Food Hero

Pizza Night! by Rachelle
August 15, 2008, 6:00 am
Filed under: Italian, Main Dish, Medium Fix, Rachelle Mee-Chapman, Tips | Tags: , ,

Posted by: Rachelle

When we moved from Seattle to Copenhagen in grey, dark February, the kids needed a little something that tasted like home. That’s when we instituted Friday as pizza night. Making yeast dough initially intimidated me. But I found it was a lot easier than I thought, and I’ve included all my tips and tricks below. Start the dough about 1 1/2 hours before you want to eat (1 hr to rise, 1/2 hour to top and cook) and you’ll be golden.

With food prices rising back in the good old US of A, maybe it’s time to change your take-out habits? Two gourmet pizzas in Seattle would set up back at least $45…now we make it at home for about $20.  have Yum!

Shopping List
4 c flour
1 1/2 t salt
1/3 c olive oil
1 1/2 c warm tap water
2t sugar
2 pkgs fast-acting yeast (in the baking aisle)
jarred organic pizza sauce
various toppings (See suggestions from our readers below)

In a small bowl mix sugar, yeast and warm tap water with a fork. to activate the yeast your water should be wrist-warm but not scalding. The sugar ‘feeds’ the yeast and gets it rising faster and with more success. Set the mixture aside for 5-10 minutes. If the yeast is alive and kickin’ you’ll see a foam building on the surface. If not, try again.

In a large bowl mix flour and salt. Make a divet in the the flour and pour in the olive oil. Add the yeast mixture and stir with a wooden spoon. The dough starts to form a smooth-ish elastic ball. (Add flour a tablespoon or so at a time if it’s too sticky. It’s better to err on the slightly sticky side than on the dry side.) Turn out onto a floured surface and with floured hands knead for about 3-5 minutes.  (How to knead pizza dough here.)

Swipe the bowl you mixed in with a bit of olive oil on a paper towel. Plop the dough ball in there, then turn it over so both sides are lightly kissed with olive oil. Soak a thin dishtowel in warm water and wring it out. Cover the bowl with the dough and put it in a warm, draft-free location for about one hour. (In our old flat we proofed dough on the radiator, but here I put on a step stool in the bathroom with the dryer running! Any warmish spot should do.)

If you are using baking stones now is the time to put them in the oven at 425.

While you are waiting for the dough to rise, slice and dice all your ingredients. If you are using fresh mozzarella, put it in a sieve or colander over a bowl (to catch the water) and sprinkle lightly with salt. This keeps fresh mozzarella from ‘sweating’ on the pizza and making the dough salty. Here are some yummy combos to try from our Food Hero readers:

Three Peper, Three Cheese by Paula Clare: red, yellow, green bell peppers w/mitizhra, mozzerella, and parmesean
Tuscan Goodnes by Elaine Eppler: artichokes hearts, pine nuts, zucchini, black olives, sundried tomatoes, feta cheese, fresh basil

In 45min-1 hr your dough should be about twice it’s original size. Flour your hands and ‘punch’ it down to release the air. Turn it out on to the floured surface again and give it a little knead. Split it into three balls, set them on wax paper to keep them from sticking. Add a smallish hand full of cornmeal to the counter. put the ball of dough on the cornmeal/flour counter. Pat it down into a circle. Dust it with a little more flour. Using a rolling pen — or in a pinch, a clean empty glass jar – roll it out to about 1/4 inch thick, a little thicker on the edges if you like chewy crust. (For more how-to’s see the video link above)

If you’re not using baking stones, transfer your dough to a baking sheet. If you are using baking stones, get ’em out of the oven and put them on a trivet. Quickly slide the dough from the counter to the hot stone. This starts baking the pizza even before it’s in the oven and gives it that crisp-but-chewy texture. Add your toppings. Pop it in the oven and bake it for 20-25 minutes, keeping an eye on it and maybe moving it up if the top isn’t melting, or down if the bottom of the pizza isn’t browning. Let it set for a few minutes before slicing and your cheese won’t sliiiiiide off. Pour the kids some pop and yourself a microbrew. Have Yum!

Any tips or tricks for the perfect dough consistency? Got favorite topping combos to share? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!


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[…] Pizza Night! How to Organize Your Recipes Steak with Lime Marinade and Spinach Salad Lazy Gourmet: Oven Pancakes “Doctored” Bolognese Sauce Mushroom and Chicken Risotto (These are just my posts, but my partner in food crime Katy K has cocktails, salads, and apps up for you too!) […]

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