Sunday, January 23, 2011

Better Than The Pizza Parlour Pizza

My family eats homemade pizza just about every weekend.  It is incredibly easy to make.  I realize this post is long and the recipe may look complicated.  It is not.  This wordy post is an attempt to thoroughly explain the process for those who are making homemade pizza, and crust, for the first time.  If you make your own pizza and crust, I promise you will never want to eat or pay for delivery pizza again! 

I have a good friend, Gina, who is an expert bread-maker and DIYer, so I have incorporated some of her tips into my recipe.

Better Than The Pizza Parlor Pizza

Ingredients for Crust:
3 cups flour
1 package rapid rise yeast
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 TB olive oil
1 cup water

Ingredients for the pizza toppings:
(These depend, of course, on what type of pizza you'd like.  Here is what I'm using tonight, which is solely based on what is in my refrigerator!)
olive oil
oil-packed sun dried tomatoes
goat cheese

Other items you'll need for this version of the recipe, but are not all required to make a good pizza:
Saran Wrap
Large Metal Bowl
Food Processor/Cuisinart
Pizza Stone
Parchment Paper
Large, flat cookie sheet
cast-iron skillet and ice

1. I use the recipe from the Fleischmann's Yeast website called Food Processor Pizza Dough:
Follow the recipe exactly.  It's very simple; you simply mix everything in the food processor.  When I make the dough, I always seem to add a bit more water.  You want your dough to tacky, but not so sticky that you can't get it off of your hands.

2.  Coat a metal bowl in cooking spray and drop the dough into it.  Spray a long piece of Saran Wrap with cooking spray and completely cover the dough.   Let rise in a warm place.  I put my bowl on top of the stove and turn the vent lights on, which gets it nice and warm.  Let rise at least 40 minutes, but I usually let the dough rise for over an hour.

3.  After 40 minutes....Your dough should be ready.  Turn, on your oven as high as it will go.  (Gina informed me that this is the key to making good pizza.  Apparently, there are websites dedicating to breaking one's oven code in order to make home ovens reach insane temperatures.  I haven't done anything that extreme, but can get my oven to 525, which normally means a tremendous amount of smoke as it desperately needs to be cleaned!)  Now turn out the dough.  You'll want to handle it the least amount possible.  Plop it down in the middle of a large piece of parchment and shape into a circle.  Put your pizza stone in the oven and make sure it heats up with the oven!

TIP: I find one problem with homemade pizzas is that they are soggy.  This is in part due to the crust and the oven not being set high enough, but also to watery vegetables and too much pizza sauce.  I do not use marinara sauce, but instead use olive oil and garlic.  Okay, I used marinara once recently, but used it sparingly.

4.  Then add your toppings starting with your olive oil and garlic.  I usually put spinach down next, followed by onions and ending with cheese, of course.

5.  Tonight I'm trying something new with the crust.  Gina also told me that when making homemade bread, she puts a cast-iron skillet full of ice under the bread, which gives in a nice crust, so I'm going to try that with my pizza crust.  Put your cast-iron skillet on the bottom rack and your pizza stone should be on the upper.

6.   Lift the parchment paper (or slide the parchment paper onto the cookies sheet) and place it on the pizza stone.  To be clear, your pizza does not touch the pizza stone; the parchment serves as a barrier between the two.

7.  Cook on high heat for about 20 minutes.  Actually, I have no idea how long to tell you; it will depend on your oven temperature.  Periodically check on it and lift the edge of the pizza so you can tell how the crust it cooking.

Voila!  Your made from scratch pizza is less expensive, better tasting and healthier than any delivery pizza you could order.  Now pour yourself a large glass of vino and enjoy!


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