The other week I showed you how I turn a ball of pizza dough into a crust, ready for topping. Today, thanks to the miracle of it's-still-football-marching-band-season-so-I'm-really-doing-this-on-Sunday-afternoon, I will show you how I make that ball of pizza dough. It is so simple, you've got to try this at home!
I tend to float between crust recipes, getting stuck on one for a while before switching it up. I think my current recipe came from Pioneer Woman. I got sick of looking it up each time and just emailed myself the particulars in February of 2011. Though looking up the email date referred me to a pizza dough email from King Arthur flour from Feb 2002 . . . good grief I've been making pizza for a long time.
|Still love this white spinach pizza the most.|
What do you need? Turns out, not much!I love my stand mixer--it's a refurb and I got it at midnight at an outlet mall Black Friday sale in Delaware while my spouse was deployed. If you don't know the particular brand of crazy your mind is at in that situation, trust me. It was well worth staying awake fighting the post-turkey coma. I have also made pizza dough in my blender, following the Vitamix recipe book. Fast and easy though a pain to clean. If you don't have a stand mixer or an amazing blender, the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes or Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes key recipe dough can also be mixed up and used as pizza dough. That only requires a spoon and a bucket--and gives you enough dough for 4 to 5 pizzas!
I'm going to detail the mixer method because that's what I'm doing (and therefore, photographing) these days. Ok, ready? Dump warm water into a bowl. Throw yeast on top. Dump all purpose and whole wheat flour on top. Add salt. Start to mix, using the paddle attachment. Pour in oil. Mixing a bit more. Stop and scrape the bowl. Mix a little bit more. That's it. Put the dough into an oiled bowl and flip it over so the top of the dough is oiled. Not too hard, right?
Cold water is your friend when dealing with dough. Don't try and wash your stuff in hot soapy water until after you've used cold water to get all the dough off. I also appreciate the little brown plastic scraper that I got with some Pampered Chef stoneware--it's great for scraping dough off the inside of the bowl.
If I'm feeling super-organized, I will toss 1 pound portions of dough into oiled gallon-size zip top bags in the freezer. The night before (ok, Thursday night since Friday Night is Pizza Night!), I move the bag to the fridge. When your kids get home from school they can move the dough to the counter, or, 2 hours before you're ready to eat, move the bag to the counter to let it come to room temperature.
However you've mixed your dough, it's better if the dough is at least a day old. I love this kind of cooking. While dinner is baking, or simmering, or otherwise not-hands-on, I can throw together a batch of dough and stick it in the refrigerator. It's easier to work with when I plan to make the pizza, and Pizza Night takes less time. Though if you use the Fleischmann's pizza yeast packets, like I do on occasion, they do fine mixed and baked the same evening.
Ok, I've got the dough--now what?
The next part's easy too. Sauce, toppings, cheese.
The variations of pizza sauce are probably endless. I have made pizzas with homemade or store bought tomato sauce. Ditto pesto. I also like artichoke antipasto, alfredo, garlic oil, and fig jam as my sauce base. Um, not all together though.
I keep some of the meat toppings (pepperoni, leftover breakfast sausage) and pesto in my freezer. In the fridge I frequently have sliced ham for lunchmeat, a jar of olives, a jar of artichoke hearts (or artichoke antipasto), and one of pizza sauce. Besides leftover breakfast sausage, other leftovers make their way onto my pizzas. Fried potatoes made a tasty pizza topping. A bit of leftover scrambled egg got tucked under a cheddar cheese mini pizza. Leftover cooked greens or other vegetables work well on a pizza.
I keep bags of shredded cheese for pizza in my freezer. My favorite is fontina, but shredded Italian blends or even straight mozzarella are all good. In addition to shredded cheese, I like goat cheese, gorgonzola, and feta cheese.
With these staples on hand, plus whatever fresh veggies come from the CSA farm share, it's easy to throw together a pizza.
Buy parchment paper.
I cannot stress enough how much simpler my pizza nights are when I use an oiled piece of parchment paper to stretch out and cook my pie on. Before I discovered parchment paper, I would routinely top a lovely pizza crust, slide it onto my cornmeal-covered pizza peel, open the oven, attempt to slide the crust off the peel, and watch my beautiful pizza crumple down the back wall of my oven while I screamed in frustration. Ask my neighbors in Hawaii if you don't believe me! I don't think the neighbors in the other places I've lived since I started using parchment paper ever heard that particular sound. Every fall in the US you can find many coupons for parchment paper in the Sunday paper. I stock up then because it's always nice to have a coupon for something I'm going to buy anyway.
Have a hot oven
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. I think mine could go hotter and I've seen recipes calling for 500 degrees but I'm chicken. You want the oven to hang out at this temperature for at least 30 minutes (longer if the dog gets loose). An hour is great. Except in summer. I have a baking stone that lives in my oven that I use for pizza.
Stretch out the dough until it's as thin as you want it. I usually go too thin and get a bunch of holes, but dough is forgiving (especially if it's a day old!). Just pinch it together and continue. If you let it sit a while (30 minutes or so) after stretching, your dough will rise a bit more giving you a slightly thicker crust.
Less is more
Top with sauce, starting at the smaller amount of the range and adding more until it looks good to you. Unless you are my child, then scrape off 50% of what you think is enough and put it on another pizza because you put too much sauce on. Remember what happened last time you used that much sauce?
Add your toppings, letting your
OCD personal sense of balance and symmetry be your guide. If I have cooked multiple veggies (such as chard and mushrooms) I'll distribute them each separately across the crust so they are each balanced. I'm weird like that.
I put my cheese last because it's easier for me to tell if the cheese is bubbly if it's not covered up with the all the toppings.
Time to bake
When your oven is good and hot, transfer the pizza into it. If you're using a stone, slide the parchment and pizza onto it using a peel or a cookie sheet to make the transfer
SFK easier. If you have no stone, keep the parchment on the cookie sheet and pop the whole thing in the oven.
After 5-8 minutes (the time it takes me to get the second pizza topped), the crust should be baked enough that you can shake it off the parchment. Save the parchment! I move the pizza back onto it when I'm ready to slice it. Saves on clean up.
Bake the pizza another 5 minutes directly on the stone or cookie sheet, until the cheese is browned and bubbly. Cool on a wire rack a few minutes then slice and serve.
Dough for 2 crusts
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) warm water
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt (I use kosher)
1/3 cup (80 ml) olive oil or oil blend
Toppings per pizza
1/4 to 2/3 cup sauce (see above)
1/2 to 1 1/2 cup (total) toppings (see above)
3/4 to 1 1/2 cups cheese (see above)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix up dough as above. Stretch onto oiled parchment. Top with sauce, toppings, and cheese. Bake for 5-8 minutes. Remove parchment paper. Continue to bake until cheese is bubbly. Cool a few minutes before slicing. Serve hot. Enjoy the next morning cold for breakfast.
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