Wednesday: Pizza!

Although we sometimes have regular pizza from Papa John’s or take-and-bake from Papa Murphy’s, my favorite pizza is from a home-made crust.  My family has made pizza crust from scratch for almost as long as I can remember, and I distinctly recal my mother showing me where on her regular mixing bowl to fill the warm water to, how much yeast to add and how much flour gets added to that.  We kneaded the dough by hand on our kitchen counter and pressed the resulting dough in pans that were handmade by my Uncle Doug, a metal-spinner by trade.  I now use America’s Test Kitchen’s food processor method, and I’m working on my crust-tossing techniques (I haven’t gotten to a full toss yet, but we’re getting close).  I use our pizza stone and parchment paper to develop more of a brick-oven style crust.  Anyway; here’s the recipe!

Pepperoni Pizza

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups water, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (plus more for oiling the bowl)
  • 4 cups (22 ounces) bread flour, plus more for dusting the work surface and hands
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • fresh basil
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces pepperoni, peeled and sliced thin (it sounds like they expect you to buy pepperoni from the sausage store and peel and slice it yourself, but I usually buy a huge bag of pepperoni slices at Costco and keep it in the freezer for use as necessary.
  • 4 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 1 cup) or more, to taste
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese or more, to taste

Preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.  After 10 minutes, turn the oven off.  You now have a perfect proofing box.
  2. Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup.  Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand until the yeast dissolves and swells, about 5 minutes.  Add the room-temperature water and oil and stir to combine.
  3. Process the flour and salt in a large food processor, pulsing to combine.  Continue pulsing while pouring the liquid ingredients (holding back a few tablespoons) through the feed tube.  If the dough does not readily form into a ball, add the remaining liquid and continue to pulse until a ball forms.  Process until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 30 seconds longer.
  4. The dough will be a bit tacky, so use a rubber spatula to turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Knead by hand for a few strokes to form a smooth, round ball.  Put the dough in a deep oiled bowl an 8-cup Pyrex measuring cup and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise until doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  I have special dough-rising talents.  I have to check my dough after about 1/2 the time, and it’s often done rising at that time.  I use the 8-cup measuring cup because it’s really easy for me to see when the dough is done rising.  Press the dough to deflate.
  5. While the dough rises, prepare the pizza sauce.  Heat the oil and garlic in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the garlic is sizzling, about 40 seconds.  Add the basil and cook untilo fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes.  Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the sauce thickens enough to coat a wooden spoon, about 15 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Place a pizza stone on a rack in the lower third of the oven.  Heat the oven to 500 475 degrees for at least 30 minutes.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Use a chef’s knife or dough scraper to divide the dough into three pieces.  From each piece of dough into a smooth, round ball and cover it with a damp cloth.  Let the dough relax for at least 10 minutes but no more than 30 minutes.
  7. Spread a large piece of parchment paper on the counter for shaping and transporting the crust.  Working with one piece of dough at a time and keeping the others covered, flatten the dough ball into a disk using the palms of your hands.  Using a combination of stretching the dough on the counter and tossing the dough, shape each of your dough rounds into a flattened pizza shape.  Prick the dough in several paces with a dinner fork.
  8. Lightly brush the dough round with olive oil.  Spread 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce over the dough round, leaving a 1/2-inch border uncovered.  Scatter a third of the pepperoni slices over the sauced dough round.
  9. Slide the dough onto the heated stone.  Bake the pizza until the crust edge starts to brown, 6 to 12 minutes.  Sprinkle with 1/3 cup mozzarella and a third of the Parmesan and continue baking until the cheeses melt, 2 to 3 minutes more.  Remove the pizza from the oven, let rest for 5 minutes, and serve.  Repeat the topping and baking steps for the remaining two crusts.

Alternate preparation method:

  1. Follow steps 1-4 and 6-7 above, skipping step 5. 
  2. Lightly brush the dough round with olive oil.  Slide the dough onto the heated stone.  Bake the pizza until the crust starts to turn golden-brown, about 3 minutes.  Remove the pizza from the oven, cool on the counter for 30 minutes or so, and wrap with plastic wrap to store.  While the first pizza crust is cooking, you can shape the second crust (with practice).
  3. Par-baked crusts will last for up to a day on the counter, up to a week in the refrigerator, or for up to two months in the freezer (wrapped in plastic wrap AND foil).  When you are ready to prepare a pizza, make the sauce.  Since the pizza will already be par-baked, you’ll put the sauce, pepperoni, and cheese on all at the same time, and bake until the cheese is bubbling and staring to brown.

The Verdict:

We love this pizza.  We especially love to make several crusts and have a potluck-style dinner party where guests bring their favorite toppings to use during the final preparation stages.

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3 Comments

  1. May 30, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    […] 30, 2010 at 10:00 pm (Uncategorized) I went over the recipe I use for hand-tossed pizza crust here, but I have worked out the technique a bit, so I thought I’d share my tips.  I found a […]

  2. June 12, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    […] pots and pans and prep bowls).  Anyway, here’s my newest realization:  instead of using my regular recipe, I think I’ve fully converted to the slow-rising option (below).  The first time we tried […]

  3. June 12, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    […] Note: recipes for many of the above ingredients can be found here. […]


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