Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Kristi's Guide to making Pizza (Part Deux)

I got a little behind on my promise of Pizza crust and sauce recipes. Here they are, as promised. My crust looks a lot like Alton Brown's, with some modifications to yeast and rise time so that I don't have to plan a whole day in advance (I never manage to do that).

Pizza Crust
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Kosher Salt*
  • 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus more for the rising bowl
  • 3/4 cup warm water (NOT boiling)
  • 2-3 cups bread flour (you can substitute 1-1.15 cups whole wheat flour here if you like)
  • 1 packet or 1 scant Tbsp (2 1/4 tsp) dry yeast

*If you use regular table salt, go with 1/2 Tbsp.

Add yeast to the warm watter, stirring to combine. Set aside for a few minutes until it starts to look foamy.

In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer (or a regular bowl if you've got strong upper arms), Add 1 cup of the flour, sugar, and salt. Mix by hand to make sure you don't have lumps of sugar or salt. Add the water/yeast mixture and the oil.

Attach bowl to stand mixer and knead with kneading hook (or whatever your mixer uses for bread). Add remaining flour, about 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough forms a ball around the hook. If you're doing this by hand, you want a fairly stiff, not oozy dough. The amount you need seems to depend greatly on the humidity and how loose or tightly packed your flour is when you measure it.

Knead with the mixer (or by hand) for 10-15 minutes. This helps develop the gluten, which will make your pizza dough chewy and firm and able to be stretched into shape.

Lightly oil a bowl with olive oil. Remove dough from mixer, and hand-shape it into a bowl. Place dough in oiled bowl, and flip it over once so that the top surface has some oil on it as well. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and set it to rise in a warm (non-drafty) place (I like inside the oven, but for pizza I use the top of the stove, since you'll be turning the oven on in the next step)

Place your pizza stone (if using) on the very bottom rack in the very lowest position in your oven. Turn your oven on as high as it will go (mine goes to 500 degrees).

No, I haven't forgotten to let the pizza dough rise. But your oven needs to pre-heat for a REALLY long time to make good use of that pizza stone.

Let the dough rise for about an hour, until doubled in size. You should be able to poke it with the tip of your finger, and the dent will not immediately spring back.

Punch the dough down (just like it sounds, and then do 2 or 3 quick kneads to kind of mix in any crusty top on the dough) and let rest for 10 minutes while you make the sauce.

This dough will make 2 smallish crusts or one fairly large one. We usually do 2 to allow for more variety in toppings. So, divide the dough in half, and stretch/roll/pat/pull/smash the dough into a rough circular shape.

Also, if you want to double the recipe, check your stand mixer first. You might want to do it in 2 batches instead of one double batch. I don't want anyone burning out a motor.

Pizza Sauce
  • 1 small can tomato sauce (the short size. You can use a regular 15-oz can if you want, but you'll have leftovers
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Seasonings: salt, pepper, basil, oregano, fennel seeds, crushed red pepper (measure? I never measure....maybe around 1/2 tsp each except for salt, then taste and adjust. Do salt last, because it really depends on your preference and brand of tomato sauce)
  • OR a pre-made pizza seasoning. I like and use Penzey's Pizza Seasoning*, since it has pretty much the same stuff that I normally add.

In a small saucepan or skillet over medium-medium high heat, add the oil until it shimmers.

Add onion and saute until it starts to look clear (sweat the onion). Add the garlic and heat for about a minute. Then dump in the tomato sauce, sugar, and seasonings. Stir and simmer, adjusting seasonings and salt to your taste.

Note that I typically use dried seasoning. Fresh basil and oregano are wonderful--mince them pretty fine and add with the sauce. But you'll probably want some dried orgegano in there too. Dried tastes more pizza-ish than fresh. Don't ask me why.

Final Pizza Prep
Cut a piece of parchment paper into a rough circle the size of your pizza stone. Place one formed crust on top of it, then top with sauce, cheese, and toppings of your choice.

Using a pizza peel (those paddle things that pizzarias have) if you've got one, or a cookie sheet if you don't, slide the pizza, parchment and all, onto the pizza stone.

Bake at 500 for about 10 minutes, give or take. The cheese should be bubbly and just starting to brown. If you stretched your dough super-thin or topped it with 3 layers of topping, or something, adjust your baking time as necessary.

When you remove the pizza from the oven, you can (with oven-mitted hands) tug on the parchment and it will slide right off the stone. Leave the pizza stone in the oven between pizzas (or take it out with the last pie).

*No, I don't get any kind of money from Penzeys. I wish. I mean, I love their store and their catalog, and I would be happy to show photos of my space drawer (AND cabinet) full of Penzey's spices if they'd care to pay me (in cash or merchandise). But no, its just free publicity for them because I'm a satisfied customer.


flatflo said...

Making me hungry here! I could drop a lot of dough (heehee) at Penzey's, easy. I made up some nice stocking stuffers for female family members last year.

I'll have to give this recipe a try. We have a Cuisinart tabletop oven I purchased last year. It has baking stones all over the interior, plus bake, broil, toast and convection settings. Pretty nifty and keeps the house cooler on hot summer days. I keep it on a rolling kitchen rack so it goes to the back deck for usage.

Kristi said...

I do drop a lot of dough every time I go to Penzeys, even if I have a short list. Everything just smells so good...though I buy their bulk bags and I'm pretty sure I pay less per ounce for better stuff than at the grocery store (and don't waste a bunch of little bottles).

Sounds like a nifty oven, Laura. We have a similar kind of oven, but minus the stones and the toast function (you can sort of toast on "broil", but a popup toaster is much faster). And I don't think it's Cuisinart, but I could actually be wrong about that. It serves as our second oven, holds a full-sized pizza (2 actually), square baking pan, or a pie or round cake pan. Its definitely cooler than using the big oven, but it could use some better insulation (especially on the top...we learned not to set plastic utensils up there when its on...).

Good idea to use it on the deck to do a better job of keeping the heat out of the kitchen...we don't have a rolling cart, but it could be picked up and set on the (metal) patio table...

Someday, I want 2 full-sized convection ovens.

Bethany said...

You inspired me, although I bought pre-made crust. It came out great though and I plan to make another pizza soon. I'll try your crust recipe then (will it work in a bread machine do you think?)

Kristi said...

I think the recipe would work great in a bread machine. I think I've done it that way, too, quite a long time ago.

I don't actually own one of those at the moment. I used to, but gave it to one of my sisters. It was great *except* I couldn't use the dough cycle with the timer at the same time. So, no dumping ingredients in the morning, and coming home to risen pizza crust (or waking up to cinnamon roll dough ready to shape and eat). That annoyed the crap out of me, and once I got a stand mixer, I realized that I wasn't using the bread machine enough to justify its space in my cabinets.

As an fyi, fte pizza crust will rise in the fridge, too, btw--but it takes a good 24 hours. And then you need to set it out on the counter for 30-40 minutes to come up to room temperature before shaping. Since it only takes an hour or two with the warm rise, I rarely do it ahead of time.