Tag Archives | homemade pizza

Speedy Pizza Dough + OXO Pizza Tools

I believe that the process of learning a new kitchen skill is much like learning a new dialect of a language you already speak. In the beginning, you feel awkward and mistake-prone. However, over time you begin to find markers in the landscape and soon enough, your brain builds the pathways necessary for increasing mastery. Eventually, you find that the new knowledge informs your previous understanding and brings greater depth to that which you thought you’d already known intimately.

This is why, despite having at last seven pizza joints within a three block radius of my apartment, I make my own pizza. Because it informs my baking and cooking, deepens my grasp of caramelization, and tastes mighty good, to boot. (I learned a great deal about making pizza from this free Craftsy class taught by baking great Peter Reinhart. If you have the time, I highly recommend it.)

Over the years, I’ve tried a number of different pizza dough recipes. When I have an active sourdough starter and I plan ahead, there’s nothing more delicious than a naturally leaven crust. Other times, I’ll use a recipe with very little yeast and do a long, slow rise.

However, most often, I have neither a sourdough starter at the perfect stage of readiness or the time for an overnight rise. When that happens, I use this recipe. It has a generous amount of instant yeast and gets mixed by hand, for a fast rise and a minimum of fuss.

Now, if you have the time, you can let this dough do a second rise, which increases its tangy flavor and makes it even more delicious. But that’s entirely optional. Once the dough is ready, you divide into two portions and then work them flat. For most of my pizza making life, I stretched my dough out on a sheet of parchment paper, topped it and then carefully transferred it to a hot baking steel.

However, recently the folks at OXO sent me some of their pizza tools to try and I’ve fallen hard for their non-stick pizza pan. Instead of using and trashing a sheet of parchment for every pie (and sometimes setting it to smolder in my very hot oven), I work the dough out into a round on the pan (the trick is to work the dough with damp hands and then let it rest for a minute or two. If you keep working it without a rest, it bounces back into a ball), top it, and bake all on the pan.

When it comes to topping my pizzas, I go simple. A jar of homemade sauce (my favorite small batch recipe is in Preserving by the Pint), a combination of grated mozzarella and cheddar, and some slivered onion and pepper (I’m loving the OXO Grate & Slice Set they sent for this prep). If we have it, Scott likes pepperoni, but it rarely feels necessary to me.

Baked at 475F on a pre-heated baking steel (I love this thing! I’ve owned and cracked several ceramic pizza stones over the years, but the steel is indestructible), the finished pizza is ready after 10 minutes or so (if you’re using a non-stick pan like I am these days, make sure to check out OXO’s non-stick safe pizza wheel).

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Sponsored Post: Perfect Pizza at Home with Craftsy

finished pepperoni

This post is the next installment in my sponsored content partnership with Craftsy. This time, I took Peter Reinhart’s Perfect Pizza at Home course. It was amazing and changed my relationship with homemade pizza forever. Read on for more!

rising pizza dough

I’ve long been of the belief that even bad pizza can be good, if the circumstances are right. For instance, free pizza that appears in your workplace around lunchtime. It doesn’t have to be particularly excellent pizza in order for the ravaging hordes to descent and empty those boxes in record time.

risen dough

Also in this category is pizza eaten at the airport during a layover, pizza obtained in the late night hours after one too many drinks, and pizza provided by friends after you’ve helped them move.

And, until last week, this category included my own homemade pizza.

flattened dough

Years ago, I got myself a pizza stone and tried to up my homemade pizza game. However, every attempt yielded gummy, tough crusts and toppings that slide right off the slice with the first bite. I kept making it, because of my belief that even bad pizza could be good. In my heart, I knew it could be better, but I never took the time to make it so.

sauced pizza

Happily, it has all changed thanks to Peter Reinhart’s free Perfect Pizza at Home course. This is a class offered by Craftsy and it has totally changed my homemade pizza ways.

pepperoni pizza unbaked

The class is broken up into five sections. After a quick introduction, Peter goes into a primer on dough. I was interested to learn that you get far better dough incorporation if you use your mixer’s paddle rather than the kneading hook for the dough. I had always assumed that the hook was best.

sliced pepperoni pizza

I appreciated the variety of dough options that were offered in that section (hooray for the part whole wheat crust). I was also taken by instructions to pull and fold the dough every five minutes. It didn’t take any major kneading to create a light, perfectly chewy dough and I’ll be doing it this way from here on out.

bottom char

Next up was the segment on sauces and cheese. I’ll confess that I already have a favorite pizza sauce (the recipe is in Preserving by the Pint), but it was liberating to be told that a bit of cheddar cheese tossed with your mozzarella is perfectly acceptable.

mushroom pizza

I think I learned the most from the making and baking segment. There are so many good tips about shaping your dough into the pizza shape (make sure to let the dough rest in between stretching attempts, or it will keep bouncing back) and getting the pizza stone good and hot (crank the oven as high as it will go and heat the stone for much longer than you’d think).

mushroom crust

I was also encouraged by the gluten-free pizza unit. My sister can’t handle the gluten and I love the idea that I can still make her delicious, satisfying pizza.

If you want to take the Perfect Pizza at Home class, click here to register!

For more on my year-long partnership with Craftsy, head over to the first post in the series, all about my experience taking their free Knife Skills course.

Official disclosure statement: This post was sponsored by Craftsy. I was compensated for my time. However, all opinions remain entirely my own.

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Dark Days: Local Bits, Pieces and Pizza

roasted brussels sprouts and ham

I had a harder time cooking for the Dark Days challenge last week than I ever have before. It’s not that we didn’t eat locally. There was carrot soup, made from farmers market carrots and onions, and simmered in chicken stock that I made from local chicken feet and pressure canned last summer. A roast chicken that had once happily roamed a pasture out in Lancaster County. Freshly made (although not by my hands) fettuccine, tossed with sauteed portobello mushrooms, kale, onions and ricotta (the veg was all-local and the ricotta was freshly made from Claudio’s).

But there were also things like the cauliflower I pureed with some dill havarti on Tuesday night. The cauliflower was from the Italian Market, bought two for a $1. Cheap, nutritious, but from far, far away. The cheese was a hunk of Trader Joe’s finest, of origins unknown.

DSC_0112

And last night, I made whole wheat pizza to satisfy a craving of Scott’s, who was coming off three weeks of no carbs and, in that moment, needed a slice as much as he also needed air, water and sleep. It is not wise to respond to a hungry man’s request for pizza with the words, “we can’t have pizza, because my flour and cheese aren’t local.”

So I made pizza, following Joy’s recipe for dough with flour from the bulk bins at Whole Foods. One was topped with some of my homecanned tomatoes, whole milk mozzarella from who-knows-where, buying club onions and Claudio’s pepperoni. Another wore that same base, with local ham, those same onions and slivers of red pepper from Mexico.

DSC_0115

We ate the pizza with a side of roasted brussels sprouts (bought from local farmers at my Saturday market) and a great deal of satisfaction.

While there is no one meal I can look at from the last seven days and say, “Yep, that one there, that’s my Dark Days meal for the third week in January,” the challenge was with me in some way with each bite I took. And I think that that’s really the goal.

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