Friday, November 26, 2010

Pizza Dough

I have a very long tradition of buying my pizza dough from whole foods and while I love the fact that it only has about 5 ingredients (and they are all ingredients I recognize!) it makes me realize that I should be making my own. I also  have quite the tradition of avoiding yeast but I finally just bought myself a jar as a way of enticing myself to use it up. As it turns out, baking with yeast is one of the most satisfying experiences out there. You get the satisfaction of turning a tiny ball of unappealing dough into a giant inflated ball of awesome. And did I mention the punching? That was the most exciting part for me when I get to beat the dough back down.

I see recipes calling for frozen pizza dough all of the time for items that aren't pizza like pretzels of strombolis so I think that this really basic recipe can turn out to be very versatile. And this dough is very basic, for the adventurers out there, adding some herbs could be fun or maybe adding cheese or garlic flavored oil. Either way, I think it's a good thing to have in your repertoire, even if it just means one less trip to whole foods.

As I said, the dough starts out a bit meager but never fear, it gets much larger. Not that much larger I suppose, but it doubles in size over the course of an hour which I find impressive. What else do you know that can double in size in an hour besides bread? It was Thanksgiving yesterday though... I feel like I may have doubled in size.
No pizza is complete without tomato slices on top.
Or without a hell of a lot of mushrooms.
And here is the final product. It may already be obvious that I am no good at tossing pizza dough around but I made two pizzas and I'm calling them "artisan pizzas" because they look so bad but that sounds so good. My toppings were some pesto for the sauce, spinach leaves, mushrooms, and tomatoes. O! and cheese of course!

I found the recipe for the dough here at Epicurious.

3/4 cup warm water
1 envelope active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
2 cups or more flour
1 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp olive oil

1. Pour 3/4 cup water into a small bowl then add yeast. All the mixture to sit for about 5 minutes or until the yeast dissolves.

2. Brush a larger bowl lightly with olive oil. Mix together flour, sugar, salt in the bowl of a food processor (I did mine by hand though, it wasn't too bad). Add the oil and the yeast mixture and stir or process until the dough forms a very sticky ball. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead the dough until smooth, adding additional tablespoons of flour if necessary. Place the dough in the oiled bowl, roll it around in the oil, then allow to rise for an hour or until it doubles in size.

3. Punch down the dough when it is ready then cook according to any pizza recipe. When I'm on the fly for a pizza, I like to preheat my oven to about 500 degrees, prebake the crust for 5-7 minutes or so, add toppings and then bake again for another 7-10 minutes. Voila!

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