Recipes

P.I.Z.Z.A.

Building and baking your own pizza at home, from scratch, is a lot of fun, especially when everyone gets involved. The recipes here were gleaned from American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza by Peter Reinhart. Enjoy!

The Dough
5 cups unbleached bread flour
1 1/4 tsp. of active dry yeast or 1 tsp. of instant yeast
2 tbs. olive oil
1 3/4 cups water (room temperature)
1 tbs. honey
2 tsp. salt
Makes 4 - 10 oz. balls

This dough recipe makes a thin, crispy crust with small air pockets. First dissolve the yeast with a little of the room temperature water, then add all the other ingredients, mixing them well for about 4-5 minutes. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes, then come back and mix for 3-4 more minutes. If it's too sticky, add more flour, too dry, add more water. The "wetter" the mix, the crispier the crust. Divide the dough into 4 separate pieces, shape them into balls (cloaking), rub with olive oil, and place them in individual ziplock bags. After letting them "rest" for 15 minutes inside the bags, refrigerate until the next day, or place any balls you do not plan on using immediately into the freezer. If you're going to use them the same day, turn that 15 minutes rest into one hour, then take them out of the bag, punch it down, reshape into a ball, put it back in the bag, and refrigerate for 2 hours. Take whatever you intend to use out of the fridge 2 hours before use, and allow to reach room temperature. Shape and stretch into roughly a thin 9"-10" circle, or whatever shape you can manage. I have found it easier to build the pizza on top of a 12" x 12" piece of parchment paper, on top of a pizza peel, once the dough has been shaped and stretched. I keep an old 1" thick kiln shelf in my oven, on the middle shelf, and preheat the oven at it's highest heat setting for about an hour before sliding the pizza (on the paper) directly on top of it. Baking time in our oven is approximately 7-8 minutes. When the cheese is bubbly, and the bottom of the crust has browned somewhat, it's done!

(addendum) When I first posted this recipe on another web site I owned, I used the parchment paper method, which made it much easier to flip the dough onto a preheated grill, which deserves another post all to itself. More often than not, I take the dough ball from the bag, flip it over a couple of times in my tub of bread flour, dust my hands with flour, spread a little flour on the pizza peel, shape the dough and slide it off the peel into the oven. After it bakes for a couple of minutes I slide the peel under the pie, remove it from the oven top it, then return it and bake until done. It sounds more complicated than it really is, but twice-baked crust rocks.

The sauce
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried basil or 1 tablespoons minced fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano or 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano leaves
1 tablespoon granulated garlic powder or 5 cloves fresh garlic, minced or pressed
About 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon juice, or a combination, to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
Makes 4 cups

Mix together all the ingredients and let stand several hours to let flavors blend. No cooking is necessary. I measure out the (dried) herbs and grind them all together in a mortar and pestle prior to adding them to the sauce. Store in an airtight container for up to a week, or freeze for several months.