Thursday, October 23, 2008

My First Homemade Pizza

For dinner tonight I made my very first homemade pizza from scratch. I have been wanting to do this for a while, but I've been a little intimidated by the large variety of pizza crust recipes out there. I wasn't sure where to start until I found this very simple crust recipe from The Fresh Loaf. I'm not sure who posted this one, but it is apparently from Peter Reinhart's American Pie. I'm not familiar with any of his books, but I have seen a lot of good stuff posted from them on The Fresh Loaf. To see the post I took this recipe from, click here. I am posting the recipe here as I adapted it using the tips suggested in the post on The Fresh Loaf. First, I halfed the recipe. I also used some bread flour as suggested in the tips.

The Dough:
Makes 2 10-inch pizzas
1 1/2 - 2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup bread flour
1/2 Tablespoon sugar or honey
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup room-temperature water

  • Combine all ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon(or mix with an electric mixer). After all ingredients are combined, allow the dough to rest for 5 minutes. Stir again for 3-5 minutes, adding more water or flour as necessary. The dough should be wetter and stickier than your typical bread dough, but dry enough that it pulls away from the side of the bowl as you stir/mix it. It should not be dry enough to knead by hand.
  • Divide the dough into two pieces, and place each in an oiled freezer bag (I just spray a little olive oil into the bag before putting the dough in). You really only need to mix up this dough an hour before you want to bake your pizza, but a long slow rise at room temperature or cooler allows for better flavor development in the dough. You can freeze the dough, allow it to thaw in the refrigerator for 8-24 hours before you want to use it, and take it out of the fridge and let it warm to room temperature 1-2 hours before you want to bake it. You can also place it in the refrigerator if you want to bake it later the same day, and take it out 1-2 hours before baking. I froze half of the dough this time and let the other half sit in the oiled bag at room temperature for about an hour before shaping, topping, and baking it.
  • When you are ready to bake your pizza, preheat your oven to 450-500 degrees (I used 475). Place a pizza stone in the oven if you have one, or you can use the back of a cookie sheet or whatever you have. I happened to have a round aluminum pizza pan with little holes in it. You can shape your pizza dough by hand stretching it or using a rolling pin to get your desired thickness. I used a combination of the two to get a thin crust. You also want to prepare and top your crust on a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil (don't forget to spray the foil with cooking spray first). This makes it much easier to transfer the pizza into the oven - you just put it in there paper/foil and all.
  • For the sauce, I used the leftover marinara sauce I made for my Baked Ziti Casserole. You can use whatever sauce recipe you prefer. I will probably try the one recommended at The Fresh Loaf next time. After the sauce, I added a few chopped mushrooms and about 1 cup shredded part skim mozzarella cheese. I baked the pizza at 475 for about 11 minutes. Cut into 4 pieces, it was about 200 calories a slice the way I made it.

Overall, I'm very pleased with my first attempt at pizza. I would have like the crust a little crispier. I think it could have stood a few more minutes in the oven, or a higher temp. I'm looking forward to playing around with this recipe and perfecting it to my taste!

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