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Tasty Tuesday: Homemade Pizza

Oh, pizza. How I love you. Would you like to make some for dinner? It’s not that hard, I promise.

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by Carrie Havranek

Pizza is serious. If you’ve been reading this site and/or you know me personally, you likely know of my deep abiding love of pizza, and my particular qualifications for what makes a good one. This obsession goes back a long way, and it’s something I’ve chronicled here in what has to be the most commented-on story in the history of the Pocket Guide web site, with 64 of you chiming in and counting. I am clearly not alone.

 

Homemade Pizza fresh from the oven

Mushroom pizza. Photo by Carrie Havranek

This week’s Tasty Tuesday is currently my pizza recipe du jour. I’ve made so many different doughs, some with butter, some requiring no rise, some requiring lots of fussiness. I made a brand new one last night, using my sourdough starter which was good but not chewy enough; it was a little too crispy. I keep going back to this one from Michael Ruhlman, a personal hero of mine, from his amazing book Ruhlman’s Twenty, and I only just found it a couple of months ago. It completely upended my previous protocol, which involved using King Arthur Flour’s perfect pizza blend, but it’s only a three-pound bag and it runs out quickly and sometimes you Just. Need. Pizza. Right. Now. But that’s the beauty of cooking: there’s always something new to learn.

I’m saying this is adapted from his recipe for pizza dough, because I changed a couple of things, but the gist of it is all his. Props where props are due.

It’s important to allow yourself a few hours for this dough to rise, but the nice thing is that this dough does not need more than one rise once it’s done its thing. It’s also advisable, whenever possible, to measure by weight because you will get a more precise measurement. But he lists both volume and weight, and so I will, too. Please have all of your toppings at the ready; pizza making is seriously aided by mise in place because timing is key.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups flour (500 grams)
  • 1 1/2 cups water (300 grams)
  • 1 tsp. active dry yeast (2 grams)
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt or coarse sea salt (10 grams)

Instructions

  1. Combine the flour, salt, yeast and water in the bowl of your stand mixer with the dough hook attached. Mix on medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic. This will take anywhere between 5 and 10 minutes; it may take longer depending on a whole host of ambient factors, such as the temperature and humidity in the room, how precisely you measured the flour, and so forth. You may need to periodically stop the mixer and scrape the sides down a little bit to incorporate any dry bits into the dough so that it develops properly.
  2. When it starts to look smooth, stop the mixer, and tear a piece of dough off. Stretch it. If it stretches and forms what’s called a gluten window—i.e., you can see through it and it doesn’t tear and get scraggly—it’s ready to go. If not, keep mixing.
  3. Remove the bowl from the mixer and cover it with either a pot lid, or plastic wrap. (I also sometimes drape a clean dish towel over the top of the bowl.) You’ll be looking for the dough to about double in volume, and it should take anywhere between 2-4 hours. Not sure how to tell if it’s ready? If the dough does not spring back when you push your finger into it, it’s proofed.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a flat work surface coated with flour. Knead the dough, which will redistribute the yeast in the dough and release the gases that have developed. I like to weigh the dough at this point on my scale before the next step: cut it in half as precisely as you can and weigh each half. Press each half into a disk. Cover each disk with a towel, and let them stand for about 15 minutes. You may, however, need a half an hour. How will you know? If the dough springs back when you try to work with it, it needs more time to rest.
  5. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll each disk with a rolling pin to desired shape and thinness, or stretch it over your fists like you see them do in pizza parlors. I don’t agonize over creating a perfect circle; pizza is impromptu, unfussy food and I like a more rustic, irregular shape.
  6.  Here’s where I deviate from Ruhlman, adding a couple of steps to ensure a cripsy crust. He advises you to just top it and then bake it. I’ll break it down. Bake on a rimless baking sheet coated with a light dusting of flour or cornmeal for five minutes.
  7. After five minutes or so, the crust should be mostly set; if it is, you’ll be able to slide it off the sheet and onto the wire rack in your oven without much trouble. Bake it for about 2-3 minutes, which This will help crisp it up and cook it evenly all the way around. Leave it in there for about 3 minutes or so.
  8. Remove the dough from the oven by sliding it back onto the sheet. Top it with your favorites.
  9. Return it to the oven for about five minutes, until the cheese bubbles and starts to brown lightly.

I’ll offer, in closing, some general words of advice about pizza. Most pizza is oversauced and suffers under the weight of too much cheese. You may think there is no such thing as too much cheese, but do you really want a pizza that’s gloppy and does not maintain its structural integrity? I don’t think so.

Carrie Havranek is a writer in Easton who believes the best pizza is found in New York, followed by Mack and Manco in Ocean City, New Jersey.

 

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One Response

04.03.12

This makes me wish for the days in the near future when basil will be growing on my front sidewalk.

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