Wednesday, March 30, 2011

BEST THING I'VE LEARNED IN AWHILE: PIZZA DOUGH


I thank Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian (best Christmas present 2010) for most of my recent recipe favorites.  This one I can now make half asleep.  It's invaluable because its so flexible, cheap, and kid-friendly.   If I throw together the dough in the morning I can stick it in the fridge for 5 or 8 hours to slow its rising, take it out, and have it ready in 1/2 an hour to load into the oven. Sometimes I split the dough in half with Alice and let her make her own small pizza while I make a small salt and herb white pizza (olive oil + fresh rosemary + sea salt).

Alice  can also make the dough. We do it with a wooden spoon and then our hands. Why wash a food processor?  Actually, we don't have a food processor.  Ditto for a pizza pan or stone.  We just make a large oval pizza on our cookie sheet. When we split the dough, Alice uses a 9" metal cake pan and I use the cookie sheet. You can pretty much use anything.

Note: You cook pizza at the hottest setting your stove has.  

Mix in a bowl:  3 cups all purpose flour, 2 tsp. instant yeast, 2 tsp. salt. Add 2 T. olive oil and one cup water. Stir with wooden spoon until it starts to come together, then start using your hands until you make a smooth ball. If it's too dry add a little more oil or a little more water.

Pour a bit more oil into the bowl and sit the dough on it. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise until it doubles in size. This takes an hour or more. Once it's risen, push it down again and reshape into a ball or two balls and let rise again for 20 minutes. Then press dough flat with hands or roller or booze bottle.  You can do this on a "floured surface" but why make a mess? I just do it directly on the cookie sheet which I oil a little first.

Note:  Try never to rip dough.  If it gets hard to handle, let it rest for five minutes before stretching again.

Cover with tomato sauce and toppings. It's best to pre-cook the toppings. Fewer toppings are better (so says Mark B.).  Bake in hot hot oven until crust starts to brown.

Note: I don't particularly like that I'm using all white flour, but after experimenting with various amounts of whole wheat, I've decided it tastes best just plain white and I make up for the wholesomeness with the toppings -- but I'm not done experimenting.    

My next kitchen gadget will definitely be a pizza cutter.

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