Saturday, March 12, 2011

Friday Night Pizza

Don't you love it when you know what you are having for dinner every Friday? I do! And for us, Friday has become pizza night. Several of my chef friends have been eating pizza on Friday's for years, but I am just now jumping on the the wagon. I love pizza, but until recently I had not found a pizza dough recipe that I really liked, well more like a dough that is easy to stretch and form. I have used different bread machine recipes and various recipes that I have found in cook books and on the Internet. They are all about the same as far as ingredients, but I just never seemed to be able to stretch them without a ton of work, and then they were pretty ugly.

About a month ago, I spent a wonderful weekend in Houston with some of by chef friends and we had pizza one evening. We had two master pizza makers in our midst so I paid close attention to both their dough recipes and techniques. I was determined to come away having learned their secrets. I'm not sure that I was that good of a student, but I did come away with a dough recipe that I love and some hints on making a better pizza.

Here is the recipe that I have been using since that weekend:

Pizza Dough
Makes 4 balls for 9” pizzas

Ingredients

1 package active dry yeast (I used Rapid Rise yeast and it worked fine. I still sprinkled it over the warm water.)
1 1/2 cups very warm water
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:

Sprinkle yeast over warm water to dissolve and set aside.

Place flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor with steel blade and pulse once or twice to mix the two together.

Add the olive oil to the dissolved yeast and water and, with the processor running, add to the flour in a steady stream. (Be sure all the yeast ends up in your dough). Pulse a couple of extra times to mix well.

Scrape the dough out of the bowl onto a lightly floured board. With floured hands give the dough a few kneads (avoid adding extra flour to the mass). Let the dough rest for 10 minutes, then divide it into four pieces with a sharp knife or dough scraper.

Knead or roll the pieces (without using extra flour) into tight balls.

At this point you can choose to freeze each ball individually in re-sealable bags for future use or refrigerate the balls for up to 2 days on a floured, dishtowel-lined pan, covered with plastic wrap. Or, to use the same day, you can allow the balls to rise at least 1 hour on a floured board, covered with a towel at room temperature. Give them room as they nearly double in size.

To shape the pizza: Take the risen dough ball and dip both sides lightly in flour, then place on a floured wood peel. With your fingertips press the ball down evenly into a disk about 1 1/2 inches-thick and 5 inches in diameter. Lift the dough onto the back of your fists  and gently stretch it, allowing gravity to help you use the weight of the dough to stretch it. Stretch and rotate the dough until it’s about 1/4 inch-thick with a nice thick rim and about 9 inches in diameter. (Try not to let the center of the disk become too thin.) Make sure the pizza peel is well-dusted with flour, then gently lay the disk of dough in the center. Now you’re ready to top your pizza.

This recipe makes very soft dough, which bakes up into the perfect bite of crunchy exterior and soft crumb. Don't overload this dough with topping; it has enough flavor just drizzled with olive oil and a bit of salt. The longer and slower the balls of dough rise, the better the texture and more flavorful the finished crust. Overnight in the fridge is best, but they'll rise more quickly (in an hour or less) if left out on a counter at room temperature.

NOTE: I put my dough in Ziploc baggies once I cut them. Put a little olive oil in the Ziploc bag, coating the entire interior, and then put the dough in. Seal and let rise in the refrigerator. Bring the dough back to room temperature before using…take it from the refrigerator 2 hours before you need it.

Adapted from: http://www.kitchendaily.com recipe and my fellow personal chef Chef Patti Anastasia.




Three stages of pizza dough

I have always used cornmeal to help keep the dough from sticking to my pizza peel when sliding it onto the stone. Well after the Texas Cheffin' Weekend, I learned an easier, and less messier, trick...parchment paper.  I shape my dough on a piece of parchment paper that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.  I then brush the dough with olive oil, sprinkle on kosher salt and black pepper and then add my toppings, being mindful not to go overboard with the toppings. Once I top the dough I slide it onto the stone, along with the parchment paper.

I also learned that a super hot oven is critical. I used to heat my oven to 425F, but learned that a hotter oven is needed for quick cooking and a super crispy crust. I now preheat my oven to 500F and my pizza stone for at least 30 minutes before using. When ready, I cook the pizza for 4 minutes and then pull out parchment paper, continuing to cook the pizza for another 4-5 minutes. At 500F, it does not take as long to cook the pizza.

Now the biggest challenge is figuring out what kinds of toppings to use. So far, I have used sausage, bacon, roasted heirloom tomatoes, roasted peppers, peppadews, basil, black and green olives, fresh mozzarella, wasabi goat cheese, artichokes and hummus. So...what kind of pizza will it be next Friday, maybe....


Pizza sauce, olives, basil and mozzarella and sauce, sausage, olives, and wasbi goat cheese.

Top: sauce, bacon, roasted herloom tomaotes, green peppers, basil,  and mozzarella
Bottom: hummus, artichokes, peppadews, and goat cheese


2 comments:

  1. Your pizzas look beautiful. Friday night pizza has been a tradition in my family going back to before I was born (a LONG time ago). My mom, who will be 79 in June, still makes pizza every Friday night.

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  2. Oh! Your homemade pizzas look delicious...I want to try them all. Have a wonderful week ahead :-)

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