Thursday, June 19, 2008

Making Pizza...

I love pizza. The number one fast food in America, and I love it. I'll eat it cold for breakfast if it is in the 'fridge. Put anything on it (even anchovies-in moderation) and it is a real meal. I'd eat it every day and not get tired of it, as long as I got to vary the toppings...

You can do that with pizza.

The only trouble is, it is getting expensive. I guess the cost of everything is being increased by the cost of everything else (see previous post). Whatever. Since I love to cook, and I've got to feed at least three teenagers every Friday ('cause Friday is "Pizza Night" and has been for about 16 years) I have decided to dive into rolling my own.

Fun stuff.

The hardest part has been perfecting the crust. I think I have just about nailed the dough recipe, and I am still playing with oven temp to get that just-right doneness on the bread without burning the cheese. You know...food experimentation. Alton Brown would be proud.

Here's my dough recipe:

2 ¼ Cups Water, 85°-110°F
1 Tbsp Sugar
4 ½ Tsp Active Dry Yeast (or 2 packages, I use Red Star)
1 Tsp Salt
¼ Cup Olive Oil
4 (+) Cups King Arthur Bread Flour
4 (+) Cups King Arthur All-Purpose Flour

Instructions:

Combine Water, Sugar, and Yeast in mixing bowl of Stand Mixer (I use a Kitchen Aid 325 Watt, 5 quart) and allow mixture to sit for 3-5 minutes until foamy. Add salt and oil and stir until salt dissolves.

Add Flour and mix with dough hook at low speed until smooth dough ball forms. (If necessary, add additional flour to smooth out the mixture, but not more than an additional ½ cup.)

Allow dough to rest and rise, covered, until doubled in bulk. Punch down and divide into 3 equal portions. Cover, and allow dough to rise again until doubled in bulk.

Roll out on board coated with 50/50 mixture of flour and corn meal, transfer to stone, pan, screen, whatever, and top with sauce and toppings.

I bake them at 450F for about 15 minutes. I use 13" pizza stones and get 3 nice, thick, crusts that are light and a little chewy. If you like your pizza dough with more "chew", use all Bread Flour (instead of half) or you can even go to a high-gluten flour. You can also increase the olive oil and reduce the water (1:1 substitution-up to 3/4 cup of oil-but I like the lighter flavor and texture of this ratio).

You can make this dough as much as a day in advance, but you will have to use COLD water for the yeast, and proof the dough in the refrigerator to slow down the rise (only one rise this way too). Your dough will be even heartier this way since the gluten will have had more time to form in the bread dough. Make sure you cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap if you put it in the 'fridge, so you don't get stray odors from last night's fish or last week's chinese leftovers. You know you have some of that in there...

I make a nice sauce too, but that is another post altogether. Sauces and toppings. Mmmmm. Maybe two posts. :)

The best thing to come out of rolling my own pizza? I get to spend a little more time with the kids and their friends. I know where they are on Friday night, since they are in my kitchen helping make their own special, custom pizza pies. The $30 a week I save is just pure added bonus.

Try it. The Domino's down the block might not like you for it, but I assure you that you will enjoy the process and the pizza. Your kids might even stay home on Friday night.

Cheers!

Newbius