There is something so warm and comforting about the smell of baking bread when it is cold and dark outside. On those days, I find myself scouring cookbooks and food blogs looking for the recipe I will bake. Last night, it was home made pizza from a cookbook my mother-in-law made for Chris when he left home.
Making your own pizza dough is actually quite simple. It involves paying attention for small periods of time, lots of ignoring, a few minutes of baking, then - VOILA! - pizza!!
Yes, it is that simple. Okay, it might take a little longer the first time or two, but after that, it is simple AND quick.
1 tbsp quick yeast (store it in a sealed jar in your fridge)
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup of water, hot from the tap (100*C if you have a meat thermometer)
Allow the yeast to dissolve and start frothing, it should take about 10 minutes.
If your glass bowl is too small, dump the wet ingredients into a larger mixing bowl and add:
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups of flour
Once you have a dough that is sticking together, dump it onto a clean floured surface and knead.
To knead, you push the heels of your hands (below your thumbs on your palms) into the dough, pushing away from yourself. Fold over the top and repeat. Fold over the top right edge, rotate the dough counter-clockwise, and push in with your heels of your hands. Go all the way "around" the dough once or twice.
After kneading for a couple of minutes, the dough will be gorgeous! It should not stick to your fingers, but will be sticky to the touch, kind of like a post-it note.
Pour 1 tbsp of oil into a large glass bowl and use the dough to spread oil all over the sides of the bowl, making sure to cover the dough in a light film of oil as well. This prevents it from sticking as it grows.
Cover the bowl with cling film or a clean, damp dish towel and set in a warm area to rest. Set the timer for an hour and go do something else.
After an hour, the dough will have doubled in size. Rip the dough ball in two and roll out the dough in the flour that is still on the counter from kneading.
You should be able to make two medium/large pizza shells from this or one super huge one.
I pre-bake the shells so they are cooked and all that needs doing with my pizza for dinner is melting the cheese!
Pre-bake at 230*C (450*F) for 5-8 minutes, until the bottom is just starting to get golden. The pizza shell here is about 2/3 of the dough ball.
Remove from the oven, top as you’d like, broil for 3-5 minutes, and enjoy!
Not sure what to put on your pizza? Simple is better - I usually only have 5 or 6 including the sauce and cheese.
Choose a theme and go with it. Here are a few theme ideas and ingredients that could go on that pizza:
- alfredo: cheese sauce, chicken or seafood, garlic, other cheeses...
- Mediterranean: capers, olives, spinach, feta, peppers, chicken or beef, grilled asparagus or eggplant, onions, tomatoes, hummus, roasted garlic...
- BBQ: chicken or beef, a few baked beans, peppers, fresh or sauteed onions and mushrooms, bbq sauce
- Leftovers: whatever meats are in the fridge, chopped and sprinkled all over, add pizza sauce, veggies, and cheese - yum!
Try to think outside of conventional for the sauces; here are a few ideas:
- olive tapenade
- roasted red pepper sauce
- hoisin sauce
- spaghetti sauce
- leftover chili
- cheese sauce
- bbq sauce
- garlic butter
- teriyaki sauce
- hot sauce
- soft cheeses like cream cheese, goat, or ricotta
Also, limit the cheese and toppings on the pizza - if they are too thick, you will not be able to pick up the pizza or warm them all through. Any “wet” toppings, like fresh tomato or pineapple should go on top of the cheese. For each of these medium/large pizzas, I only grate 1 cup of cheese once it’s on, that’s it.
This was dinner last night... a Mediterranean pizza that had roasted garlic, chicken, kalamata olives, feta, mozzarella, and roasted asparagus. Yum!