Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Pizza Dough

Tonight's post is going to be short and savory, but it's well worth the time and energy if you decide to bake your own pizza this summer, and who doesn't love garden-fresh tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella and center-slab bacon on a beautiful slice of homemade pizza? There is so much fresh produce that a garden veggie pizza is not only easy to make, but delicious, cheap and healthy (minus that bacon, of course!).

For the record, I know lots and lots of people swear by Trader Joe's pizza dough, but I'd like to challenge them to try this quick and easy recipe from "The Minimalist," Mark Bittman, cookbook author extraordinaire of How to Cook Everything.

Basic Pizza Dough
Makes 1 large or 2 small pizza(s)

1 tsp. instant or rapid-rise yeast
3 cups bread flour, plus more as needed
2 tsps. coarse sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling
about 1 cup water (perhaps 1/4 cup more if need be)
2 tbsps. plus 1 tsp. olive oil

1. Combine the yeast, flour, and 2 tsps. salt in the container of a food processor. Turn the machine on and add 1 cup water and 2 tbsps. of oil through the feed tube (Believe it or not, I did all of my pizza dough by hand... It wasn't that hard, but Mark's way will definitely save you precious time.)
2. Process mixture for about 30 seconds, adding more water, a little bit at a time, until the mixture forms a ball and is slightly sticky to the touch. If it is dry, add a tbsp. or two of water and process for another 10 seconds. (Mark's caveat is if the dough is sticky, add flour, one tbsp. at a time.)
3. Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and knead by hand for a few seconds to form a smooth, round dough ball. For great kneading tips, check here.
4. Grease a bowl with remaining olive oil, and place dough in it. Cover bowl with a damp towel/cloth and let it rise in a warm, draft-free area (I used my front porch... It worked perfectly!)
5. The dough will double in size in about 1-2 hours. You can also let the dough rise more slowly, in the refrigerator, for up to 6-8 hours.
6. Proceed by rolling out dough and shaping into a circle (or square, if that's your preference). I'm still not an expert at tossing pizza dough, so count me out on that front, but I've found with a rolling pin (or makeshift bottle of unopened wine) and patience, you can shape a nice looking pizza.
7. Preheat oven to 500 degrees--the hotter the better, so do this on a cool evening, if possible. Bake pizza with all of your preferred toppings for about 20 minutes. The crust will be a golden bubbly loveliness. I think that's the technical term...

For the pizza above, I created a tomato sauce using diced and stewed tomatoes, shredded mozzarella, crispy center-cut bacon and Missouri-grown yellow tomatoes. The result, I think, was delicious!

Well, I'll be back next week with more tales of blackberry jam, pico de gallo (viva el tomato!), and cherry pie. I've been meaning to get to these three recipes all summer long, and now I finally have the time.

Hugs and high fives,

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