The Forgiving Pizza

March 5th, 2012 § Comments Off § permalink

I got on a homemade pizza kick for a little bit there. I made pizza for 4 out of 5 weekends because pizza is awesome and when you start to make your own it’s even better. I tried 4 different pizza crusts including a wheat crust that flopped. I finally settled on a crust that tastes great when proofed over night and also when used almost immediately. The sauce was the next thing I went after. The first time around I used store bought – that was a mistake. The store-bought kind was watery and flavorless. I made a few different ones and finally found one that works very well with the pizza dough while not overpowering the toppings.

The Dough
1 cup Warm water
1 tbsp White sugar
2 1/4 tsp Active dry yeast
3 tbsp Olive oil
1 tsp Kosher salt
2-1/2 cups All-purpose flour

-Bench proof your yeast. Turn your water on as hot as it will go and place your measuring cup under it to allow the cup to heat up with the water. Take one cup of water and set to the side.
-Put a (meat) thermometer in the cup and wait for it to get to about 112-113 (too much higher and you risk killing the yeast)
-Once it hits the target temp, stir in the sugar and the yeast and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
-After the timer goes off, empty the yeast mixture, olive oil, salt, and half of the flour in the work bowl of your mixer equipped with a dough hook.
-You’ll want to run this on medium/medium-low to reduce the amount of heat that is created. Add the rest of the flour in slowly.
-It’s hard to say how much flour you’ll actually use; depending on the weather I’ve used 2-1/4 cups and 3 cups. Either way, you want a dough that stays together and that isn’t so sticky that touching it leaves lots of dough on your fingers.
-Once everything is combined, roll the dough in a ball and place in a greased bowl in a cool, dark place to rise for about an hour or until the dough has doubled.
-At this point you can either punch down the dough and refrigerate/proof for 24 hours or use it immediately. I’ve done both and both turned out great (but the proofed dough is a little easier to work with).
-Bake at 425° to desired doneness – I like mine crispy.

The crust will yield a 12-16inch crust, depending on how thin you roll or stretch it. I did roll it out super thing one night and made a stuffed-crust deep-dish pizza. Words can’t describe how bad my mouth waters when thinking about that pizza. As always, I top my crusts and pizzas with Italian seasoning liberally.

The Sauce
1 (15 oz) can Tomato sauce
1 (6 oz) can Tomato paste
2 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 1/2 tsp Minced garlic

-Mix all the ingredients together thoroughly and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before using; 6 hours would be better.

I have acid reflux so I take it easy on pizza sauces. This one has subtle flavors and isn’t heavy so you can actually use a bit more than you normally would. Best part? You can whip it up in a minute or two. This is good place for my minced garlic plug. I don’t have the best knife skills and I don’t always have time to mince garlic. I also am not good about using my garlic before it goes bad. Well, a few months ago I discovered freeze-dried minced garlic at the grocery store. Ever since then I’ve stopped avoiding recipes that called for minced garlic. Approximately one heaping teaspoon is equal to a large clove. Just make sure you keep it sealed up and in the refrigerator.

As this post’s title indicates, this pizza recipe is very forgiving. It tastes great even when over/under cooked, proofed or not, cheese only or loaded down with toppings. It is totally worth all the effort and is a good gateway crust to other, more complex crusts. You can also easily make breadsticks from the dough. Just roll out the dough and cut some strips. I use a simple seasoning on top of the breadsticks: 1/4 cup Grated Parmesan cheese + 2 tbsp Italian seasoning. Do it.