Monday, April 07, 2008

Baking Frenzy: Pizza

This weekend, I made two more loaves of that fantastic Cinnamon Raisin Bread: one for my parents, and one for Karl. It really is an incredible bread!

In addition, I treated my parents to a hot meal Saturday night, the day of the week that dinner in their house consists of leftovers or hot dogs. So, I decided to make them pizza. And since I'm on a baking kick, nothing but a home-made pizza crust would do!

I found a simple recipe on Food Network's website. I didn't use a food processor to make the dough as the recipe mandates: why make an extra mess? I also ignored the fancy-schmancy toppings it suggested. I am in the throes of spring right now, and I'm so excited that I can get some yummy fresh vegetables! I wanted to take advantage of that, so I picked up some crimini mushrooms, baby spinach, a red bell pepper (on sale at Giant Eagle for $1.99/lb! Are you kidding me?), fresh basil, and some tomatoes. So exciting.

I was lazy and bought pizza sauce, though. My sauces never seem to turn out right: always a little bitter. I'll have to see what I can do for next time.

The pizzas turned out great! The crust was soft on the inside and chewy/crisp on the outside. I made two, one with the mushrooms, spinach and bell pepper, and one with tomato & basil (the bomb!). Topped with lots of shredded mozzarella, they were a delight that cannot be gotten from delivery pizza.

A sure sign of success: my dad complimented me, despite the lack of greasy pepperoni or sausage.

Pizza Dough

¼ cup warm water (about 110˚F)
1 envelope active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
4 cups bread flour
½ tsp salt
1 ¼ cups cold water
1 TBSP olive oil
Yellow cornmeal, for sprinkling the baking sheet

In a small bowl, mix warm water, yeast, and sugar. Stir with a whisk or a fork to combine. In a large bowl, stir flour and salt with a wire whisk. Add the yeast mixture, cold water, and oil. Mix with a firm spatula or wooden spoon until a ball is formed. Be careful not to overwork the dough. Scrape dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead for several minutes until dough is smooth. Allow dough to rest for 2 to 3 minutes, then place dough in oiled bowl. Cover with a towel, and allow to rise at room temperature for about 1 hour.

Punch dough down, then let rise another 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 500˚F.

Take dough out of bowl. Divide into 2 even balls. On a lightly floured surface, form two 10 to 14-inch pizza crusts. Place the crusts on pizza stones dusted with cornmeal. Place toppings on the crusts, then place the pizzas in the oven. They can be done separately if you only have one pizza stone. Bake until golden and cheese (if used) is bubbly, about 10 minutes.


Jeremy LaBuff said...

Throw a little sugar into your sauce and it will be delish. I just made some the other day by cooking down diced tomatoes with garlic, adding tomato paste, then seasoning with whatever was around (plus the sugar). I also made the best pesto around (shall I call it Besto?)!

Carly said...

Yes, you definitely should call it Besto. And send me the recipe to test! My basil plant is taunting me with its vigor and I want to make some pesto!

And I will try the sugar! I didn't think of that...