Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Best PIzza Dough Discovered

Yesterday was a sad day for me, as my library copy of The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution was due. I've been continuously renewing this all summer, and now I'm out of renewals! I've loved many recipes in here: Potato and Leek Soup, Bolognese Sauce, Beef Stew, Pesto, Cornbread. And I'm eager to try more. I think I have to physically leave the book at the library, make sure no one has been desperately waiting for it, and then head back to check it out again. The one thing we've made constantly from this book was the pizza dough. I flavored it up by using white-whole wheat flour, and it's just delicious. And somehow not as puffy as our first experience. I've shared photos of past pizzas with this dough. And now my freezer is stocked :) Below is my very subtle variation on the original, with all of the quantities doubled because, seriously, if you're going to this much trouble in the first place, why not double the payoffs?

Pizza Dough
Adapted from The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution
{Edited on 10/12/2010; oops! I don't use white-whole wheat flour exclusively, unless I'm interested in a shaggy dough that never comes together and stubbornly refuses to rise!)

  • 4 teaspoons dry yeast
  • 1 cup lukewarm water

Stir the above together in a measuring cup.

  • 1/2 cup unbleached white or white whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup rye flour

Add the above to the measuring cup and mix well. Allow the mixture to sit until quite bubbly, about 30 minutes.

  • 6 1/2 cups unbleached white OR 3 1/2 cups white and 3 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Combine the above in a separate bowl or dough storage container. Add the yeast mixture and the following:

  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Mix thoroughly by hand. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until soft and elastic, about 5 minutes. If the dough is too wet and sticky, add more flour, but only enough to form a soft, slightly sticky dough. Put the dough in a large bowl or back in the dough container, cover with a clean towel or partially open lid, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 2 hours. (Notes from Alice Waters: For an even better-tasting and more supple dough, let the dough rise slowly overnight in the refrigerator. Remove from the refrigerator 2 hours before shaping.)

Divide the dough into two, then divide each half into two, forming four nice smooth balls. Allow the dough balls to rest at room temperature, wrapped loosely in plastic, for an hour or so. Then do either:

1. Freeze dough: Roll the plastic tightly around the disks, and freeze for up to 2 months in a tightly sealed freezer bag. Defrost overnight, then let dough rest at room temperature at least one hour before proceeding as below.

2. Bake dough: Flatten each ball into a disk about 5 or 6 inches in diameter, flour lightly, cover, and let rest for another 15 minutes. Place a baking stone on the lowest rack in the oven (I can't do this since mine cracked! so I put a baking sheet on the center oven rack), and preheat to 500 degrees. Gently stretch each disk into a round roughly 10 inches in diameter, and place on a floured peel or inverted baking sheet. Brush the dough with olive oil, and top with your ingredients, leaving a 1/2-inch border uncovered. Slide the pizza onto the stone or tray, and bake until the crust is browned, about 10-15 minutes.

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