Friday, June 10, 2011

Pizza from scratch

Scratch-made pizza is not as difficult as one might imagine, but time and patience are key. In a pinch store-bought sauce can be substituted, but do yourself a favor and try your hand at making your own; there's nothing quite as satisfying or tasty as home-made. I did not take photos of the sauce being made because honestly there isn't much to see. Just remember to keep the heat at the lowest setting and stir it occasionally. I normally use a quart of whole peeled tomatoes that I have canned from the garden, but you can substitute a 28 oz can from the supermarket, or use 10-12 fresh roma tomatoes: scald in boiling water, plunge into an ice-water bath, and peel. Yes, it is more time-consuming but the flavor is out of this world.
Keep in mind that the recipe below makes a chunky sauce.

Pizza from Scratch

For the sauce
2 Tbs olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 quart jar whole peeled tomatoes (or a 28 oz can)
1 (28 oz) can plain tomato sauce
1 (7 oz) can tomato paste
1 Tbs dried oregano
1 Tbs dried basil

1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over low heat.
Add chopped onion and garlic and cook until onions are
translucent; about 15 minutes.
2. Add spices. Stir.
3. Cut tomatoes into small chunks and add to pot.
4. Drain excess juice into pot, discarding dregs.
5. Slowly stir in sauce and paste.
6. Cook over low heat for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally.

For the dough
1 tsp active dry yeast
3/4 Cup + 2 Tbs warm water
1 tsp sugar
2 Cup bread flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbs olive oil
cornmeal and flour for dusting

They say that cooking is an art but baking is a science; keep this in mind when making the dough. Measure precisely and follow the instructions exactly. Also be aware that humidity can alter the outcome; I have found it more difficult to create thin crust in humid weather because the dough is "springy." Thanks to Jen for turning me on to the pizza dough recipe, courtesy of Janae Monir.

Pizza ingredients

Heat water to 120-130F. This photo shows the temperature just below 120, but that is because you have to move quickly when the water reaches the desired temperature so that the yeast will work correctly. I delayed taking the photo until after the yeast had been added

Add sugar to a small bowl

Pour water into bowl of sugar and sprinkle on yeast. Let mixture work for 15 minutes; yeast will dissolve and foam

Whisk flour and salt in a large bowl

Add yeast/water mixture to flour mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until a rough dough forms

Using hands, knead dough in the bowl until it comes together. Sprinkle on more flour as needed to keep from sticking. Once it is soft and pliable, form into a ball

Lift dough ball from bowl and add oil to the bowl. Roll dough completely in oil. Cover bowl with cling film and let sit in a warm spot for two hours. I have found that placing the covered bowl into the oven with the oven light on gives just the right amount of warmth

After two hours dough will be puffy. Press gently to deflate. Knead back into a ball, recover with cling film, and leave for 15 minutes

On a baking sheet or pizza stone, sprinkle on flour and/or cornmeal

Press dough out into desired size. The dough will rise slightly while baking so if you don't like thick crust make sure to shape a very thin dough

Spread on sauce and add desired toppings. To add flavor to the crust edge, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with a small amount of kosher salt. Note that Bel Gioioso mozzarella is vegetarian-friendly (no animal rennet!).

Bake at 500F for 10-12 minutes


Click here for printable recipe

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