Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I like pizza...

I like pizza, I like it. I also like to do things for myself, so for the past year or so, I've been making pizza from as basic ingredients as I can get to lately, and thought I'd share just how rewarding and fun it is. It's really not that difficult, and the results are light years beyond a crappy frozen pizza, and twice as good as anything you'd buy!
First, it's done in two stages. Stage one is to make the dough. This only takes ten minutes, but then you'll want to let it rise at least once, which can take a few hours (last night it only took two, but it was 30 degrees inside!) The next stage is just slapping on the toppings and throwing it into the oven, this takes another ten to fifteen minutes. After that, you're golden! So let's get started.

Assemble your (dough) ingredients.
  • 3 1/2 cups of flour (I use all-purpose, but if you're into healthy foods, feel free to substitute whole wheat or whole grain)
  • 1 1/4 cups of warm water
  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons oil (olive for me!)
Add the yeast to the water and stir it up well. Let that percolate for awhile, and mix the remaining ingredients together with a large spoon. After a few minutes of the yeast and water resting together, pour them in with the others, and mix it good. I end up switching from the spoon to my bare hands after a minute or so, as the dough gets sticky and stringy. I scrape off the spoon and the sides of the bowl and keep kneading everything into the dough until it becomes a nice ball.
Then I oil it lightly all over, and place it in a clean,
covered bowl to rise. As you can see, I use a 2 litre measuring cup and saucer for this step. I oil the interior and saucer, and then step back for a few hours. I usually make the dough around lunch, and let it rise during the afternoon.
After a few hours, you'll likely wind up with
something more like this...
Don't worry if it doesn't rise as much, it'll still taste fine. This actually makes enough dough for two, 12" pizzas. Knead this stuff back to the original size, and then oil up your pizza pan. I have been alternating between a real pizza pan, and our cast-iron frying pan.
Both give really great results! Cast iron makes for an amazing deep-dish experience, while the pizza pan gives you a more authentic thin-crust type pizza.
It's also worth mentioning that you can freeze and refrigerate the dough easily. I usually freeze half for the next pizza, unless we're having guests ;).
Today I'll be showing off the pizza pan version. Here's the blank canvas, ready for the artist to pour out their soul.
When I have friends over, I often go pretty traditional, with tomato sauce and pepperoni and mushrooms (and of course, cheese).
But this pizza is for my wife and I, and she allows me to get creative.
That's when I generally go for cream-based sauces and a bit more exotic toppings.
While she isn't vegetarian at all, she doesn't require meat, and I wanted to also dedicate this particular pizza to my friend Jeff in China, so I decided to split the two sides, a mushroom and feta side for her, and a pepperoni and olive side for me. Here is what it looks like before it heads into the oven. I have been popping mine in at 450 degrees for 22 minutes. If your oven can get hotter, by all means, set it as hot as it can get, and bake your pizza for a bit less time. Hot is the key word for making good pizza.
With a bit of luck, and some fancy work with your pizza cutting wheel (or knife, as the case may be), you might be able to cut yours just as I did. It didn't fit on our plates very well at first, but then we started munching on the "tail" as an appetizer, and were soon enough in pizza heaven.
Let me know if you give it a try. Oh yeah, I should give a shout out to my brother Chris' girlfriend Natalie, who originally inspired me to try making these pizzas by sending me an equally awesome recipe for a spinach and feta pizza... Mmmmm, I'll be making that again maybe this coming weekend!



3 comments:

  1. Natlie appreciated the kudos for the pizza. But is this not copyright infringement?

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  2. How can it possibly be copyright infringement? What are you drinking over there?

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  3. This is from the wife... :-)
    First,I'll say that the pizzas are excellent - The only disappointments are when the toppings/sauce leave the centre of the pizza too soft, but this doesn't happen often. Our friend Brad commented that these pizzas are more filling than takeout pizza - probably because the crust is made with relatively unprocessed ingredients.
    Second, Stephen wrote, "she isn't vegetarian at all." This sounds like I'm a full-on meat eater,which I'm not. I have many of the same concerns as vegetarians about meat- At various times I have been vegan, vegetarian, or what I call "part-time vegetarian." Currently, I prefer vegetarian meals and when I do have meat/dairy/eggs/fish I strive to eat from only organic, local and well-treated or wild animals.
    I don't know if anyone will see this comment since it is coming over a week later than the post - As you may surmise, I don't have as much time on the computer (at home) as I did B.K. (That's "Before Kenny")!

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