Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Pizza Dough

Pizza dough. The foundation for any good pizza. Let's do this.

Here's what you need:

3 cups white bread flour
1/2 cup semolina flour (it's more granular, plus you use it for stuff other than baking, as you'll see in a minute)
2 tablespoons quick rise yeast
a squirt of honey
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tablespoon salt

Equipment needed:

Pizza Stone - Quite possibly my favorite kitchen apparatus, aside from my iron skillet, and the oven itself. It's a porous stone that stays in your oven all the time. This will give your crust, or bread, or anything you bake on it a great crispness that you'd find in a pro pizza oven. It stores heat too, so when the oven cycles on and off, you get a nice constant temperature. Not expensive at all, I got mine for $30 at Sur La Table.
Pizza Peel - Some people call it a pizza shovel. Whatever you call it, its the paddle thing that is used to get the pizza flat on the stone and to take it out and move it around. They come in aluminum or wood. I personally like (and have) the wood one, because it just so happened that the wood ones at the store were bigger than the aluminum ones. Larger paddle area = larger pizzas. There's something you need to know about untreated wood pizza peels (or cutting boards, or any wood used in the kitchen) and that's that you need to treat it with mineral oil a couple times before your first use, and again every time you wash it. This video from CHOW explains everything.

Here's what you do, if you're mixing it by hand. I'm not going to give you mixer instructions because I don't have a mixer, plus, the pizza becomes more rewarding after you've put some muscle into it. Also, maybe wear an old shirt, because you will get flour-y:

1) In a large mixing bowl, add the water, salt and honey. Stir it up with a large metal spoon, until everything is more or less dissolved, add the yeast, stir some more, then let is sit for five minutes.
2) Add the olive oil then the semolina flour, while stirring, avec spoon, with your other hand. Once that is more or less mixed, add the remaining flour and keep mixing. At this point, the spoon will be useless against the powers of the dough, so get your hands in there. I like to lightly coat my hands in flour before starting to mix, just so the stick-factor is reduced. Mix till there is a coherent mass. If your dough is too wet and sticky, add small amounts of flour, conversely, if it's too dry, add small amounts of water.
3) Does your dough look like a ball? Good. Okay you're done... No, just kidding.
4) Take out your pizza peel, (or just use an empty counter top) and cover it in flour. Drop your dough on the surface and get kneading. It's pretty much impossible to over-knead dough. Kneading develops the gluten in the bread, which is quite a good thing. This is the time for self-expression, or maybe even a little stress relief. You can pound the dough any which way, stretch it, fold it, whatever. Just follow your heart. Do this for about 15 minutes or so.
5) Wash and dry your big bowl, then coat the inside with a bit of flour. Put your doughball inside, cover it with a paper/kitchen towel and let it rise for about 1 hour. After 1 hour, punch it down, get all the air out of it, and let it rise again for another hour or so, until it doubles in size.
6) Once your dough has risen twice, (and you've punched it down twice) you have some options. Depending on how many people you want to feed, I usually cut the dough in to 4 pieces. Then I'll wrap three in saran rap, put them in a container and then into the freezer. That one baseball sized dough portion will be enough to make one medium pizza, so it can feed one or two, depending on who you are.

This concludes my dough recipe. I have been working on pizzas for a few weeks now, trying different doughs and procedures, and this is the one I like the best. Now you know.

But you may ask, "Yo, I wanted pizza, not dough, your blog sucks."
To you I say, "Yes, I understand, I split up the posts for pizza and dough, so it's easier to link back to. And YOU suck."

What do drink: We'll considering you'll be making this ahead of time, I would suggest something non-alcoholic like an Arnold Palmer. But then again, if you're making it the night of, then definetly Fat Tire. Yes, that's my final answer.

What to listen to: Making dough is a pretty organic procedure, especially when mixing and kneading by hand, invariably you'll want music to reflect this: Devendra Banhart, Rejoicing In The Hands

Now, lets get pizza!

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