Now I’m not saying it’s perfect, but last night’s pizza was definitely the best I’d made thus far. I’ll just have to update you with improvements as I make them.
The Crust (Made in bread machine, but can be adapted for those without):
The recipe I found did not, by any means, include enough flour. So I would assume I used 4 cups, but you be the judge. Just add until the dough is smooth and elastic. If you’re using a bread machine, add until the dough doesn’t stick to the sides. If it starts falling apart, you’ve added too much. Add water 1tbs at a time utnil it’s the right consistency again.
Okay, on with the ingredients:
1 1/3 c water (Warm, not hot. Close to room temperature.)
2 tsp sugar
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 tbs olive oil
4 c bread flour (You can use all-purpose, but you’ll get the best rise out of bread flour)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1 1/2 tsp yeast (bread machine, not rapid rise)
For the bread machine users, add all ingredients in that order to machine, and put on dough cycle. Press start. Gotta love technology.
For the unlucky, add yeast to water, whisk together. Add sugar and oil, whisk. Combine the rest of the dry ingredients in separate bowl. Add that mixture to the yeast mixture until too thick for whisk, then move to wooden spoon, then move to hand.
Knead until smooth and elastic. No clue how long that is. I don’t do this. I make technology do it for me.
Place in lightly oiled bowl, roll around til covered in oil. Cover with towel, place in warm place, and let rise til double in size. (When you can press your finger in it make an indentation that stays, then it’s double in size. I think this takes half an hour. My entire dough cycle on the bread machine is 1 hour 30 minutes, if that helps.
Either after the bread machine beeps, or the dough is doubled, dump dough on lightly floured surface. For the bread machine users among us, the dough will be sticky, so you’ll have to add flour until it’s manageable. For the unfortunate, simply punch the dough down.
Now you want to make it crust-like. There are lot of methods to employ to make your ball of dough into the desired flat disc. You can try flinging it in the air, working it apart with your fists (make sure your engagement ring is turned in!) You can use a rolling pin to flatten it out, pie crust-style. My most dependable method is to work it into a circle as best I can using either of the two aforementioned methods, plop it on the pizza stone (which has been liberally sprinkled with cornmeal), pour oil on my hands, and then work the dough to the edges of the stone. Lots of oil is required for this. Flour-y dough is too elastic for my patience. Oily dough is very compliant.
Now cover your pizza dough with a towel and let rise in a warm place for half an hour (just enough to make the sauce!)
This is also a work in progress. I like the flavor, but am still working on the consistency.
1 can tomato paste (I wish I knew the ounces for ya – I get mine at Aldi and there’s only one tiny little can option. I’m thinking 4 or 5 ounces?)
1 1/2 c water (again, working on this. May be too runny. Or maybe I just had too much produce for toppings last time!)
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp basil
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil on high heat, reduce to low to simmer for 20 minutes (or longer if you want a thicker sauce.)
Make sure to stir often.
Now, for my secret.
When the pizza is done rising, remove the towels (duh), and get out your olive oil, oregano, and basil. (My mouth is watering just thinking about this.)
Pour some olive oil (a Tbs? two?) into a small bowl. Shake in some oregano and basil (oh, just until it looks right! Um, 1/4 tsp each? 1/2 tsp each?) With a pastry brush, mix up the oil mixture, and brush around the outer inch of the crust.
Now pour desired amount of sauce onto dough. Don’t worry about using it all up. Just freeze what you don’t use, adding to it each time you make pizza until one lucky day when you’ll have enough that you won’t have to make any! Use the back of a spoon to spread it around. Do you like saucy pizza? Make sure you can’t see any dough underneath. Like the sauce to be a more muted aspect? Make a pale red covering over the dough.
Shred 8 ounces of mozzarella cheese (you can use pre-shredded if you want. I just like mine as natural as possible, so I prefer to shred it myself to avoid the cellulose. Because cellulose makes me think of cellulite. Even though I’m not sure that’s a rational connection.)
Choose your toppings. Pepperoni is good by itself. Sausage goes good with chopped red and yellow peppers, along with thin rings of onion. If you want to skip the pizza sauce, use barbecue and top with mozzarella and cooked chicken. Of course, then you’ll want to make a half-whole wheat crust (no garlic or onion powder, up the yeast to 2 tsp, and omit baking powder), and use an olive oil/honey mixture to spread on the crust. Trust me. Yum.
Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. No preheating required!
Cut a slice. Enjoy.
Why I like this pizza so much:
The sauce is the right sweetness. I made a lot of failed sauces before this one that were entirely too acidic. This sauce resembles Papa John’s sauce; they’re both just sweet enough!
And, my biggest accomplishment with this particular recipe, the outside crust is as delicious as the rest of the pizza! I hate to see the crust discarded as bland, tasteless bread that no one wants to finish. I want it to be a treat, a bread stick baked on for your convenience! I want it to be light, fluffy, chewy, yet with a crisp, flaky outer layer. Olive oil was just the ticket to achieve this. And the seasonings of basil and oregano added the necessary flavor (along with the seasonings in the crust itself) to make this crust a real treat!
Filed under: The Cooking on September 20th, 2008