back to basics: pizza!

pizza

We grew up eating home made pizza.  My mom made it so often (usually on sundays, especially for football games), that eating pizza out was definitely rare.  The stance at my house is why pay more when its cheaper, tastier, and if planned ahead, not time consuming. So, this was one of the recipes that my mom wrote up for me when I left the house and it has become almost a weekly menu item at our house.  While I love thinking through creative (and convinient) sauces and toppings, that’s the easy part – this post is all about the basics of making and baking the dough.

There are a few other important tools and ingredients to make the pizza making process easy.  First, get yourself a high quality pizza stone.  It will probably cost about $50 but its definitely a worthwhile investment. The stone is made out of ceramic which is a good conductor of heat, so it gets, and stays, very hot.  That is exactly what we want with pizza because it bakes the crust from underneath and leaves you with a cooked/crispy bottom pizza.

The most important thing about making pizza is that the stone is super hot when the pizza dough is placed on it.  Honestly, the easiest thing is just to leave it in the oven.  I think aside from wiping mine down if something dripped on it, it has lived in the oven since I got it.

The next half of the pizza making process is how to get the dough onto the stone.  For that, they have pizza paddles (or spatulas).  The most helpful thing I’ve found with these is to coat them with some semolina flour prior to placing the dough on them.  The grains of the semolina aren’t as fine as flour, so it creates traction and the dough rolls right off the paddle onto the pizza stone.

First, the basic pizza dough recipe
(makes 1 large pizza)

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tbs olive oil
1 cup warm water
1 packet yeast

Set oven to 375 degrees F.  Mix the yeast into the water, allow to sit for a few minutes.  Mix together the flours, sugar and salt.  Add the olive oil and yeast mixture to the flours and mix with your hands until a dough forms.  If needed, add more flour so that the dough isn’t too sticky and can be formed into a ball.  Cover the bowl containing the dough with a towel and allow dough to rise for about 1 hour.

Once the dough is beautifully risen, spread some flour on a clean counter, and roll the dough out with a rolling pin.  Roll it to the desired size (keep in mind the size of your spatula and stone).  Ensure your spatula is covered with 1/4 cup of semolina flour, fold the dough into quarters, place onto spatula and unfold the dough so that it covers the entire spatula.  If I have time, I let the pizza dough sit for about 15-30 minutes like this, since it will rise a little more.

4-square

Add sauce onto the dough and put into the oven.  You want to have a thin layer, but ensure that the entire area (leave about 1 inch wide edge) is covered.  The pizza will need to bake for approximately 12-14 minutes.  The dough and sauce should bake the entire time (duh!), but toppings can cook for less, maybe 6 minutes, and the cheese even less than that, 3 minutes max.  So I put the pizza in the oven, add toppings about 6 minutes later and a few minutes later add the cheese.  Keep in mind that the oven is HOT!

oven pizza

Like I said before, the possibilities are endless!  I love making pizza with just what I have on hand – sauce, toppings, cheese, and all.  Be on the lookout in the next few weeks for lots of fun pizza recipes!

bake on,
– Shirley

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