Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Pizza at Home

I’m not sure if it’s my Italian heritage, the New Jersey upbringing or my obsession with all things cheese and bread, but one thing is painfully clear, I have a deep-rooted passion for pizza. My recent adventures in bread making led me to try my hand at making my own pizza dough. Heck, my great grandfather had a pizza parlor in Jersey so there’s got to be some of it my blood, right?! Fingers crossed and with some serious food blogging research under my belt, I dove in and man am I glad I did.

Homemade pizza is easy and unbelievably delicious! Gooey cheese, crust with a great bite and all the toppings I could ask for. In fact, since you make the dough the night before this could very well be a slam dunk mid-week meal folks. Now my pies may not rival Patsy’s or Grimaldi’s in NYC or the delightful offerings at Flour + Water or Delfina in SF, but they are down right tasty and I am sure going to be making these again. Most famous pizza joints have crazy hot coal or wood burning ovens...something a bit hard to replicate in the typical home kitchen. One way around this is to grill your pizzas. I find making smaller pizzas are easier to grill because slipping them on and off the grill with one or two large spatulas is doable. It’s also a good way to have more variety in toppings with 4 smaller pizzas instead of 2 larger ones. Whatever way you slice it, make your next pizza night an at home one.

Homemade Pizza
(Adapted from SmittenKitchen)

1/2 teaspoon dry active yeast 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons bread flour, plus more for dusting Kosher salt
3/4 cup lukewarm water
1 tablespoon olive oil

Toppings: (unlimited possibilities)
Homemade Sauce (or your favorite jarred variety)
1/2 bag of baby arugula
1 bunch fresh basil
8 slices prosciutto
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup grated Pecorino 2 cups grated mozzarella Freshly ground black pepper and salt

The night before prepare the dough:
Place 3/4 cup lukewarm water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Sprinkle in the yeast, stir and let sit for 5 minutes. Add the flour, olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt and mix on low for 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and mix for 2 minutes, then increase the speed to high and mix until a smooth dough forms, about 2 minutes more.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface, divide into two equal pieces and form each half into a tight ball. Place on a large floured sheet pan, place the pan in a plastic garbage bag, tie the bag loosely or cover loosely in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
(I left mine a wee bit too close :)
Two hours before baking, place the dough in a warm spot. Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position and set a pizza stone on it. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees 30 minutes before you are ready to bake the pizza. Note: if you don’t have a pizza stone, a large inverted baking sheet will work just fine.

Prepare the Toppings:
Organize your toppings for easy assembly line. Warm up your sauce in a sauté pan to a low simmer. If using jarred sauce, add in a handful of torn fresh basil. If not, leave fresh basil on side for garnish. In a bowl toss the arugula with a few teaspoons of good olive oil, salt and pepper. Grate the cheeses and have them in separate bowls.

Prepare the dough:
Dip your hands into flour. On a lightly floured countertop, pat the dough into a disc with your fingertips, then drape the dough over your fists and carefully stretch it from beneath to form a 12-inch circle. You may also use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough out to desired thickness.

Generously dust the surface of a pizza peel or large inverted sheet pan with flour and place the stretched dough on it. You may want to use a sheet of parchment paper instead to help slide the dough on and off the baking sheet if you don't have a pizza peel. The parchment can cook right with the pizza in the oven. Spread ¼ - ½ cup of sauce onto it (depending on if you want a lot of sauce or a little). Leave a ½ inch margin of dough free of sauce for a good crust. Sprinkle the dough with half of the Parmesan, mozzarella, pecorino and some torn basil.
  Bake the Pizza:
Shake the pizza peel slightly to make sure the dough is not sticking. Carefully lift any sections that are sticking and sprinkle a bit more flour underneath, then slide the pizza directly onto the baking stone in one quick forward-and-back motion. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, rotating after 5 minutes. When the crust is golden, the cheese is melted, use the peel to transfer the pizza to a cutting board (or again two inverted cookie sheets will also work).
Place thin slices of proscitto on top of the hot cheese and top with a handful of arugula. Eat immediately and savor every bite!!!!

1 comment:

  1. Homemade pizza is the bomb, I make it all the time. Yours looks wicked good, love the arugula on there!