Monday, January 18, 2010

Pizza Your Way

A year ago I took a pizza class with my Dad at King Arthur Flour in Vermont. Ever since, I have been making awesome pizza at home. I got a pizza stone for my birthday and use that when I remember to preheat it in the oven first, but even when I forget and cook it on a cookie sheet, the pizza is delicious, fresh, hot, and rarely makes leftovers.

The crust ingredients are straight from King Arthur. I won't even bore you with their instructions, which are good, but unnecessarily complicated.

The whole process takes about 2 hours start to finish.

Crust

Makes enough for 2 "personal" sized pizzas. Double or triple as needed. Because of the packing nature of flour, it is best to weigh it; if you don't have a kitchen scale, use a spoon to fluff flour in its container, then add a spoonful at a time into the cup measure, gently shaking flour from spoon.

2 cups (8 ounces) all-purpose flour (I often do half whole wheat)
1 1/4 teas. instant yeast
3/4 teas. salt
1 TBSP (1/2 ounce) olive oil
1/2 to 3/4 cup (4 to 6 ounces) warm water

In a large bowl, add dry ingredients and use a whisk to mix. Use a dough cutter or spoon to stir in olive oil.

Add the minimum amount water, keeping in mind you will probably need to add it all. You want a wet but not sloppy dough. Once you have added all the water you need to, mix just enough to get a fairly cohesive mass and turn it onto a floured surface.

Knead it until it is smooth and shiny and when you gently poke it with your finger, it springs back quickly, ~ 3-5 minutes.

Put into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

When it has doubled in bulk, remove from bowl and put on a floured surface. Gently stretch the dough until it is the shape and thickness you want. Tears are okay: just gently mush them back together.

Variation: roll out on semolina flour for a crunchier crust.

Pizza sauce

1 TBSP olive oil
2 cloves crushed or minced garlic
1 28 oz. can tomato sauce
oregano, salt, and pepper to taste

In a sauce pan, heat olive oil and add garlic, stirring constantly until just fragrant, ~ 1 minute.

Add tomato sauce and spices and cook until bubbling. Turn off and let sit until needed.

Pizza toppings
You'll need ~ 8 oz mozzarella cheese for the above amount of dough.
Make sure any vegetables are sautéed first, otherwise they will make the pizza very wet.

Use whatever strikes your fancy. My favorites are:
sautéed onions and garlic
pepperoni
roasted red pepper
sautéed mushrooms

When dough is looking close to doubled in size, ~ 30 minutes before you want to eat, preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Prep dough. Put on a cookie sheet or, if using a pizza stone, onto the backside of a cookie sheet which has some semolina flour on it so dough will slip off onto stone. Lightly brush dough with olive oil, then add a layer of sauce. Cover with cheese and toppings.

Put into the hot oven, either on cookie sheet or slipped onto the stone. Cook until cheese bubbles and dough is puffing, ~ 10 minutes.

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