sunday night pizza

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Making pizza is easy. It’s the pizza dough that’s tricky especially if you want to make it from scratch. To make a pizza dough from scratch requires planning. You have to set aside 2 1/2 to 3 hours to make the dough. I liked this pizza dough recipe because the instructions are methodical and clear. This recipe is originally for pizza on the grill but I decided to do it in the oven instead. The crust came out chewy and tender. Definitely I would make this again.

Pizza Dough (adapted from The Kitchn and Bobby Flay)

1 2/3 cups warm water (about 100˚F)
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons active dry or instant yeast
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for brushing
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
salt and pepper to taste

Mix the water and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl until sugar dissolves. Sprinkle yeast on top.  Let stand for 5 minutes until the yeast dissolves and begins to “bloom.” The surface of the water will be covered with a brownish foam. Mix in 2 cups of flour for 1 minute. Let stand, covered 1 hour, to form a sponge.

Using the dough hook on setting 1, stir the oil into the sponge, then add the 2 teaspoons salt. Add the remaining 3 cups flour 1/2 cup at a time. Knead the dough on low speed with the dough hook. Remove from bowl and knead on a lightly floured surface for 5 to 7 minutes. When kneaded, the dough should form a smooth ball, feel smooth to the touch, and spring slowly back when poked.

Put the dough ball into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Poke the dough until it deflates. Remove from the bowl and transfer to a lightly floured surface. Use a pastry scraper or knife to cut the dough into 4 or 8 lumps. At this point the dough can be frozen for later use.

Grease a baking pan lightly with olive oil or baking spray. Place the dough lumps in the pan and turn them over so they are coated with oil. Cover the pan with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel. Let rest 30 minutes. If using frozen dough, let it defrost in the refrigerator then let it come to room temperature about 30 minutes to 1 hour before using.

Heat oven to 200˚C/400˚F.

Working with one piece at a time, roll out dough or pull and stretch a dough ball in your hands on a lightly floured surface. It can be round or long, sort of flatbread shaped. If it springs back, let it rest a few minutes then try stretching it again. Place dough on oiled pan.

Brush top of the pizza dough with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. For toppings, I used fresh mozzarella cheese, tomatoes seeded and sliced, and parma ham. Bake 10-15 minutes or until the edges are golden. Slice and serve immediately.

the best pizza dough for grilling

Whenever a cooking blog makes a claim like that, I think it’s a challenge.  So I think, I’m gonna try this puppy…

Earlier this week, I had read the (April 28, 2015) Kitchn blog by Anjali Prasertong for tips on how to tell whether a recipe from the internet is reliable or not. Besides the no-brainer, “read the comments” and making sure the ingredients match the instructions, Prasertong advises looking for specifics in the ingredients and instructions. I think of my mother-in-law’s quirky butter cake recipe to use “6 eggs.” Well, it made sense. In her day eggs only came in one size, small.  But today, we have four choices as to size: small, medium, large, and jumbo.

Prasertong also recommends looking for descriptions of what you will get at certain stages. America’s Test Kitchen’s marinara sauce recipe includes the reason why deglazing the pan is essential for full-bodied flavor. The last Kitchn recommendation was intuitive; read the whole recipe to get a sense of the recipe-writer’s experience with the recipe. I’ve read many recipes where I was sure the writer never tried the recipe  (or was holding something back) because the result couldn’t be replicated. Many cheesecake recipes on the internet are maddeningly like that. In my experience, another tip-off that the recipe isn’t reliable is the lack of pictures, either of the process and/or the product.

Yesterday, 5 p.m. I applied The Kitchn’s own advice to their recipe for pizza dough.  There were no pictures. The lack of specificity to  “mix the water and yeast together” was a tip-off that all was not well. I could not get the yeast to “bloom” using their instructions to “let stand a few minutes.” After 20 minutes nothing happened but a few feeble bubbles. So I started over, adding a teaspoon of sugar to the water and warmed it. Success. However, the dough kneading was also problematic. The dough wouldn’t form a ball and it was still sticking to the sides of the bowl after 7 minutes on low speed (according to the recipe instructions). Tyler Florence to the rescue. The dough was too wet! Now I don’t know if the dough is over mixed as a result, and as it was too late to make pizza for dinner, I put the dough rounds in the fridge to rest overnight.

The next day, 9 a.m. I removed the pan of dough from the refrigerator. The dough had doubled in bulk quite nicely in the fridge. I separated the balls and put them on a baking tray 2 inches apart on top of a sheet of waxed paper. You can use parchment. I covered the balls with the plastic and put the whole thing in the freezer. But I saved 2 to try for supper. I’m planning to make The Kitchn’s White Pizza with Avocado, Spinach, and Mozzarella.

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