Monday, January 11, 2010

NYE Pizza

My veggie masterpiece
What better way to ring in the new year than with a "make-your-own" pizza party. It's especially nice to have homemade pizza when you have a professional living with you. My husband worked at a couple different pizza joints for a total of nine years! So I, of course, leave the dough making to him. He found a new recipe and it worked well with both bread flour and whole wheat flour. It was both delicious and easy to make-as far as I can tell. We had a plethora of toppings including: sausage, pepperoni, peppers, garlic, spinach, basil, tomato, onion, jalapeno, and some mushrooms that I sauteed ahead of time in a bit of olive oil, garlic, and white wine...delicious.

Dan's pizza during construction
and now, here's Dan with the recipe...

Pizza Dough
adapted from Tyler Florence

1 packet yeast (quick rise or dry active, your choice determines how long the water needs to activate)
1 tsp. sugar
1 c. warm water
1 Tbsp. salt
3 c. bread or whole wheat flour
olive oil

1. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the yeast, sugar, and warm water; stir gently to dissolve. Let the mixture stand until the yeast comes alive and starts to foam, about 5 to 10 minutes.  (I had 3 packs of quick rise and one of dry active yeast.  I didn't give the batch with the dry active enough time to fully activate which resulted in less rise.  Make sure you give it enough time!)
2. Turn the mixer on low and add the salt and 2 tablespoons (a little more never hurt) of olive oil. Add the flour, a little at a time, mixing at the lowest speed until all the flour has been incorporated. When the dough starts to come together, increase the speed to medium; stop the machine periodically to scrape the dough off the hook. Get a feel for the dough by squeezing a small amount together: if it's crumbly, add more water; if it's sticky, add more flour - 1 tablespoon at a time. Mix until the dough gathers into a ball, this should take about 5 minutes.
3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and fold it over itself a few times; kneading until it's smooth and elastic. Form the dough into a round and place in a lightly oiled bowl, turn it over to coat. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let it rise in a warm spot, i.e. over a gas pilot light, until doubled in size, about 1 hour.  (Seeing that our oven/stove is electric we have to use the oven to create a warm environment.  I like to heat the oven to its lowest setting and then turn it off when I put the dough in there. This is kind of a bummer because we weren't able to preheat the pizza stone until all of the dough was done proofing.)
4. Once the dough is domed and spongy, turn it out onto a lightly floured counter. Roll and stretch the dough into a cylinder and divide into 3 equal pieces. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes so it will be easier to roll out.  (On this particular occasion I spread some olive oil on a cookie sheet, put all of the dough balls on there and then placed it in the fridge until we were ready to start.)
5. Preheat oven to 500 °F if using a pizza stone, or 425 °F for a cookie sheet, but unlike the stone, do not put the cookie sheet in the oven while preheating. Roll or pat out a piece of dough into a 12 inch circle, about 1/8-inch thick. Dust a pizza paddle or cutting board with cornmeal and slide it under the pizza dough. Add your favorite toppings. Slide the pizza onto the hot stone (or place pizza on a cookie sheet) in the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the crust is golden and crisp. Repeat with the remaining dough.

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