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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Pizza Night

Aside from a few choice places: The Upper Crust, Pino's, and anywhere we ate in Italy, I would rather have pizza we made at home than some greasy takeout. 
After a lengthy search, I have found a great wheat pizza crust recipe.  One of the things I especially like about this recipe is that the dough can be made in one day.  I can't always remember to start pizza dough a day in advance, and then you end up eating in the middle of the night and that's just no good.



Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

You can make this dough by hand without much difficulty, but it's easier with a stand mixer.  In a large bowl, start by dissolving the sugar in the warm water.  Sprinkle the yeast over the water and leave it alone until it gets foamy, about 10 minutes.  It will look something like this when it's ready.

Next, add in the olive oil, salt, 2 cups of whole wheat flour and 1 cup all-purpose flour.  King Arthur Flour is my favorite.  It never fails, and I wish I could hang out at their headquarters in Vermont and take cooking classes all the time.  

Turn the mixer onto low until everything is combined.  You can add a little more flour and knead the bread in the mixer.  I prefer to knead by hand, so I turn the dough onto a well floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until the dough feels tight and smooth.  

Put the dough ball in a large bowl coated with oil, and turn to cover the dough.  Top the bowl with plastic wrap or a clean dishtowel, and set it in a warm place for at least an hour, until the dough has doubled in size.  

I left it for about 4 hours, because I wasn't home, but that's ok.  This is what it looked like, all puffy and risen.  

The next step is fun.  You literally punch the dough down to remove some of the air.  Here is an action shot with my creepy disembodied hand.


Then, split the dough in half, or in four, and form into balls.  Cover and let rise for another 20-30 minutes.  


Roll the dough out on a piece of parchment paper coated with a little cornmeal, and you're ready to add your toppings.  

Instead of purchasing pizza sauce, which often contains sugar, I use tomato puree or sauce, and add seasonings on my own.  
I'd also like to sing the praises of the pizza stone.  It makes all the difference when making pizza at home, and is highly worth the small investment.  

We decided to go with one veggie pizza topped with peppers, onion, and broccoli, and the other buffalo chicken topped with cooked, sliced chicken breast, hot sauce, blue cheese crumbles, and scallions. Here they are before going into the oven:

And after cooking:


There were a few mishaps last night.  First, we forgot to construct the first pizza on the parchment paper, so we had to transfer it afterwards, before cooking, which required four hands, three spatulas, and a mess.  Second, the pizza wheel broke midway through slicing.  This wouldn't have been so bad on it's own, but we couldn't figure out if there had been a little screw holding it together. No one chipped any teeth, so we're assuming no...


Everything was delicious, we have tons of leftovers, and I'm fairly certain no one ate any screws.  


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