Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Homemade Pizza!

My favorite thing to make these days is homemade pizza. But we all know that you can't make pizza like they do in a pizza parlor, right? They have some secret that we just can't duplicate at home. Ours always comes out ok, but never the same...not! This lousy cook has figured out the secret to making great pizza, and I will share it with you. The secret is simply in having fresh dough to start with. That's it. You can buy premade pizza crust at the supermarket, but it tastes like cardboard, and it ruins the pizza. To make perfect pizza, you have to make the dough, and if you have a breadmaker, it is really easy. It only takes five ingredients to make bread dough.

1 cup of water
2 tablespoons of olive oil
3 cups of regular(I use Gold Medal) flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 1/2 teaspoons of breadmaker yeast

Put them in the breadmaker in the order above, and when you put the yeast in, make a little well in the flour and pour the yeast in the well. You don't just throw all the yeast in. Put the bread pan in the breadmaker and select the dough setting and 90 minutes later you have perfect bread dough. The key to doing it is to use exact measurements. No guessing, be exact. It has never failed me, ever. You can make dough by hand too but it is more labor intensive in kneading the dough, punching down, and getting the yeast ready. I have done it and it worked out ok, but I much prefer the breadmaker. I may put up a recipe for doing it the old fashioned way soon. For now, I will stick to the breadmaker. After the breadmaker has worked its magic, you have a perfect ball of dough. And that is the secret revealed. Take the dough out of the breadmaker and put it on a wooden cutting board or something similiar. Put flour on the cutting board first and spread it out and put a little flour on the ball of dough so it is less sticky. Then I use a rolling pin and begin to roll it out. The pros usually roll it out a little and then toss it into the pizza shape, spinning it around on their knuckles. I have tried that and can do it a little, but it is a learned skill. I just stick to the roller. It doesn't seem to matter. Once I have rolled it out into a pizza shape I transfer that to a pizza stone which it will cook on. You can buy them at any housewares store. Ours came from the Pampered Chef. Here is a point of contention. The pros will preheat the stone in the oven first, while making the pizza on a pizza peel(that paddle like thing they use) and then slide the pizza onto the stone, or directly into their hot pizza oven. I have done that, but it is stressful. It is a little tough to slide the pizza off without wrecking the pizza, which I have done a couple of times. They make it look easy. I don't think it is that easy, or maybe I am just doing something wrong. I have decided to assemble my pizza on the cold stone and then just cook it longer. It works fine, and my pizza doesn't get wrecked. Once the dough is on the stone, I turn over the edges to get the nice edge that holds everything in. Then I am ready to assemble the rest of the pizza. This is the fun part. I start with about a cup or so of pizza sauce. I go with a little more then you normally get at a pizza parlor, because I like it that way. I buy the pizza sauce at the store. It isn't hard to is basically like spaghetti sauce, but the recipes make a quart or more, which is way more than I can use, so I just buy it. Then on goes the cheese. Mozzarella is the traditional cheese. I like that, but I like to experiment with others. You can use whatever cheese you like. My favorite lately is to do a layer of provalone cheese, and then a layer of pepper jack cheese. I love the kick of the pepper jack. Then on go the toppings. Choose whatever toppings you like. One important trick I figured out, and yes, I figured this out myself, is to blot any veggies on a paper towel after chopping them. That removes excess water which otherwise will cover and soak the pizza while cooking, making it too greasy and soggy. Once the pizza is assembled, I put it in the oven at 450 degrees for 25 minutes. If you are brave enough to use a hot stone and slide the pizza on, then it only takes about 12 minutes. Then you have a perfect pizza. We haven't ordered pizza since I learned to make it myself. You can also freeze extra dough and thaw it when you want it, by putting it in the fridge the day before you plan to make the pizza. Give it a try, you won't be disappointed! That is all it takes to make pizza at home like the pros. The photos show the progression from start to finish.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

I agree the dough is everything and the damn near most painful part of the whole experience.

Pepperjack cheese is a beautiful thing.

Nicely done!