One weekend we decided to try to make pizza dough. Over the years, I have collected about a zillion recipes for dough, and never tried it. What better way to kick off the weekend than with homemade pizza? You can make this dough the night before and keep it in the fridge. We actually made the dough on a Friday night (while watching a rerun of the “Real Housewives of Atlanta” and pondering why Phaedra wears such ridiculous eye shadow) and put it in the fridge for the next day.

As you readers may have guessed, my health-conscious husband was complaining about my starch addiction, and how he was just trying to save my soul. To make him stop with the nonsense and crazy talk (carbs are better than crack, I say), I made whole-wheat dough for him. Seriously, if I could have made a protein pizza dough with extra protein on top, he would have loved it. Ugh.

DOUGH:

  • 1 cup warm water (not hot! – 105° to 115°F)
  • 1 ½ tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup white wheat flour
  • 3 tbsp vital wheat gluten
  • 1 ½ tsp coarse kosher salt
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

One note about vital wheat gluten. I was thinking “huh?”, just like you probably are. The deal is that gluten makes bread chewy, that’s why gluten-free bread has the texture of a rock. We bought some from our local health-food store. Only use this if you’re also using whole wheat. And remember: the more you knead dough, the more gluten is produced. So if you over-knead it, the crust can become too chewy.

  1. Whisk 1 cup of warm water and yeast in small bowl. Let stand until yeast dissolves, about 5 minutes.
  2. Using on/off, mix both flours, wheat gluten and coarse salt in processor.
  3. Whisk 2 tablespoons oil in yeast mixture.
  4. With machine running, gradually add yeast mixture through feed tube of processor.
  5. Process until dough forms a ball, adding more warm water by teaspoonfuls if dry
  6. Transfer dough to floured work surface. Knead until dough comes together.  (Note: In NYC, where owning a Kitchen Aid mixer is a dream, you can also hand-knead all of this without a mixer. It’s totally fine. Get that knuckle strength up).
  7. Brush large bowl with 1 tablespoon oil.
  8. Place dough in bowl, turn to coat.
  9. Cover bowl with kitchen towel.
  10. Let rise in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in size, 1 ½ to 2 hours.
  11. Punch down dough. Divide in half and form 2 balls.

If chilled overnight, let stand 1 hour at room temperature before rolling.

SAUCE:

We did a classic tomato sauce, with basil and fresh mozzarella, which was delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 5 leaves of basil, chopped
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp oregano

We pulsed the tomatoes in a food processor, and threw them in with some sautéed garlic, basil and the salt. We let it boil down, for about an hour, until it reduced and become a little thicker. We seasoned to taste with sugar and oregano.

So “season to taste” is a very random thing. How do you know that it’s right? Well, do you like it? Is it savory enough? I always find that sugar and salt add a tremendous amount to the flavor of a sauce.  It’s totally your judgement call. We had a pizza at Eataly, with no cheese (imagine!) and the sauce was so good, I could have eaten 20 more just like it. To me, the sauce makes the pizza, truly.

TOPPINGS:

 

 

For toppings, we sautéed some spinach, caramelized some onions (fancy word for just sautéing until the sugar becomes more pronounced), cut up fresh mushrooms, and put out some fresh basil. We used fresh mozzarella, which you can get from your local cheesemonger. Unlike other cheeses, it is usually sold stored in a little brine, so keeping it in its original packaging  until it’s ready to use is important.

Gruyère is a great melting cheese, so you can try making a pizza topped with spinach, Gruyère and mushroom. Other ideas are caramelized onions, goat cheese and rosemary (figs or fig jam is great added to this also), or roasted veggies and feta.

We assembled the pizzas by rolling them out on a floured surface. The crusts puff up a little, so remember that when you’re thinking about the thickness of the dough. We assembled the pizza on the table and just slid it off onto the baking sheet (you might want to try this since picking up soft, rolled-out dough that is loaded down with toppings is no easy feat).

We don’t have a pizza stone. And I’m guessing most of you probably don’t either. So we heated the oven to 450° and put the pan in  for a few minutes until hot, took it out and rubbed the pan with olive oil before we put the dough on it.

The pizza was so delicious, and we were so proud of ourselves. Even my husband, Mr. Healthy, ate about two mini pizzas. Definitely a hit for a girl’s dinner and trashy movies or for lunch with some friends.

~Dana

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