Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I <3 Making Pizza

Do you make your own pizza? You really should. It is super easy and the results are delicious.

Let me tell you something. I LOVE pizza. It is definitely the first item on my desert island list. I am not a pizza snob by any means. I enjoy your frozen pizzas, pizza hut, fancy wood-oven fired, NY style, Chicago deep dish and of course, mine own. My family has had a tradition of making pizzas for Christmas, mainly because it was a dish we could all take part in. Spreading out the dough, laying down the sauce, sprinkling the cheese and placing the toppings- all things that are fun to do whether you are 5 or 75.

If you choose to dig around looking for pizza recipes, you will find about a million different ways to do it. Our Christmas pizza dough was made same day and needed about 1 1/2 hours to rise, we patted it in a baking sheet before baking the large, rectangular shaped pies. Deb of Smitten Kitchen read my mind and posted this recently which is a great starting point for first-timers.

This post is the story of one pizza.

I have been playing with this dough recipe for a little over a year now. It does take some forethought as you must mix it up the night before. But it really only takes 5 minutes to do so- well worth it! The other trick is that it must be taken out of the fridge 2 hours prior to baking.This dough is "wahfer thin" when you stretch it out so you must be careful! I have not yet had the balls to try tossing it but I have had great success just stretching it on my hands using the method described in the recipe. Make sure to put some cornmeal or semolina down on the surface you are baking or transferring on so the dough will slide write off. You need a VERY HOT oven to cook this successfully. So turn your oven on 45 mins before you want to cook it as high as it will go. I turn on the convection goodness in mine. (but you'll be fine if you don't have it) You will have the best results baking it on a stone but you could definitely bake it on the back of a baking sheet as Deb suggests in her list.

The trick with this dough is to top it AS LIGHTLY AS POSSIBLE. Heavy sauce and wet ingredients will make this dough go soggy in a flash. I was on a search for a pizza sauce of my youth (another story, another time...) and found this recipe for Egyptian tomato sauce. Although not exactly the sauce I was dreaming of- it is a very strongly flavored sauce that you only need a touch of to impart great flavor. I added a little oregano to mine to make it feel more "Italian" I'm sure it would be fine without it. As you can see I am only putting the thinnest of layers here.

Leave your fresh mozzarella for your caprese salad. It is just too wet for this dough. Shavings of your finest semi-skim will be fine here. This in fact is probably a bit to much. The cheese, she is greazy.

Stand back when you open that furnace! If you are unfamiliar working with a pizza peel, be gentle and use little jerking motions to transfer the pizza to the cooking surface. It will actually take a few tries to get the technique down. And if you squinch up a pizza or two in the process? So what! They will still taste delicious! This pizza will cook in 4-8 mins depending on your oven. Mine took 6. At the four minute mark I open the oven to check and see if the pizza needs to be rotated. (Check if one side is browning faster than the other if it is, swivel the pizza around. I am butch enough to just do this with my fingers but you could also use a spatula or something. pussy.) This one looked fine!

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Did you see that?

Aw yeah, that is one gorgeous ass pizza.

Feta cheese and black olives are one of my favorite topping combos. Note how sparingly they were applied!

This recipe makes many, manageably sized pizzas. Start small as you're learning and then you can cut the dough in larger pieces. This was only half the dough recipe- the rest is in my freezer for another day. The whole baking/assembly process takes about 1/2 an hour which makes it a total weeknight meal! The very tiny pizza is a round of dough that I effed up on. But you know what? It was still delicious!


Stacy said...

That post made me hungry for lunch and it is only 9am. I need some more weeknight yummy meal ideas - thanks for sharing!

Lakeview Coffee Joe said...

Yummy!! When's dinner?? A fun weekend dinner to make.

Styling with Renee Michelle said...

Mmmm. And this post is perfectly timed for me - I just finished my lunch of leftover pizza. Lately I've been making lots of pizzas with a medium thick crust, and this lets me add (in addition to the sauce, cheese, and a veggie or two) a bunch of raw eggs, which cook on top. Yum.

Dad said...

Did you know in many cultures it is considered the height of good breeding, culture and honor to have fresh made pizza ready when one's parents arrive at your doorstep after a long flight?

Xani said...

Oooo... homemade pizza! Must try this once the new kitchen is in order. Have you ever tried pizza on the grill? Seems like a challenge but I bet it tastes great!

stef said...

xan- i have yet to try grilled pizza- which is a travesty considering how often we grill. I will try to do it soon. First one to post about it wins?

Erin said...

OMG how good do those pizzas look!? The super-thin crust is quite the challenge and it looks like you have become a master. Congrats!

alexis said...

as I recall the pizza tradition also came out of the fact that it was the only food everyone could agree on.. :)

I am thrilled to see you've taken your love of pizza to new heights!