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Pizza Perfection

25 May

Pizza is another one of those things that I’ve grown up with. I can remember my dad making homemade pizza when I was a very young girl, and before homemade pizza was “cool”. At that age, my job was helping my mom make the sauce and getting to spread it on the pizza dough.

Pizza is still a very integral part of my family’s life and tradition. (No, I’m still not Italian). Our traditional Christmas dinner at my parents’ house is homemade pizza. Our pizza skills have grown considerably and so have our palates. I really like veggies on my pizza but don’t care for greasy meats. No pepperonis or sausages for me, please!

The older brother with the mad cooking skills actually makes homemade pizza weekly for his family. They love being able to whip up their favorite basic pizza and he loves being able to try new toppings for himself.

Pizza is so amazing for that reason. It lends itself to so many awesome toppings.

Yesterday was the last day of school for my girls this year. I made homemade pizza. They all love it, so even though it’s not an unusual occurrence, it’s still a treat for them. They like it with cheese and cheese – light on the sauce, but heavy on the cheese.

I have been trying out new pizza dough recipes lately. I just wasn’t thrilled with the one I had been making (for most of my life). It wasn’t as flavorful or as crisp as I like. I have tried several whole wheat crust recipes, thinking that would give me the flavor and crunch I wanted. They did not. So, I kept searching. I talked to my aforementioned brother about pizza dough, and he said the key is better flour. As I was looking at pizza dough recipes yesterday I came across one from Jamie Oliver, the naked chef. I liked it; well, most of it. I also read several different things about pizza making that had eluded my previously. So, with recipe in hand and tips to try out, I was excited to try it all out.

The results were phenomenal! The crust was thin and crisp with fantastic flavor. It was the perfect foundation for building a delicious pizza. Which I did. The hubs and I both agreed that the pizza I made for us (remember the girls just like cheese) was the best I have ever made. I even took a piece down to my mother, who seemed skeptical at the sight of it. She agreed that it was very good. On the grown up pizza I used a very, very light amount of pizza sauce followed by Ricotta Cheese and Mozzarella. I added some thinly sliced chicken breast that I had marinated and cooked in my grill pan. I followed that with caramelized onions and finished with some grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

Other than the new recipe I did a couple of things differently. Even these slight differences were noticeable. First, I turned my oven to a hotter temperature. I cranked my oven up to between 450 and 500 degrees F. The next thing was the use of parchment paper. My usual style is to use my pizza stone dusted with corn meal. I came across a couple of suggestions to use parchment paper in the bottom of pizza pans and a discussion board talking about using parchment on the stone. The transfer of the pizza to the stone has always been a struggle for me. I don’t own a paddle, and even with a paddle (which I have used at my parents house) I struggle. I rolled out the dough on the parchment, topped the pizza, and scooted the parchment onto the back (upside down bottom) of a baking sheet, then carefully sliding the parchment onto the stone. Voila! It worked like a dream. It was just as simple to take off of the stone using the parchment onto the back of the baking sheet and then cooling a few minutes on that before removing to the cutting board.

Here is the recipe that I used, with the changes that I made. I also halved the recipe from its original. I got 4 crusts out of the recipe I made. It was perfect! I also used my Kitchen Aid with dough hook to make the dough. Mwah.

Jamie Oliver’s Pizza Dough Recipe

  • 3 ½ cups bread flour
  • 1 ½ to 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 ¼ cups lukewarm water

Add the flour and salt to the bowl of the mixer, making a well in the middle. Heat the water to lukewarm in a large microwave proof measuring cup, add the yeast, sugar, and olive oil and leave for a few minutes. Gently mix the ingredients in the measuring cup with a fork, the pour gently into the middle of the flour. Mix at a slow speed until the liquid starts to incorporate into the flour. Increase the speed on the mixer gradually. Once all of the ingredients have become mixed, turn the speed up to medium and mix for 5-7 minutes. The dough will pull away from the sides and bottom of the bowl and become smooth and springy. Lightly oil the bottom of the bowl with olive oil and cover with plastic wrap. Let it sit in a warm area until doubled in size.

When the dough has doubled in size, dump it onto a floured surface and punch down the dough. This is a quick kneading to get the air bubbles out of the dough. Form the dough into a large ball. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into fourths (I was able to get 4 good sized pizzas using this recipe). Make balls of the cut dough, placing 3 back into the bowl. Cover with the plastic wrap.

On a well-floured surface, roll out the dough to desired thickness. For yesterday’s pizzas I started on a well floured surface, then put down my parchment on the floured surface and finished rolling on the parchment.

Top your pizza dough with sauce, cheese, and any wonderful things that you desire. Bake at a very hot oven for 6-10 minutes, until the edges of the crust are lightly browned and the cheese is melty.

For a full description of the original recipe go to

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/jamie-oliver/pizza-dough-recipe/index.html.

Have fun with your pizza building and pizza EATING!

Mangia!

 

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Posted by on May 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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