Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The straw that broke the pizza stone

We actually made this on Sunday, I'm a little behind on blogging.

Usually we order pizza as a treat or because we've lost all motivation to cook for ourselves.  But pizza is a typically a huge splurge when you're trying to watch what you eat, so we don't do that very often anymore (I'm better than I used to be though, I used to pig out and eat about four slices, with pepperoni the primary topping).  Now if we pick it up from Papa Murphy's, our usual place, we often order the Delite pizza with just cheese and pineapple, and add our own turkey pepperoni at home before we bake it.  We also have a salad with it.)

However, we have since learned that it can be incredibly satisfying to make our own pizza from scratch, and a whole lot healthier too because we have complete control over all the toppings!  I think everyone should try it at least once.  Also...get a pizza stone!  It makes all the difference.  It creates a cooking atmosphere that is more like a stone oven.  The pizza stone helps to keep the oven very hot, and keeps the temperature from fluctuating, which results in a crisp crust.

Upon removing our delicious pizza from the oven, we realized that our pizza stone of about 3 years finally kicked the bucket.  It had cracked completely in half.  Actually, we will probably keep using it until we get around to buying a new one, it just stores more compactly now than it used to. :-)      

This time we chose a thin crust pizza recipe out of the America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book.  It's actually used for making "Pizza Margherita", but we wanted to just make the dough and top with other things, so we just ignored the other steps.  We already had some whole wheat flour and whole wheat pastry flour that we had ground ourselves at the Co-op so we used those instead of the flours they called for.  I'm no expert on whether these were equivalent substitutions or not, but we were happy with our crust so I would say they worked fine.  

For the pizza sauce, we used the "Quick Pizza Sauce" recipe from the same book. It was basically can of crushed tomatoes that you dressed up with garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper.

We topped the pizza with Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, kalamata olives and roasted red peppers.  After it baked, we sprinkled it with thinly sliced basil and sorrel (a new item in the CSA that I'd never heard of before, it's a leafy green but usually considered more of an herb, so I'm guessing that means you should use it sparingly).  You add the herbs after the pizza has baked to preserve their flavor.  I'm trying to add fewer toppings to pizza than I used to, because I read that if you add too many ingredients, the flavors will blur each other out.  You'll get a more flavorful pizza if you stick to just a couple of ingredients.  

This recipe makes two 12-inch pizzas, so we were all set for lunches for the next couple of days!   

To make the dough:

In your food processor (fitted with a dough blade if possible), pulse together 1 3/4 cups of all purpose flour (or whole wheat flour), 1 cup cake flour (or pastry flour), 2 teaspoons sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt, and 1 1/4 teaspoons rapid rise yeast.  Keep the processor running, and slowly pour 1 cup warm water (110 F) through the feed tube until a rough ball forms, which should take about 30-40 seconds.

Let the dough rest for about 2 minutes, the process for 30 more seconds.  If at this time the dough is still sticky and clinging to the side of the bowl, add up to 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, as needed, pulsing to combine.  Joe says he didn't need to add any more flour (I should probably add that I was actually at the store while he was making this dough).

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter top and form it into a smooth, tight ball.  Lightly oil a large bowl and place the dough inside.  Cover with plastic wrap and put the bowl in a warm place.  Take a good look at it now because you are going to let it rise until it doubled in size, so try to get an idea of what that will look like.  It will take 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  Go relax, play a board game, or get some chores done in the meantime.  

When the dough looks about the right size, make sure your oven rack is in the lower-middle position and place the pizza stone on the rack.  Preheat the oven to 500 F.  Let the stone heat in the oven for 30 minutes (up to an hour at most).  If you don't own a pizza stone yet, you can substitute a rimless baking sheet, or a regular baking sheet flipped upside down.  Preheat in the same manner as the pizza stone.

To make the sauce:

Saute two minced garlic cloves in two tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  When the garlic is sizzling and smells awesome (about 1 1/2 minutes), stir in one 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes and simmer until the sauce has thickened, about 15 minutes.  Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.  

By the way, I think it's funny that this recipe makes enough sauce for three large pizzas, but the dough recipe only makes two pizzas.  So, after making your two pizzas tonight, you could either keep this cycle going and make more dough, and then make more sauce, OR you could just use the leftovers as a dipping sauce for soft garlic bread sticks on another night.  The sauce keeps for up to four days refrigerated.

To assemble the pizza:  

Line a rimless (or inverted) baking sheet with parchment paper.  This is what you will prepare pizza on, and the parchment will help you transfer it into the oven.  If you have a pizza paddle, you should use that instead of the baking sheet.  We have one that came with our pizza stone.

In the bowl, divide the dough into two equal pieces.  Leave one half in the bowl, covered with plastic wrap, and turn the other piece out onto a lightly floured counter top.  Press and roll the dough into a 12-inch round (it doesn't have to be perfectly round).  Carefully transfer the dough onto the piece of parchment paper you laid out earlier.  Reshape as needed.  

Lightly brush the outer 1/2 inch edge of the dough with oil.  Spread about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of the tomato sauce over the pizza, leaving a 1/2 inch border around the edge.  Top with whatever cheese and other toppings you want.  Slide the parchment and pizza onto the hot pizza stone.  Bake for 7-8 minutes, or until the cheese is melted/golden, and the crust edges have browned a bit (while the first pizza is baking, prepare the other one).  

To remove the pizza from the oven, slide the parchment and pizza back onto the baking sheet or pizza paddle.  Transfer the pizza to a cutting board, discarding the parchment.  Sprinkle with herbs, if using.  Let the stone reheat for about 5 minutes before starting the second pizza.  Slice and serve hot.  

Fun Memory: when my sister and I were kids, my dad would sometimes cut the pizza into weird, unconventional shapes for us, rather than the usual pie slices.  We got the biggest kick out of that, I think because kids love seeing adults "break the rules" and be goofy.      

1 comment:

  1. we use this recipe too! from the books you gave us for your wedding. we LOVE doing pizza's this way because i can have a "vodka" sause and jason can have as much tomato sauce as he wants! very yummy indeed!!!


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