Thursday, July 15, 2010

Homemade Pizza

Who doesn't LOVE pizza? Everything about it screams comfort and deliciousness. Carbs, cheese, veggies... what more could you ask for in a meal?

I found a recipe for pizza dough from scratch in my trusty copy of Baking Illustrated. I decided I was up for the challenge and delved right in.

Pre-heat oven to 500 degrees. If you have a pizza stone, put it in there while pre-heating so the stone can get nice and hot.

Here's what you'll need:

1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees)
1 envelope (about 2.25 tsp instant yeast
1 1/4 cups water at room temp
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cups (22 oz) bread flour, plus more for dusting work surface
1 1/2 tsp salt
olive oil or non=stick cooking spray for oiling the bowl.

Bloom the packet of yeast in 1/2 c. of warm water for 5 minutes.

Add to it 2 tablespoons of olive oil and and additional 1 1/4 cups of warm water. These are your wet ingredients.

Put the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Blend it up. While the processor or mixer is going, add in all but a few tablespoons of your wet ingredients. If the dough dos not readily form into a ball, add the remaining liquid. Use your dough hook if using a stand mixer. (You can do this by hand if you don't have a stand mixer or a food processor)

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead by hand for a few strokes until it forms a smooth round ball.

Put the dough in an oiled bowl and let sit for 2 hours in a warm dry place.

Once 2 hours have passed, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and press it down to deflate it.

Now this recipe asks that you cut the dough into 3 sections. It should make 3 small pizzas. I cut it in half because I didn't have the time or patience to cook 3 separate pizzas on this particular night.

At this point, you come to a fork in the road. Do you have a pizza stone? Or are you going to bake on a cookie sheet? Before you roll out the dough, you need to know how you're cooking it.

~If you have a pizza stone, then hopefully you have a pizza peel, too. Roll out the dough and put it on the peel. Top with ingredients on the peel... It is quite a tricky process to get a fully loaded unbaked pizza off your work surface and onto the pizza stone without damaging it in some way, unless you have a peel. I actually don't have one, so I just do it on a wood cutting board with plenty of cornmeal laid down before I start to press out the dough. With the help of a spatula and a quick jerking motion, you can slide the unbaked pile of yummy goodness onto the pizza stone.

~If you don't have a pizza stone and want to bake this on a cookie sheet or pan, just shape the dough directly on the baking sheet. Top it with your faves and pop it in!

On ours, we used up some ingredients we had lying around: sun dried tomatoes, sliced black olives, fresh sliced garlic and bacon! It was soooo good. The bacon added a nice smoky flavor that hit the spot.

Bake until the crust is browned and the cheese is bubbly and golden, about 8-12 minutes. You want to make sure you give it enough time, even though it sometimes looks like it is done, the crust can still be doughy. Doughy is not what we're goin' for here.

I like to let it sit for a minute so the cheese can set. When you're ready, cut and serve!

**If you don't have 2 hours to wait around before dinner while your dough proofs, you can make it in the morning, cover it and leave it in the fridge all day. It will proof just fine in there, as I have learned from the book Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. It will retain it's shape better at room temp when you're rolling it out, so keep that in mind.

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