Tuesday, May 13, 2014

hold the phone friend--you can make that pizza!

hold the phone friend—you can make that pizza!

Out of all the take away items that we consume weekly, pizza ranks right up there as the biggest.  A few scant facts about this truth when I was getting set to write this post are:

  •  $38 billion annual sales in pizza in the U.S.
  •  350 slices are sold every second!
  • 46 slices are what the “average American” eats yearly.

You get the picture—that’s a lot of pie.  If the local pizza place is on your speed dial at home, chances are you spend about $15-20 on pizza every couple of weeks for a large pie with toppings, delivery and tip.  Some families eat it weekly.  We do.  But we haven’t bought a pizza in nearly four years.  Why?  Simple—I started making it, from scratch, dough included and it’s literally pennies a slice.  You don’t need a bread machine.

You do need to invest in a couple of key items, but once you do, you’ll be able to have pizza any time you like, and it’ll be better for you and your family.  And for those of you with littles--measuring, counting--baking and recipe making is great for their math skills.  So dust off that pizza stone you registered for when you got hitched.  Find your food processor in the back cupboard.  Get a big old bowl.  We’re going to make some pizza. 


Here’s what you’ll need:

3. Food processor (optional—you can stir these ingredients by hand too with a wooden spoon.)
4. Olive oil.
5. Bread flour or regular unbleached all-purpose. 
(Alternatively, gluten free friends, consider using cup 4 cup pizza flour, it's amazing!) 
6. Salt
7. 1 packet of quick rise yeast (I like red star—silver packet, comes in a set of three, you only need 1 for this recipe)
8. Hot water.
9. Italian herbs (optional)
10. Freshly grated Parmesan (optional)
11. Parchment paper
12. Large glass bowl.

 *I know this can be expensive, but after this initial outlay you don't have to purchase them again.  The stone and peel are great for bread making too, and if you have a double oven, you can just leave the stone in one of them. 

First things first.  Get out your food processor and make sure the bowl and plastic dough blade are clean.  (You CANNOT use the regular metal blade for this.) 
basic ingredients
dough blade

Dough Prep

Place 4 cups of flour, 1 packet of quick yeast           
and ¼ tsp salt in the bowl
already fitted with the hook.

Blend for about 5 seconds.

(You shouldn't see anything but blended mixture of flour, salt and yeast.)

Then add 2 TB of dry Italian herbs to the mixture. Pulse to blend.  (optional)

Add about ¼ cup grated Parmesan to the mixture.  Pulse to blend. (optional)

 Then, with the processor running, open the top and turn on your tap water to the hottest setting and let it run.  Through the opening add 2 TB of olive oil to the mixture.  Let it run for about 30 seconds.

Add 1 1/2 cups HOT water to the dough (this is to activate the yeast).  I use a funnel for ease—and bought these from Ikea.

Let the dough combine until it resembles a rough ball.  Stop the processor.
rough ball of dough.  chief pulser at controls.

Let rest for 2 minutes.

Then run for 30 seconds more.

Take the big ball of dough out on a clean surface sprinkled with flour.  If the dough is very sticky, add up to a ¼ cup of flour to it until you can knead and smooth it into a ball.

rough ball of dough
kneading.  get aggression out here.

Bowl Prep

While the dough is mixing around, or even before you begin, take a large glass bowl.  (Mine is duralex, the largest size (6 qt).  You can find it at Sur la Table or a nested collection of sizes from Willams Sonoma.)

Pour a TB of olive oil into the bowl.  And wipe it around the bowl with a paper towel.  Do not discard that towel though, you’re going to need it later.

Dough Rises!

Now take your dough ball and place it in your lightly oiled bowl.  Give it a pat. 

Take a piece of plastic wrap and wipe your olive oil drenched paper towel on one side of the wrap.  Then place this oiled wrap on top of your dough ball. 

Then cover your bowl tightly with plastic wrap and place it in a warm or sunny spot to rise.

A few hours later, it’ll look like this. 

Place your pizza stone in your oven.




You have enough dough here for 2 large pizzas. 

I usually halve it and seal half with my food saver and leave it in the freezer for another day when I want pizza.  (It thaws beautifully in the fridge in a few hours.  Just take it out in the morning and leave it in there.  Let it come to room temperature for 30 minutes or so before you use it.)  At this point, you can use this as a base for any pizza you want.  The fancy kind with prosciutto and topped with arugula, or a white pie.  You've got a blank canvas--go for it!  For the sake of this post, we'll stick with traditional: pepperoni and extra cheese.

Making a Pie

Take half the dough onto a lightly floured surface and begin to roll it out. 

Now take your pizza peel and lightly sprinkle flour on it.  Place a piece of parchment paper on top and sprinkle more flour on that. 


Transfer the rolled out dough to your parchment paper. 

Then taking a pastry brush, brush olive oil over the entire surface, especially the edges. 

Sprinkle grated Parmesan on top of it.  (optional—we are cheese friendly in this house.)

Then add your favorite pizza sauce.  (Note: I used to make my own, from tomato sauce I canned or even reduced
After many varieties, this is the favorite!
tomatoes, and I have to tell you, it’s not worth it.  

It takes awhile and you cannot taste the difference.  Save great tomatoes for a pasta that makes it shine.)

Then add your toppings.  We do a layer of one cheese. 

Then add pepperoni.

Then add another type of cheese.  (Told you we were cheese friendly people.)

Shimmy the parchment laden pizza to your very hot stone.

Let it cook for 5 minutes.

Then at 5 minutes, carefully using the peel, gently edge away and remove the parchment paper so the crust can cook directly on the stone.

Let it cook another 5 minutes. 

Check it.  And turn off the oven. 

Remove the pizza using the peel and some tongs if you are having trouble.

Allow to cool on a cutting board or heat proof surface.

Slice it.  Eat.  Enjoy.  You did it.  Prego!  (And save that pizza money for something else!)

*This post is dedicated to my buddy Amanda.  Buon Appetito mio amico! 

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