Friday, March 4, 2016

Friday Pizza Night!

For many years while in Saratoga, NY  my husband and I would always have a pizza night on Fridays. We would buy the dough chilled and half frozen at the grocery store and it went up fast since a chilled ball of dough pushes down very easily and makes a nice crust. I have a very dark patinaed pizza pie pan from that time decades ago that I still use. Nice deep sides, and blackened with age.

When we moved to Colorado I found that I couldn't find any pre-made pizza dough, but I did have a bread machine and over the years I've gone through many recipes trying to find "The One". The one pizza dough recipe that delivers a thin crust. I've also quized my customers where I worked at Chefs if they were buying pizza pie baking essentials. The best recipe I came across was my competitors- William & Sonoma's recipe- Williams-Sonoma- Bread Machine Pizza Dough.

Here's some tips on making a large slicing pizza- like a NY Style hold-it-in-your-hand-and-roll-it-up kinda Pizza- How to Get Large Slices of Pizza from Small Ovens or Pies

Pizza Pie Thin Crust Recipe-

1 cup Warm Water (a drop on your wrist won't scaled it)
2 Tbls. Olive Oil (3 Tbls. Olive oil works well at High Altitude & Dry climate)
1 tsp. salt
3 cps Bread Flour 
1 Tbls. active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp. for High Altitude)
(High Altitude adjustments require you to add more liquid or flour while it kneads if it needs it. Too dry- add a Tbls. of oil or water. Too wet- add a Tbls. more flour till the dough is a nice smooth looking texture).

Add all the ingredients in the order listed (salt goes with the liquid and under the flour so it doesn't kill the yeast) into your bread machine. Put on Pizza Dough setting and let it do it's thing. In the High Altitude here in Colorado where it is also very dry I need to watch it begin kneading to make sure there is enough liquid or maybe I need to add flour because it's sloppy and too wet. You want a cohesive ball that rolls around with the pedal that doesn't stick to the walls. I usually do a fast large pinch of the stuff to see how it feels. Eventually it will take on the texture of your ear lobe. A classic test for bread dough. A note on the flour I use- I found all purpose flour gives the pizza dough crust a cardboard taste- not good! Bread Flour contains more protein and makes an amazing crust.

When it's done- oil 2 plastic containers and split your dough into 2 balls and refrigerate it for at least 30 mins to an hour. This is so the dough is easier to push down in the pizza pan and makes a thin crust. If that is not important to you, you can skip this step. It will rise while chilling.

Borrowed this guy's photos! He's got a great blog going so check out his in depth Pizza making with home-made hands -on pizza dough TheHomePizzeria: Recipes-Neapolitan Pizza Dough

While the dough chills oil your pans with olive oil- traditional pizza pans are best. Pull your dough out and oil your hands. Press each dough down into your pan, trying not to tear your dough- I use a push down and out kinda motion and often I will turn the dough over several times so the oil coats both sides.
 When done pushing it into your round, stand back and wait a sec to see if it creeps back towards the middle and then press down again. I find I just let the outside crust be a thicker part is better than doubling the edge over. When done getting it set in the pan- dock it! That's when you put holes in it with either a docking roller or you use a fork. This keeps bubbles at bay. I pre-cook my pizza crust at 400 degrees for 8 minutes, this is to make sure it stays crisp when finished.

Pull out. Put your sauce thinly on- too much makes it soppy! You can use spaghetti sauce (like Prego- I used for years) but, lately I have used Hunts canned tomatoes with onion and green pepper in it. Just take the can and blend it till smooth- it makes an amazing pizza sauce!

Spread lots of mozzarella cheese over. Some gourmet pizza's have fresh slices of mozzarella on it willy-nilly spaced over the top.

Photo borrowed (and there's a great looking recipe here too!) TheGrubDaily-Thin Crust Pizza Dough

Put your ingredients on your pizza. Try and not do too much because it can get soggy if overloaded- a little goes a long way! Veggies are my favorite- sliced mushrooms, thinly sliced green peppers, and red peppers are so sweet on a pizza, olives- sliced, onions (of course).... for some more exotic tastes- artichoke & crab.

                                                               Renoir- Onions

My daughter likes hers naked with just cheese- which is great too.

A great reference for types of cheese on pizza and other pizza know-how-TheHomePizzeria- Pizza toppings & cheese for pizza

Put basil on top if you wish. If it's fresh wait till after you bake (it turns black in the oven). If it is dried- pinch it in your hands, roll it around first between your fingers to revive it a bit and throw it on- go easy though- it's a strong taste.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 - 20 mins. Watch closely- pizza can look almost done and then the cheese can burn within minutes.

                                                                  Blond Pizza

For a Blondie Pizza omit the tomato sauce and put a thin layer of ricotta (whole milk has more taste), then your choice- onions, thinly sliced mushrooms, some cooked spinach- whatever you want. Cover with lots of mozzarella and parmesan. Sprinkle with basil- but go easy on it- it can be strong.

For Spanakopizza check this blog out- Port and Fin: Spanakopizza


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