Thursday, August 8, 2013

Homemade Pizza

DISCLAIMER: You do NOT need a Kitchen Aid stand mixer to make this dough so keep reading!  I have made this dough with just a sturdy spatula, a pyrex and my hands and really couldn't tell any difference!

Don't run out and spend $200 on a kitchen aid just to make pizza, but DO spend $10 on a kitchen scale! 

Pizza is by far my favorite food and has been since I can remember.  I'm totally like my Dad.  Call it nature or nurture, I remember his love for pizza, ice cream and popcorn, and I have loved them unwaveringly since childhood as well.

The main difference between me and my Dad is that I have become more of a connoisseur of pizza (read: judgmental) and the perfect crust is always the baseline for a pizza to receive a decent rating from me.

A few years ago, my husband was stationed in rural Texas, and when the kids and I got there we immediately, to no avail, sought a good local pizza place.  Sorry folks, Pizza Hut doesn't cut it for me.

This adventure in the badlands inspired me to learn how to make my own from scratch.  I was very intimidated since I had never worked with yeast before.  However, over the past 4 years I have realized that bread making isn't difficult. It just takes practice.

There is an inexplicable value that comes with just working with dough that I can't fully explain here--it's a kinetic experience.  You have to become accustomed to the feel, texture and smell.  Don't be intimidated.

 The best way to approach baking is to follow the directions the first several times with a perfectionist's attention to details---get that kitchen scale (if you haven't already) and weigh your flour.  As time goes on you will learn, almost absorb without trying, what to do and how your crust will come out just from the feel of the dough.


33.5 ounces of regular, white flour (approx. 7.5 cups)
1 TBL Instant yeast
1/2 TSP sugar
2 2/3 cups water, divided into 1 cup and 1 2/3 cups
2 TBL Olive Oil
1 TBL Salt


First proof the yeast.  This involves dissolving the yeast and sugar into water.  Heat 1 cup of water to about 110 degrees (get an instant-read candy thermometer for accuracy, better to err a little hotter than colder in this step).  Stir until well combined and let sit for about 8 minutes.

Add the rest of the water (1 2/3 cup) also heated to 110 degrees and 9.5 ounces of the flour (approximately 2 1/14 cup).  Beat vigorously with a whisk, scrapping the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure all is dissolved and combined.  Let sit for 15 minutes.

Add the salt and olive oil and about a 1/3 of the remaining flour, and either turn on the mixer with a dough hook attachment or mix to combine with a sturdy spatula.

Continue to add flour, a cup at a time, until the dough takes form.  The biggest mistake you can make with bread is to add too much flour.  Your dough should be sticky but have form and not be soupy.

Whether you are using a mixer or a spatula, mix and combine the dough for about 8 minutes, then scrape out onto a floured surface and let it rest for a few minutes.  Lightly oil the bowl that it will rise in.

Rub your hands in olive oil then hand knead the dough for another 5-8 minutes, folding and pushing the dough into itself.  It will be sticky!  It will stick to you hands! Add only small palm full amount of flour to help reduce this, but if you flour it until it is firm then you have added too much.  The dough should remain on the sticky side and very soft, like an earlobe.

When you are done, roll it around the oiled bowl to lightly coat it, then cover it with a wet dishtowel and allow to rise for about 45 minutes.  Preheat oven to 450.

This batch will make three medium pizzas.  Divide the dough and lay out on your pan.  Brush with butter or olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder, salt, pepper, oregano, etc.

Bake the crust for 8 minutes.  Top with sauce, cheese, any desired toppings and return to oven for another 8 minutes (you may need to broil it a minute or two to get it golden looking but it will be fully cooked).


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