Pizza was not going to be my first post. Then this happened:
And I thought, what a perfect demonstration of how I am in the kitchen – impatient, impetuous and messy. This new focus isn’t about me showing off my expert culinary skills (obviously); it’s about actually writing and maybe inspiring others to cook from scratch.
I promise the pizza turned out just fine.
The dough, yo
So, I make pizza a lot and I’m always willing to try a new dough. Last week, I went with Bobby Flay’s pizza dough because the Internet loves it, and the Internet is never wrong (3.5% of the time). I originally passed on this because I (shockingly) don’t have a proper mixer and that’s when I thought you needed a mixer for dough recipes that called for it (you don’t).
This dough pulled together easily and I followed the recipe almost to the T. A few notes:
- I use sea salt, which can appear to taste saltier and since dough is not something that can absorb a lot of salt without affecting taste, I dropped it in half to one teaspoon. Be mindful of the salt you’re using and if you’re sensitive to it, go less to start.
- I don’t temp my water. I throw the spigot on hot for a few seconds to get nice and warm (which as an added bonus drives Blue mad because clearly in those 30 seconds I’m going to deplete the well and raise the electric bill to shocking levels) and then I plop my finger in it and if I can keep it in there for a few seconds without winching in pain, it’s good to go.
- I wound up using 3 3/4 cup flour, but I should’ve gone more. Stickiness of dough can vary depending on climate and weather so keep a careful eye and if it’s sticking at all, add a bit more flour. Do not get all stubborn like me.
- Use bread flour. Trust me on this. I like King Arthur. I only wish they sold organic around here.
- If not using a mixer, wash your hands well and get a wooden spoon. If you have a kid or willing husband, have them pour in the water and oil while you mix. When it gets two thick, toss the spoon and get your hands in there. Beat the crap out of it until it’s properly combined.
- If you need it, this is a great kneading tutorial. Extra tip: If you stand straight, pull in your stomach, and twist a bit, it doubles as a great ab workout.
- For rising, you can warm the oven up to 200 F and then shut it off and throw the dough in there with the door cracked or if you have a nice wide window sill throw it on there (in a bowl, of course).
Sauce it to me
Here’s something startling: as much stuff as I make from scratch (noodles, condensed soups, salad dressing), I rarely make my own sauce. I know. I know. This week, though, I did. I used this recipe because I decided at the last minute and needed something easy. I was going to use fresh tomatoes, but then read the part about it being runnier and decided to pull out a bag of frozen tomatoes (blanched and peeled from my garden).
I mentioned I’m impetuous right? When I get it in my head to do something, I do it. Even if it means grinding still partially frozen tomatoes, while somewhere in my brain a voice screams “for the love of Pete woman, stop it!” Moral of the story: don’t use partially frozen tomatoes. I feel like this should be a given but…
A few notes on the sauce beyond the above:
- It is delicious.
- There is so much freaking garlic in here. Unless you are going to be fighting against a team of vampires that night, scale it back a tad, or at the very least, do not use 7 gigantic cloves of garlic (like me).
- It did not get as saucy as I would’ve liked, but this could’ve been the frozen tomatoes and also that I use the world’s smallest processor and it can only do so much.
Get it together
Once your dough is ready, you can roll or hand toss. I prefer rolling because it gets it the most even, unless you’re a skilled hand tosser then by all means. Ordinarily, I’d use my pizza stone but I broke it the other week so I thought I’d go baking sheet on this. I ran out of parchment paper so I was really flying without a net.
A few notes about preparation (before I show you how I broke all of them):
- Prep your pan or stone beforehand so you’re ready to go.
- Make sure your surface is well floured or your dough will stick. You can roll right on parchment paper if you’re using parchment paper.
That’s what happens when your pan isn’t prepared and your work surface isn’t properly floured. I started prepping it and then realized what I was doing and tried to get it on the pan. Whoops! But I rebounded:
We are pretty vanilla on toppings, l almost always do half pepperoni, but you can top with whatever floats your boat.
Cook, cook, cook it up
The key to a browned crust is a preheated oven. Show your electric company some love and preheat that baby for at least 30 minutes. Now, I’m sure somewhere Bobby Flay has posted suggested cooking times for his dough. I was too busy grinding frozen tomatoes and performing surgery on uncooked dough to look. I went with 500F for the first three minutes. Then I kicked it down to 475F for the next 8 minutes. It did the job, but I would’ve liked it crisper.
Notes on cooking:
- Get that oven preheated. You can start high and kick it down. Also preheat whatever you’re putting the pizza on (stone, baking sheet). You can take it out as you prep the pizza.
- I need to play with times. It was a little too close to soggy on the bottom. I might try par baking with just the sauce next time.
The finished product
If we can ignore the fact that it’s not perfectly round (my mother couldn’t), this was the closest to pizzeria style pizza I’ve ever gotten. Observations:
- I still have some sauce from the recipe I made but I want to try a heartier recipe, something that cooks longer. This sauce was so thin, the pizza came out almost white, and I added a lot. I think adding so much sauce is what made the crust a little soggy.
- I will need to find a better cooking time, so we can get a crisper bottom (after all, isn’t that what we’re all after?).
- I feel like it would perform better on a stone. For no real reason other than I found a ridiculously expensive pizza stone I want to purchase and need justification to get it.
- FYI: The dough divides in half and I used just the one half for three of us. It was plenty.
OK, well, there you go. Happy pizza night!
Edited: After playing around with cooking times, I’ve found that a parbake at 500 degrees with just the sauce for 4 minutes and then turn and do another 3 minutes works perfectly. Pull out of the oven and add the toppings then bake until cheese is melted.