Sunday, July 8, 2012

Pizza, Pizza, Pizza

Friday is pizza night in our house. I'm kind of picky about my pizza, and haven't been satisfied with the pizza options near our house, PLUS I cannot justify spending the amount of money charged for crappy pizza when I can make DELICIOUS pizza myself.

Since I make our own pizza, we have different toppings all the time, depending on what we feel like. Sometimes we have buffalo chicken (using ranch as the sauce) or regular pepperoni/cheese for the kids. Sometimes we make pesto chicken pizzas. Once I made bulgogi pizza with leftover Korean! The possibilities are seriously endless and I'm not bragging when I say I've never made a bad pizza. Imagination and experimentation are perfect for this family-pleasing meal! I adapted my pizza dough recipe from Annie's Eats, a really great blog.

It's really important when you're making your own pizza that you have a pizza stone, parchment paper, and cornmeal, in my opinion. The parchment paper makes transferring the pizza much easier and helps with clean up. A pizza peel is a good investment as well if you plan on making pizza a lot, like we do! A pizza peel is that wooden paddle-looking tool that helps you get the pizza in and out of the oven.

Lastly, sometimes I add things to my dough like Italian seasoning or garlic powder. It's not necessary and I don't do it all the time, but it tastes good, and makes for really good cheesy breadsticks!

Basic Pizza Dough
Yield: enough dough for 2 medium pizzas or 4 calzones

½ cup warm water
2¼ tsp. instant yeast
4 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting (lately I've switched to whole wheat flour)
1½ tsp. sea salt
1¼ cup water, at room temperature
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup.  Sprinkle the yeast over the top and set aside.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour and salt, mixing briefly to blend.

If the yeast has bloomed in the warm water (the mixture will be cloudy and smell like beer or bread, and not have individual grains of yeast visible anymore) measure the room temperature water into the measuring cup with the yeast-water mixture.  With the mixer on low speed, pour in the yeast-water mixture and the olive oil (I use two hands: olive oil in one, yeast-water in the other).  Mix until a cohesive dough is formed (only about 30 seconds or so).

Switch to the dough hook.  Knead on low speed until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to a large, oiled bowl, turning once to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let rise until doubled in size, 1½-2 hours.

Preheat the oven and pizza stone to 500˚ F for at least 30 minutes!! I start the oven about 10 minutes before I plan on punching down the dough for the next step.

Press down the dough to deflate it.  Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface.  Divide the dough into two equal pieces.  Form each piece of dough into a smooth, round ball. Cover with a damp cloth or damp paper towel.  Let the dough relax for at least 10 minutes but no longer than 30 minutes.

To bake, transfer the dough to your shaping surface (large cutting board or pizza peel) covered in parchment paper and lightly sprinkled with cornmeal.  I shape my dough with lightly oiled hands.

Top as desired.  Bake until the crust is golden brown, and cheese is bubbling, 8-12 minutes.

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