The main thing was I baked at too low a temperature. Since I only recently bought my spiffy new thermometer, my bet is that I’ve been doing this all along. The consequence is that not enough heat is penetrating the dough fast enough, which means I’m having to leave the pizza in the oven longer, which means I’m browning the cheese, and that’s not kosher from a traditional Neapolitan pizza standpoint. In Italy, pizza cheese is never browned (or if it is only very delicately), since browning destroys the aromas of good buffalo mozzarella, which should be savored.
But whether that sounds like a lotta hooey to you or not, the real problem is that the dough isn’t puffing up like I’d like. Again, that puffy edge comes from big heat penetration and a near-explosive expansion of steam when the pizza hits the oven floor. Foom. My trouble isn’t that I’m not getting steam expansion, I am, but it’s coming too late. When the pizza sits for even 30 seconds in a medium-hot brick oven, a brittle skin forms on the exterior of the crust (i.e. it bakes and dries out), which means that no matter how much steam builds up inside it, it won’t be able to puff up. The skin will constrain the steam and interior crumb like a corset. The time to get a puff is when the skin is nice and moist and elastic, which is to say, in the first fifteen or twenty seconds of baking.
Alright, back to the drawing board. But for the record, it still tasted great.