Thursday, August 28, 2008

Weeknight pizza

A bowl full of rising dough just makes me happy.

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I was a little tired when I got home last night, but the thought of handmade dough sounded comforting. And it's really so much easier than you might think. I don't even break out the mixer for this one (and I am notoriously lazy about handmixing as a rule), just stir it all together with a wooden spoon and then knead it well and leave it to rise in the warmest place I can find.

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TJ's sausage, red onions, roasted bell peppers (also from TJs), cheese

These are our standard pizza toppings because I always have this stuff on hand. We both prefer cheeses other than mozzarella. Parrano is our usual standby - it's a little like gouda.

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I like a super thin crust, so I roll it out accordingly.

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I pre-heat the oven as high as it will go (500F) with the pizza stone inside. Then I pull the pizza stone out, quickly lay out the dough and the toppings and get it back inside the oven as quickly as possible. Make sure you have good oven mitts.

My go to pizza dough recipe is adapted from The Practical Encyclopedia of Baking, which I randomly picked up on sale at some point. It has step by step photos for lots of basic recipes, which I've found helpful.

Pizza Dough (makes enough for 2 thin crust pizzas or 1 thicker crust pizza)
3/4 cup lukewarm water (just barely warm to the touch)
2 tsp yeast
1/2 tsp sugar or honey
2 1/4 cups flour (I use a blend of white and whole wheat)
2 tbsp olive oil

  1. Mix the water, yeast and sweetener together and allow to stand for 10 minutes. The mixture should be bubbly by the time you come back to it - if it isn't, your yeast isn't working. This is called proofing and you can skip the step, but I usually at least do a quick check. The yeast needs warmth and a little bit of sugar to be active, but water over 110F will kill it.

  2. While the yeast proofs, measure out your flour, salt and olive oil.

  3. Mix everything together until it forms a dough. I often have to add just a little bit more water at this point, but you don't want to get your dough too wet.

  4. Knead your dough. If you used a mixer for the previous step, you might not have to knead for very long, because the mixer has done some of the work for you. I like to do this by hand, and I usually end up kneading the dough for about 10 minutes. It's a good arm workout. The dough should be nice and smooth when you are done. Form it into a ball and put it back in bowl. Cover loosely with either plastic wrap or a damp kitchen cloth and place it in the warmest place in your house.

  5. Let it rise for 45 minutes or so, or until doubled in size. If it's cold, sometimes my dough barely rises and it still works out. It's pretty forgiving. Roll it out to your desired thickness on a lightly floured surface.
That's it! Make sure your oven (and your pizza stone) is pre-heated and have all the toppings ready when you get your stone out. The pizza doesn't have to cook for very long - maybe 10 or 15 minutes, depending on the heat of your oven and the thinness of your crust.

It takes just a little bit longer than calling out for pizza, and it feels about a million times more satisfying.

4 comments:

  1. Cupcakes and CashmereAugust 28, 2008 at 11:19 AM

    we had pizza last night too! sadly, ours was frozen from Amy's and yes, not very satisfying. i'm thinking of giving it another go tonight, except doing it your way.

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  2. Homemade pizza sounds wonderful. Got to save this one to try in Fall.

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  3. I know this is an old post, but we just tried the recipe for pizza dough and it was amazing! Hands down the best homemade pizza we've ever had.

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