February 27, 2012

Homemade Pizza II

Grace and I made pizza this weekend and it reminded me that since I last posted about pizza, we've found a new favorite pizza crust recipe.  I still like the old one too, but we eat pizza enough to have two favorites.  I found this new recipe on Annie's Eats.  It originally comes from Baking Illustrated.  Quite frankly my attention span is so short that I don't think I ever read through Annie's entire recipe procedure, a mere three steps; I can't imagine what the original recipe entails.   Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly reading through Cooks Illustrated's lengthy recipes, just not while I'm trying to actually make dinner.  But maybe if I did read it, I'd understand why the dough is so easy to work with or why I always seem to have to add at least a cup more flour than it calls for.  Or why Annie's version says it makes enough dough for 2 pizzas, and my batch always ends up being plenty of dough for four (relatively thin-crust) pizzas.  I assume the actual procedure might be a little more involved than just combining the ingredients in my KitchenAid mixer and letting the thing knead it for a few minutes, adding flour or semolina until it looks like pizza dough, but hey, whatever.  This is how I make it and it works for me.  If you're new to pizza-making, be sure to read Annie's post about this crust (linked below).  She has some worthwhile tips and illustrative photos.

This dough has a clean flavor, is freezable and very easy to shape if you coat your hands with olive oil before touching it.  Because it's so simple to roll out, I am in the habit of rolling it out wider than I normal would.  Then after topping with sauce and cheese, I fold the crust over an inch or so creating something like a stuffed crust, or, if I remember correctly, the crust on Woodstock's pizzas.  This way my kids, who won't eat the hard, naked crusts of other pizzas, will eat their whole slice, not just the topped portion. Less waste.

Pizza Crust
Adapted from Baking Illustarted via Annie's Eats
Makes enough dough for four 12" thin crust pizzas.  

1/2 cup warm water
2 teaspoons active dry or instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
5-6 cups bread flour, or a mixture of all-purpose flour and semolina flour
1 1/4 cups room-temperature water
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus a little extra for handling
semolina flour and parchment paper

In the bowl of an electric mixer, dissolve yeast in warm water.  Then add salt, 4 cups flour, water and olive oil. Stir with dough hook or paddle attachment.  Once the mixture is fully incorporated, more flour.   I generally use a total of 3 1/2 cups flour and 2 cups semolina. Knead with dough hook for about four minutes.  Dough should be too moist to form a ball.  Rub a medium mixing bowl with olive oil and coat your hand with oil.  Transfer dough to mixing bowl.  Cover with a cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, approximately 2 hours.

With oiled hands divide dough into two pieces.  At this point I wrap one piece in plastic wrap and store it in the freezer in a ziplock bag for later use. (Just defrost in the fridge overnight before rolling it out and making pizza.)

Preheat oven and pizza stone* to 500 degrees F.  Divide the remaining dough ball in half and roll each half out into a 14" circle on parchment paper that has been dusted with semolina.  If dough is difficult to work with, let it rest for 10 minutes.  Once dough is rolled out, let it rest while you prepare the toppings.  Top as desired and bake 8-10 minutes until crust is golden, cheese is bubbly all over and burnished in places.  Bake one pizza at a time.  Let pizza rest at least 3 minutes before slicing with a pizza cutter.

*If you don't have a pizza stone, use a large uninsulated baking sheet and check the bottom of the crust halfway through baking time.  If it is not crisping up, carefully pull out the baking sheet and parchment , so that the pizza sits directly on the oven rack for the remaining cooking time.

For more notes on topping a pizza, check out this post from the Upstate Cali Kitchen Adventure archives.

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