May 26, 2009

homemade pizza, so many possibilities

top 10 reasons to make homemade pizza
1. working with dough is like child's play
2. really warms up the kitchen
3. you make it just the way you like it (in my case, loaded with organic vegetables)
4. playing pizzeria with pizza tools
5. warm, bubbly, coming out of the oven
6. fresh crispy crust is somehow deeply soul-satisfying
7. great leftovers
8. casual and fun  
9. healthful, yet cheesey
10. it's delicious
i could go on and on. i know i say this all the time, about all sorts of recipes, but this recipe is super fast and super easy. no long rise for the dough. cuisinart-like gadget does the kneading for you, unless you prefer to do it yourself. just a 30 minute or so rest for the dough and you are ready to go. i don't always have the time to make this, and it really covers the kitchen with flour due to my personal baking style. it is too fun. here we go.

entirely fast entirely homemade pizza
tools: pizza stone, pizza paddle, food processor
preheat oven with stone, in if you've got it, at 450 degrees for 30 minutes.
to make pizza dough
1 package dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (should be above 100 degrees but not above 120 degrees 105 to 110 is optimal)
1 tablespoon honey
3/4 to 1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 cup oat flour
semolina flour for dusting

proof the yeast in the 1/4 cup warm water for 10 minutes until thick and foamy.  mix together the olive oil, honey, salt and 3/4 cup water in a small bow. reserve. place the flour in Cuisinart-like gadget using plastic dough blade. pour the water/honey/salt/olive oil mixture into your food processor with the blade going. next, pour in the foamy yeast. mix until the dough forms a ball, you may need an extra bit of water here depending on the moisture level of your room and the flour, conversely, if it is quite sticky you may need to add a sprinkling of flour. once ball forms, let it fly around in there, holding it steady on the counter for 3 to 4 minutes. the dough is literally kneaded by the processor. when dough is rather smooth and pretty, turn off the machine. have a medium sized bowl coated with olive oil standing nearby. remove dough, pat into satisfying round shape, place in oiled boil, turn to coat. let rest for 30 minutes or more if you've got it. 45 minutes to an hour work well too. 

next, cut the dough into 4 equal portions. reserve in refrigerator until ready to use. (can wait several hours at this point) but i am usually ready to use it right away.

roll out 1 ball of dough on a lightly floured surface. turn the dough over several times to keep it loose during the rolling out. roll it out to about 10 inches across.

get out your pizza paddle if you have one. add a bit of semolina flour or corn meal to the surface and smooth it around. this allows the pizza to slide off the paddle onto the stone with the greatest of ease. place the rolled dough on the paddle. brush the dough with olive oil and decorate with your favorite toppings. cheese goes on first. toppings after. a sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan and a bit of fresh pepper are the last things to go on before the pizza enters the oven. generally done in about 8 minutes. but in my last house/oven it was more like 11 minutes. all depends, etc.

favorite toppings around here
fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced thin (use a serrated knife to make this easier). roasted zucchini slices, roasted cherry tomatoes, roasted eggplant slices, raw sliced leeks and cooked sliced potato (cooked in 1/4 cup water 1  TBSP olive oil and  1/2 teaspoon salt on stove for 5 minutes in small pan). goat cheese, potato, roasted tomato, leek pizza would also be nice. raw sliced roma tomatoes and sliced leeks are nice too. fresh herbs of course and chopped garlic. mushrooms and spinach leaves make great additions. for the spinach, you can just lay the leaves on top of the cheese. or you can blanch the spinach and make tiny mounds out of the leaves. sautee the mushrooms first maybe. anything goes really. little french olives and sliced roma tomatoes with or without anchovies, don't really even need cheese for that one. nothing like pizza-making to nurture your creativity. for the kids we use a bit of tomato sauce and mozzarella for a pizza margherita, they like it best without the fresh basil. funny how naturally suspicious children can be of unusual toppings.

*note, of course you don't need a food processor, pizza stone or pizza paddle to make pizza. your hands can make the dough. a baking sheet will suffice for the pizza, in which case you skip the paddle altogether. i would still add a bit of semolina to the baking sheet first. and i would probably raise the temperature to 500 degrees fahrenheit if using a baking sheet and adjust slightly. the main benefit of the stone is the crust, only way to get it so perfect in texture. so crisp.
**leftover dough. this is the best part. go ahead and roll out the last dough ball even if you are all too full to eat another bite. cook it for 3 minutes. patting it down every minute or so as it will swell with no toppings. pull it out and allow to cool completely. wrap up for fridge or freezer. waits patiently in the fridge for a day or two, and in the freezer for a few months. great do-ahead trick as well.

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