Monday, September 03, 2007

Mangia Mondays

Homeade Pepperoni Pizza

Making your own pizza dough is surprisingly easy, particularly if you have a food processor.

Crust - adapted from Mark Bittman

1 tsp instant or rapid rise yeast or 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
2 1/2 C AP flour (more if needed)
1/2 C cornmeal (Bittman specifies semolina flour, but I never have semolina. However, as a good Southern girl, I have cornmeal which is close enough. The semolina/cornmeal adds some crunch to the crust. If you prefer it sans crunch, just put in 3 C flour.)

1 C water (do NOT pour all of the water in at once - add gradually)
2 T olive oil

Combine all dry ingredients in food processor and whiz until mixed. Add water and olive oil through the feed tube. It's been so humid down here that I have not needed the whole cup of water. The dough should form into a nice ball - not sticky.

Turn it out onto a floured work surface and knead for maybe a minute. Put it into a bowl and coat with olive oil and let it rest for a couple of hours or so. Sometimes, my yeast is a bit off and I find that this recipe produces very little first rise, but I just keep going. The crust tastes good regardless.

Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Knead each for a few minutes and form into a small ball. Cover the balls of dough with a tea towel and let them rest (no more olive oil) for another hour or so.

Roll or pat into a pizza and cook at 500F for about 7-8 minutes. Go light on the toppings - otherwise the 'za will be soggy. 1 pizza should serve one person. The thinner you roll out the dough, the crispier your crust will be.

I highly recommend the purchase of a pizza stone and a peel. You find lots of discussion about just getting an unglazed quarry tile from Home Despot for your pizza stone, but I found a perfectly great pizza stone for $10 at Target (my Home Despot only had glazed tiles). I did go to Williams-Sonoma for my peel, but it was only $14 and it gets quite alot of use.

Put some cornmeal down on your peel (this works much better than flour), put the rolled out pizza dough top, and add toppings. Be sure to give the peel a short jerk to make sure your pizza will slide into the oven easily. At 500F, you don't want to be messing with a pizza that folds up. If the pizza does not slide easily, take a bench scraper or metal spatula and wiggle it under the pizza until the pizza comes up. If you have not enough cornmeal or too many toppings, the pizza will stick.

This is a really fun dinner for children, as they can help assemble their own pizza.

Wrap leftover uncooked pizza dough in plastic and refridgerate and it will keep for three or four days. Let it come to room temp before cooking.

I have frozen this dough with mixed results. Frankly, it's so easy that I'd rather just make it fresh.