Monday, November 8, 2010

Home Made Pizza

Home Made Pizza

All purpose flour (I prefer unbleached)
Olive oil
It is much easier than most people think to make your own dough. Take a large coffee mug and empty the contents of one package dry yeast. Add a little sugar so the yeast foams. That's how you know the yeast is working and viable. Add warm, not hot, water to the mix and stir. Don't fill the mug; maybe 3/4 full. The mixture needs to be in a warm place. I usually warm the oven slightly as I start this process and then turn it off. If you heat the yeast too hot they will die! This is a living organism. You don't want to kill them until the pizza is in the oven. It is ready when it foams over the edges of the mug.
I start with 2 cups of flour in the mixing bowl and keep another cup nearby. In with the flour mix about a teaspoon or so of salt. I don't measure (this is ART!) Just before adding the yeast mixture pour in about 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
Dump in the foaming yeast mixture and mix the ingredients with fork and some elbow grease.

When the mixture starts to become a mass, turn it out on to a floured surface. Rub your dry hands with flour and begin to knead the dough. You will come to love this part. Add flour from the cup as needed. (pun) It may take awhile to get a feel for the consistancy but just keep pushing the dough into itself. If it is too wet and sticky add flour. Don't add so much that it becomes heavy and stiff.

The dough itself will then need to rise in a warm place. I put it in a clean and floured bowl and put it in the slightly warm oven. (oven is OFF) Give the dough at least 30-40 minutes to rise. You will see it about double in size.

The Stone is lightly dusted with flour and for that authentic pizzeria taste, add some corn meal to help the pizza slide off the stone when done.

The use of a pizza stone is essential to a good crust. Once you use one, you will never go back to a pan.

Spread the warm rising dough out on the floured stone and shape it. Try not to hang over the edges too much as the dough will rise more when it first goes into the oven. (450)

I usually put the dough in the oven for about 7 min. to pre-cook the dough. The idea is to get the dough cooking before piling on the cold ingredients so that the dough will cook through. This will take some experimentation before you get the timeing right. Too long and the dough will be brittle on the edges, and not long enough will leave it doughey.

Take the stone back out of the oven and pile on the prepared ingredients. In this case, I didn't have much on hand, but there is chicken in the sauce and I had shaker cheese, shredded mozzarella, olives, and italian seasonings.

Bake the pizza for about 20 - 25 minutes. You will smell it when it is about ready! When the mozzarella starts to bubble and brown it is done. It may take a few tries to get this down to perfection, but even the experiments taste good. Try it! You'll be glad you did.

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