Friday, May 27, 2011

It's Pizza

Making your own home made pizza-is not a daunting task. You can prep everything a day in advance, so all you have to do is assemble the pizza before baking.

The dough needs an overnight rest, but it can spend an extra day in the fridge, if that works better, and some might say that it’s even better with the longer rest.

The dough is easiest to make with a stand mixer or food processor, but you can also knead it by hand. Since the gluten develops as the dough rests overnight, you don't need to knead it a lot - just enough for it to come together well.

Even better, pizza can be customized to suit different tastes without making it seem like everyone's eating a different meal. Add meat, vegetables, different sauces, cheese ... the variations are endless. Or keep it simple with a red sauce some simple toppings and cheese. My favorite is a sausage and mushroom pizza., but the sky is the limit - it's up to you.

For sauce, I prefer good-quality crushed tomatoes, straight from the can, sprinkled with some salt and oregano or basil. In season, fresh basil is great, but dried herbs work well when you don’t have fresh on hand. If you don’t have crushed tomatoes, you can also use tomato puree.

I like to use precooked toppings for my pizza. That way if I'm using sausage I know it's properly cooked. And pre-cooked vegetables have less moisture, so there’s less chance the pizza will be soggy from the extra liquid. And we all know that soggy pizza is a bad thing.

The best way to cook pizza is on a pizza stone. If you don't have one you can cook your pizza on a baking sheet, but the bottom won't be as crisp and you'll probably have to cook it longer.

A pizza peel makes transferring the pizza to the oven a lot easier, but if you don't have one, you can use the back of a cookie sheet instead.

Home Made Pizza

7 ounces cool water
2 teaspoons instant yeast
10 ounces flour (about 2 1/4 cups) bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

About 1/2 cup canned crushed tomatoes
About 1 teaspoon dried oregano
Italian sausage and/or pepperoni slices
about 1/2 pound fresh mushrooms
About 1 cup grated mozzarella

To make the crust:
Combine water, yeast, flour, and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer. Knead with the dough hook until the mixture is smooth. You don't need to knead until it is elastic - just until it is fully combined and it begins to become smooth.

Drizzle the oil into a zip-top bag. Remove the dough from the bowl, form in into a ball, and place it in the bag, making sure it is coated with the oil. Seal the bag and put it in the refrigerator to rest overnight.

To make the pizza:
About an hour before you want to bake the pizza, remove the dough from the refrigerator. Knead if briefly in the bag, then leave it on the counter for about 45 minutes to warm up. Preheat the oven to 550 degrees with a baking stone in the oven (if you have one).

If you haven't prepped your toppings yet, do it now. If you're using sausage, remove it from the casing, break it into pieces, and cook it completely in a frying pan. Remove it from the pan and set aside. If you're using mushrooms, slice them and cook them until they release their moisture, then continue cooking until the moisture is gone and the mushrooms begin to brown.

About 15 minutes before you are ready to bake, flour your work surface and remove the dough from the bag. Knead it briefly, then form it into a ball. Flatten the ball into a disk. Cover it with plastic wrap - or the bag it came out of - and let it rest for about 10 minutes.

Flatten the dough and roll or stretch it to a 13-14 inch circle, dusting it with flour as needed to keep it from sticking. Sprinkle a pizza peel with cornmeal and transfer the crust to it. Working quickly, top the dough with sauce, then sprinkle with the salt and oregano to taste. Add the sausage and other toppings, and top with the cheese. Shake the peel back and forth to make sure the pizza is moving freely, then transfer the pizza to the baking stone in the oven.

Bake for 4 minutes. Turn the pizza around for even baking. Bake another 4 minutes. Check the bottom of the pizza to make sure it’s done. Remove the pizza from the oven, slice, and serve.

This has been submitted to Yeastspotting.


Jen said...

homemade pizza is the absolute best. Nothing compares. Well expect wood fired pizza, very hard to re-create.

C Honeycutt said...

Great post! I love pizza and have been using
cast off sourdough starter (from your start along!) for my pizza's so freakin'

Anonymous said...

Now I NEED a pizza stone :D

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