Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dinner Last, Last Week : Pizza!

Dev and I have been living without a working fridge for the past couple of weeks - No food, No cooking, No fun. The repair man finally made it out yesterday morning, and I can't tell you how awesome it is to have a working fridge again. It seems silly, but boy... good times. Apologies for this old-ish post.
Pizza is one of our favorite foods! Dev calls it "the perfect food". 
Last year, we tested out a lot of pre-made options - Boboli Pizza Bread, Pilsbury Pizza Dough, Trader Joe's fresh Pizza dough, frozen pizzas with our own toppings, jarred pizza sauce, squeeze bottle pizza sauce, Trader Joe's refrigerated pizza sauce... good, but not great.
I finally gave in and attempted homemade pizza dough and sauce.

Preheat oven to 500F.

Pizza Dough
4 C bread flour
2 C warm water
2 1/2 tsp dry active yeast
1/4 tsp brown sugar or honey
3/4 T kosher salt
2 T olive oil

I love King Arthur Bread Flour. The end result is a much denser, chewy crust. I've tried all-purpose flour as well - it yields a much crispier, thin crust. If you do use all purpose flour, you'll probably use a little less water (1/4 C) - the dough will be VERY runny. Try not to overwork it - add no more than 1/4C additional flour, even if it looks like it needs more.

I usually measure out 1/2 C water (taken from the 2 C warm water) to proof the yeast. Add the brown sugar to yeast. Let sit for 10 minutes until bubbly.

Stir together flour and salt. Mix yeast, olive oil and warm water together. Slowly add to flour.

I sometimes add a spoonful of honey as well. Mix until combined.

Turn out dough onto board and knead for 5-8 minutes until smooth and elastic. Try not to add more than 1/4C additional flour.  NOTE: if you are using all-purpose flour, you will only lightly knead the dough. Again, don't be tempted to add more than 1/4C flour. It will seem  unusually sticky, but just put it in the oiled bowl. The texture will look right once it's risen.

Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with saran wrap and let rest in a warm place to rise for 1 - 1 1/2 hours.

Turn out dough onto board and cut in half.

Form into balls - cup with hands while turning edges inward and under into a pouch until ball is taught. Cover with saran wrap and let rest for 10 minutes.

This is my favorite pizza pan. 
It's made by Chicago Metallic and we picked it up at Cost Plus.

We tried another type of pan from Crate and Barrel, but the crust didn't get very crisp on the bottom. We also tried this pizza mesh from... I don't remember where we bought this, but I didn't care for the end result either. NOT crispy at all. I suppose if you had a real pizza oven, or brick oven, the results would differ.

Pizza sauce
1/2 onion, diced
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can diced tomatoes, pureed
half a can of tomato paste
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried basil
3/4 tsp onion powder
spoonful of honey
salt and pepper

Saute onion with 1T butter until soft, add garlic and saute until fragrant. Add tomato puree.

I LOVE this honey - a gift from my mah.

Add herbs, honey and simmer until thick. Add fresh ground pepper and salt to taste. You can puree this again, if you want a smoother consistency.


Oil pan. This is the odd part... don't flour the dough and roll out. With oiled hands, gently stretch, push and drape dough onto pan. Prick with fork.

Brush olive oil on top. Some of our favorite toppings: 6 cheese Italian blend, pepperoni and canadian bacon!

Spread half of the sauce on top (reserve the rest for the other half of the dough).

I usually put a light layer of cheese under the toppings - half pepperoni and half ham and pineapple. Top with a heavy dose of the cheese blend and fresh mozzarella slices. 

Place pizza on the very LOWEST rack in your oven. Bake for 13 minutes, or until cheese is melted and crust is golden. NOTE:  if you are making a plain cheese pizza, it will brown very fast - you'll probably take it out sooner, 10 or so minutes. Just keep a watchful eye.

You gotta try it with some Sriracha


By the way, another tasty appetizer you should try with this dough: brush with olive oil and top with caramelized onion, chopped dried dates, crumbled blue cheese and Gruyere cheese. Bake until crust is golden and drape prosciutto on top. YUM!

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