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PIZZA PARTY! Part 1 – the crust

2009 July 7
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by taiyyaba

Beautiful pizza dough, fluffy from rising for a good amount of time

I’ve wanted to know how to make homemade pizza for a very, very long time. I was too chicken to try it myself though because frankly, yeast scares me a little. I scoped out my target carefully. I narrowed it down to Mario Batali, because he just cracks me up, and Angela, because she used to bring delicious looking homemade pizza for lunches. Mario was busy when I called, so I asked Angela for help.

Now, to give you a little background, Angela and I both love to cook. In fact, we spent much of our 8:45 am Professional Responsibility class talking about food over G-chat (while sitting next to each other). But, the first time we actually got together to cook something……the Infamous Brownies happened. They were…..well, quite possibly the worst thing I’ve ever baked. We won’t talk about it any more than that. It’s quite traumatic.

BUT since then, the score is in our favor. Food – 1. Angela and Taiyyaba – 3 (one for the pizza, one for the focaccia, and one for the calzones with the leftover dough – coming later!)

Making the Dough
Pictures are in Lightbox – click the first on the left to start the slideshow.

Introducing Angela V., pizza chef extraordinaire.

I told Taiyyaba that making pizza is unpredictable and all improvisation. This is especially true when you forget to bring the trusted recipe with you for Girls Only Pizza Night. I decided to wing it.

Also, I always have trouble making a really great batch of dough when it is humid outside – it gets icky and sticky. Naturally, I was worried when I noticed the weather that day.

In short, we had all the odds stacked against us as we made the dough.

Step 1: Mix together 1 c. of flour, 1 tbs. sugar, 1 tsp. salt and 1 package of dry yeast (equiv. to 2 ¼ tsp.). We used Taiyyaba’s sweet KitchenAid mixer right off the bat because when you get to the next steps, you really need the mixer. I use my slightly lower-grade Sunbeam mixer – more on the differences we found later.

While mixing, heat up some water. Taiyyaba and I used her electric kettle and I do the same thing at home. Just be sure not to heat it all the way to boiling. You can do the same thing in a microwave or on the stove.

Step 2: Add 1 c. of the (very) warm water to the flour mixture. Beat with the mixer on medium for three minutes, scraping the bowl.

Step 3: This is the important part, so don’t rush it – Add the flour, about ½ c. to 1 c. at a time, slowly. The total (including the 1 c. in step 1) will be between 2 ½ to 3 c. Just look to see what it looks like. If it’s pulling away from the bowl and soft, that means it’s time to take it out.

Step 4: Cover a board with flour and reserve some flour to add to the dough. Knead for 5 to 8 minutes, adding flour as necessary. It is useful for this part to have someone else to knead the dough for you – a friend (Taiyyaba) or a little brother (I usually make him do this step when he is around).

Step 5: Cover it with plastic wrap (literally, just lay the wrap over top of it) and let it rise for 30 minutes. You can leave it on the board for longer, if you are waiting for people to come or preparing lots of toppings.

Step 6 (making thin-crust pizza): Heat oven to 415°F and grease two pizza pans or just regular baking sheets (we used mostly baking sheets). Stretch the pizza out by hand, fitting it to the pan. [me: for some extra oomph, we sprinkled the dough with garlic powder and herbs before baking.] Bake the dough for 7 or 8 minutes or until it turns a little brown. Add toppings and bake for another 8 to 10 minutes.

This dough can be used for two regular-sized pizzas or (as Taiyyaba and I did the following week) can make four calzones (we froze the dough in the meantime).

Note on mixers: we used Taiyyaba’s big KitchenAid mixer to create the first batch of dough. Any number of things could have gone wrong: (1) the water was too hot; (2) the air was too humid or (3) the mixer was too big for a small batch (the same size batch turns out much better on my smaller mixer). We made a double-batch the second time and it turned out much better. Best way to describe really wonderful dough: smooth and slightly powdery with flour. [TQ addendum – come on, Angela. We both know perfectly well you described it as “baby butt soft” dough.]

Well, that was the awesome pizza dough! Toppings post coming soon!

2 Responses leave one →
  1. Ellie permalink
    July 15, 2009

    I vote for the toppings to be pesto (over tomato sauce), shrimp (trust me), tomatos, garlic. Served with Parmesan cheese and a fresh squeeze of lemon.

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