What a Girl Wants: Pizza

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After mixing all ingredients

Say it with me now, pizza. Mmmm, pizza.

I have an affinity for pizza. Ok, really it’s a torrid love affair and I’m never letting it go. Pizza made at home is a real treat and one that I love to indulge in.

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After kneading until *roughly* smooth

Pizza Dough:

Recipe adapted from Alexandra’s Kitchen, originally by Todd English.

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 2/3 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil

I like this recipe for several reasons. One, most ingredients are 2 teaspoons in quantity (duh, no brainer, I don’t have to think much here). Two, there’s a minimal amount of whole wheat flour included and whole wheat flour is awesome. Also, I make this entire recipe in one bowl, grossly ignoring the rules of engagement for pizza dough making. I also ignore the existing rules that require dividing the dough before the initial rise period; let the record show, I used to do this, I just got lazy and found minimal difference to justify expending the added energy.

Onto the steps:

  1. In a large bowl, combine water (It should be slightly warmer than room temperature but not actually warm, Alexandra has excellent instructions on how to create perfect lukewarm water if you’re in need of guidance.) with sugar (sometimes I substitute honey and it works just fiiiiiine) and sprinkle yeast on top. Allow mixture to stand until yeast sort of bubbles/foams.
  2. Once the yeast is foamy, give it a stir and then mix in olive oil, salt, and then flours. If you’re feeling supremely ambitious, you can premix the flours and salt, but I have yet to be inconvenienced by lumping everything together.
  3. Stir ingredients together until you have a sticky dough, you could also do all of this in your stand mixer (known affectionately in my mother’s house as the “kitchen tractor”) if you have the means. Personally, I use intense stirring/kneading as a sort of therapy, but I pass no judgments for working smarter instead of harder.
  4. Once the dough is to this point, I usually coat my hands in oil (olive, canola, honestly whatever is closest at the time) and throw a couple of punches/knead it by punching down the center and folding in the edges, spinning the bowl in a circle, until it’s smooth.
  5. If you’re feeling spicy, you can transfer the dough mass to a new bowl which you’ve conveniently coated in previously specified oil. If you’re me and you have a neurosis that requires you to wash every single dish as you use it, you’ll probably continue your “one pot” method and drizzle oil around the edges of the bowl. Now, lift the sticky mass with one hand and use your free hand to coat the bowl in oil (just ignore the specks of flour/water/glue stuck to the sides of the bowl) and then make sure your dough is lightly coated in oil as you plop it down into the bowl.
  6. Tweet me and let me know that my recipe is far too detailed but still quite helpful.
  7. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for 2-12 hours. Consider oiling the center of the inside of your plastic wrap if you’re using a shallow bowl, this will help prevent the risen dough from sticking to the plastic. As far as the rising time is concerned, I tend to go by how late in the day I’m making the dough and when I intend on using it. Today, for example, I let my dough rise for 6 ish hours because I had errands to run. The longer the rise, the more complex the flavors. Make sure your dough stays tightly covered though, otherwise it will develop a crusty sort of, well, crust during the rise.
  8. Once you’re satisfied with the rise, punch the dough down (exactly like it sounds) and divide it into 4 pieces. I should have warned you, I usually oil my hands again for this. If you’re super savvy, you can use a digital scale to precisely divide the dough, I just eyeballed it today because I didn’t feel like cleaning my scale. Shape the quadrants into balls.
  9. Coat the balls with oil (the twelve year old in me is giggling uncontrollably) and either bundle with plastic wrap (see photo) or plop into sandwich size Ziploc bags. I highly recommend the latter option as the dough will continue to rise in the fridge and the plastic wrap method tends to come loose somewhere and you get that crust I mentioned earlier (deliberately not pictured).

    You can store these little bundles in the fridge for up to several days, or freeze for several weeks/months. Ziplocs are your best friend, in my opinion, I nearly always have spillage/crust. If you’re using from the refrigerator, leave on the counter as the oven preheats before shaping. If you’re using from the freezer, allow to sit out and thaw for about an hour before preheating the oven and shaping.

For the baking: preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, set a cooking rack in the top 3rd of the oven beforehand. Cover a half sheet pan with parchment paper and coat the parchment paper with a small coat of aforementioned oil. To work your dough, either unwrap and sprinkle with flour or coat your hands with oil. Work quickly but gently, pulling from the center out until the disc is 8-10 inches in diameter. The trick is to handle the dough as minimally as possible to retain the gas inside, this is how we get tasty crust bubbles.

Coat your dough with a thin later of whatever the hell you want, then bake for 12 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through. Be careful when you open the oven to rotate, mine is always full of smoke and I end up stinging my eyes. Remove from oven, transfer to cutting board, cut, scarf.

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You get an artsy black and white photo of my pizza, because it was dark when I made dinner and I had no more natural light remaining. But my pizza was delicious! I caramelized onions and used fresh mozzarella on top of a thin layer of homemade freezer tomato sauce from this summer.

Thank you for bearing with me!

Until next time,

-Dretta

 

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