A few weeks back I had posted a recipe for making thin crust Italian style pizza dough. That is a seriously good recipe that some friends have tried since my post and had good luck with. The downside to that recipe is that it needs preparation. Given that I often decide on the day of the meal what we are going to have, too much advance planning does not work too well for me. I would hazard a guess that this is probably a common phenomenon.
Not to worry. Help is at hand. The recipe below, which largely comes from “Pizza – Grill It, Bake It, Love It” by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough works well. While it is not quite as awesome as the aforementioned recipe, it still ranks pretty high on the awesomeness scale and is easy to make.
INGREDIENTS (for about 4 medium pizzas)
2/3 cup lukewarm water
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup bread flour
1 cup all purpose flour
Some extra virgin olive oil
1. Warm a mixing bowl slightly by swishing some warm water in it. This is to ensure that the yeast has a nice warm temperature to do its magic.
2. Mix 2/3 water, yeast, salt and sugar.
3. Wait for the yeast to bubble – about 1 minute or so. If it doesn’t, start again from step 1 – either the water or bowl was too cold or for those of you who believe in it, maybe it just wasn’t an auspicious moment.
4. Sift the flours into the bowl and using your hand starting working the dough.
5. Knead aggressively till the dough is nice and soft.
6. Add a little olive oil – a Tbsp or two and keep kneading the dough. NOTE: The kneading should take you about 10 minutes or so.
7. Cover the ball of dough with a light skin of olive oil and cover the mixing bowl with a cling wrap and set aside for a couple of hours or till the dough has doubled in size.
8. Using a pastry cutter, cut the ball of dough into 4 pieces.
9. Take a piece of dough, roll into a ball, then flatten it.
10. Using your fingers, start poking fingers in the flattened dough, thereby flattening it further (following the cat under the car theory – the more a car rolls over a dead cat the flatter it gets – apologies to any cat lovers)
11. Stretch out the dough using your hands to the size and thickness of pizza you want and you are done. DO NOT USE A ROLLING PIN!
12. Follow the foodydoody rules for making pizza and you should have a winner on your hands – the rules are below.
Rule No. 1 -Use a pizza stone – No two ways about it. If you want a nicely cooked pizza both from top and bottom, use a stone. Preheat the oven and the stone for at least 45 minutes at 450F.
Rule No. 2 – Don’t go crazy on the sauce – You want a nice layer but it shouldn’t overpower the pizza. Skimp a little on the sauce, you should be able to see the dough when you smear the sauce. And, don’t be lazy. Make your own sauce.
Rule No. 3 – Keep the number of toppings under 4 – This includes the sauce and cheese. The ingredients shouldn’t overpower the pizza. A good pizza a zen-like thing. There should be balance between the bread, sauce and toppings.
Rule No. 4 – Dough is king – I found that using an Italian OO flour gave me the best results for both pasta and pizza. This is finely ground flour and works very very well. I found some at Central Market and online. Use this flour if you can get it, or use high-gluten bread flour if you can’t.
Rule No. 5 – Use fresh ingredients – I used grated cheese below. Fresh mozzarella is better. The pizza is way tastier with it. Use your own sauce and fresh herbs instead of store bought sauce and dried basil.