinion. We are right at the tipping point of sprouted grains becoming a bigger part of the American diet.”