Howdy, folks…. As you may or may not know, I am a sales clerk by day, knitter/blogger by night and a food columnist every other week on Sundays. I usually use blog posts from the week cleaned up for the columns, and I thought I would repost this one on Pizza, since it tidied up rather decent-like 😉 Enjoy!
I don’t think I’ve ever met a pizza I didn’t like, unless you are talking about the pizza-flavored food they served at my old elementary school. I think taking a surprise math test was preferable to Pizza Wednesdays.
Happily, I’ve been done with elementary school for some time now and have more than made up for my negative pizza memories with many happy ones. I’ve had enough good pizza to satisfy any rational person for a lifetime, but I am ever seeking another excellent pizza experience.
My latest pizza revelation came in my own kitchen, when I decided to buck up and make my own. You can insert your own dramatic background music, if you please. I’ve had everyone else’s pizza, but had no idea what my own might taste like, so the other night I got out my big baking sheet and mozzarella cheese and made pizza for the first time.
In a bowl, put 1/4 cup of warm water. Add 2 teaspoons of dry yeast (or two packages, if you are using it pre-measured) and then let it ‘proof’ for five minutes, or until the yeast is bubbling a little bit.
Add 1 1/2 Tablespoons of olive oil and 1/2 cup more warm water. In another larger bowl, mix together 2 1/4 cups of flour with 1 teaspoon of salt. I like using half whole wheat and half all purpose white flour, but feel free to use all white or all wheat or whatever combination suits you.
Mound up the flour in your bowl and make an indentation in the middle, then pour the liquid into the mound. Using your fingers, or a strong spatula, begin to mix the flour into the liquid. It’s going to seem too dry, but mix a while longer then dump it onto a clean work surface and begin to knead. It will soon become a smooth and tidy ball of dough. Keep kneading until the dough is quite elastic – this is the bonus therapeutic aspect to pizza making, and then cover it with a piece of plastic and set it aside for 30 minutes so that it can rest and recuperate.
Take this time to decide what you want on your pizza. Are you are you a plain-Jane, classic, mozzarella and pepperoni type? Are you an eclectic, buffalo chicken with blue cheese sauce type? Or maybe you are a comfortable in-between, tomato slices with bits of bacon and sauteed onions. Whatever you have decided, prep it now while the dough is rising. I made two pizzas, one with three cheeses (parmesan, ricotta and mozzarella) and the other with sausage, onion and mozzarella. Oh my. The possibilities are so numerous, so enticing, I declare you could make pizza every night for a month and not exhaust the options, nor tire of pizza in general.
Now that you have decided how to decorate your pie and 30 minutes have run out, look at your lovely dough, all swollen and ready to be formed. This is the fun part, the part where children and spouses and next door neighbors appear out of thin air to try their hand at pizza tossing. With any luck, you will end up with a flattish piece of dough that looks something like a pizza. Perfect is not the goal – fun is. People who want symmetrical pizzas can get them in the freezer aisle – we are not those people. Freeform pizza *IS* the best pizza.
Preheat your oven to 475 degrees and grease a baking sheet with some olive oil. Place your formed dough on the sheet and then adorn it with deliciousness. Layer it up with sauces, meats, veggies, cheeses, fruit – anything your heart desires. There is no right or wrong way to do this, as a home chef you have the right to freedom in culinary pursuits.
The pizza gets sent to bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling and the crust has browned. Then – it’s time to eat, and I don’t think you’ll be needing me to tell you how to do that! Enjoy!