Saturday, February 28, 2009

Homemade pizza

Donald's family has been making pizza for years. In fact, it wasn't until his early teens that Donald knew that you could call a store and order a pizza and have it delivered in a box. I am not kiding. To this day, every single time we see Donald's parents, pizza is one of our dinners. Its a long process, especially if you are cooking for a lot of people. We like to make it for guests that don't mind hanging out in the kitchen/dining room while we cook at chat. 

This pizza specifically is veggies, but I'll post a few tips for some fun toppings you can use and how to best use them on homemade pizza.

A note on dough. The best dough comes from the Bronx, NYC. Too far away? Fortunately for you, most grocery stores have a dough sold in a ball shape in a bag that will do just fine (freezer bins section, usually). I do not recommend the ones in the cans that you peal and then pop open with a spoon and then roll out onto a baking pan. That stuff is gross. Be a real woman/man and get a dough ball and learn to spread it yourself. 

Homemade pizza

Ingredients (for 1 pizza):
  • Ball of pizza dough
  • handfull of flour
  • spoonful of polenta/corn meal 
  • 1/2 - 3/4 c pizza sauce (I recommend Dom Pepino's sauce, you can find it in small cans at fancy pants grocery stores like Hillers, but otherwise, any will do really)
  • 3/4 c mozzerella cheese
  • Toppings (see notes Re: toppings)
Other things you need:
  • Pizza stone
  • Pizza pan
  • Pizza cutter
  • Beer, coat the bottle in flour for ease of use while cooking

Unlike my normal directions, these will be more in paragraph form. 

First, about 30 minutes before you will start, put the pizza stone in the oven and turn it on to 375. You need the stone to heat through. Place the dough on the counter during this time to let it warm up a little, but do not leave it too long or it will start to rise again. 

Spreading the dough: Flour your counter really well, flour your hands, and pull the dough out. You will probably need to reform the dough into a good ball shape. To do this, toss it between your two hands for a few minutes. It will become more spherical over time. Once this is done, put it on the counter and with the heal of your hand, start to press the dough out into a flat circle. Yes, using a rolling pin is cheating.  Pressing out the dough will take a while, so be patient. If you're feeling confident, you can spread the dough with your fists in the air. To do this, make a fist with your hand, and with your other hand, pick up the dough and lay it over your fist. Make the second hand into a fist and slowly pass the dough around in a circle between your two hands. This will make it thin out very fast, so make sure you're pulling evenly. 

Spead the dough to the desired thickness. We tend to make it very thing, somewhere between your typical hand-tossed and thin crust pizza. Be careful to make your dough only as big as your pizza stone!

Once the dough is spread, take your spoonful of corn meal and put it on your pizza pan. Shake the pan so the corn meal spreads out. This is basically acting as a lubricant for the dough, you will soon see why. Pick up the dough and place it onto the pizza pan. Then, using a spoon, scoop sauce onto the dough. You will want to use the bottom of the spoon to spread it out. Spread it all the way to the edge of the pizza. You want to be able to see dough through the sauce, but have a good even layer across the pizza.

Now, don't put the cheese on.  You're going to bake the dough with only the sauce for 15 minutes on the pizza stone.  Very carefully, pull out the rack in the oven the stone is on. Shake the pizza pan back and forth to make sure the dough can move and is not stuck. Then, transfer the pizza to the stone. I recomend starting at the back of the stone, letting the dough slide off, then pulling the pizza pan out from underneith the dough so it lays onto the pizza stone. I won't lie, this is hard. But you'll get the hang of it!

After 15 minutes, check the dough. The dough itself should be cooked so that it will not bend if you pick up a corner of it. To take the pizza out of the oven, slide the pizza pan underneith it. 
Now you add cheese. And toppings. You will want to sprinkle the cheese cross the entire crust, evenly. Remember that the cheese will spread out as it melts, so you don't need to cover the entire thing. Cheese goes further than you think! Then put the toppings on. For this pizza, we did onions and mushrooms. The peppers shown below also went on other pizzas that night. 

Put the pizza back in the oven, it will be so much easier to transfer to the stone this time!  Let it cook until the cheese is melted into an orange color, see in the picture below!  This will take about 10-15 minutes. 

Now, BE CAREFUL! The pizza at this point is 375 degrees. The cheese is 375 degrees. When you order a pizza, it is cooler than that. If you take a bite too quick, your mouth will hate you forever. Give the pizza 5 min or so to cool down a little. 

Toppings notes:

- If you want sausage or ground beef, you do not need to cook it first. In the first baking cycle, place bits of raw sausage or beef onto the sauce layer and allow to cook. Through both cooking cycles, it will cook through thoroughly. 
- Pineapples are excellent on pizza, but you don't want them to cook more than 10 minutes. I usually put the cheese on, bake for 5 min, then pull it out, toss on pineapple really fast, then close the oven again. 
- Minced garlic is amazing on pizza

Now I want pizza.

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Pancake Bunny

Pancake Bunny
Sometimes, I don't know what I'm doing.