Dinner, kid friendly

It’s Not Delivery, It’s Homemade!

It’s now an unspoken rule, according to my husband, that we eat pizza on Fridays. While he was deployed I really slacked on cooking so the pizza delivery person quickly became a well known figure in our household. My kids recognize the pizza commercials, jingles and when there are strange cars driving into our couldesack the kids would yell “PIZZA DOUGH!” aka “PIZZA!!”. When my husband came back and heard them yell that at the window, he raised an eyebrow. What can I say, we love pizza and it was just easier to order than wrestle with 4 kids in the kitchen.

I had always made our pizza, involved the kids with putting on their own toppins sometimes because it’s delicious and WAY cheaper to make. Our kids are big eaters and between the two of them, can easily finish a medium pizza. With three eating it was worse and I had to throw in some veggies to fill them up but now with all four eating? fuggedaboudit! I’ve made these ahead of time and frozen for quick meals (which I need to do again and will make a post on it) but still like to make it with fresh dough. I’ve tried a few recipes over the years, tried techniques to roll it out and different methods of cooking but  I still prefer this way. This is how we make pizza in our family, the recipes I use and tricks I’ve learned.

The dough

I used to use this recipe for dough and it is still delicious. You can start it a couple of hours before baking and it has a soft, delicious taste to it. When it’s mentioned honey is key, it really is along with the olive oil. The combo gives it a nice buttery taste. This would be fantastic for garlic parmesan bites, a dough for bubble up pizza or other pizza dough recipes. I prefer a crispy, chewy crust pizza so I use a recipe with bread flour and Bobby Flay’s recipe is a favorite here but you can certainly use the recipe from here to make pizza. When I do make Bobby’s recipe I sub 1tbsp honey for the sugar though because of first pizza dough I tried, honey makes a big difference. For tonight’s dinner I’m using Alton Brown’s recipe but replacing beer for water. I’ve come to love the flavor of beer in the crust. This dough is excellent because of the overnight rise, the gluten forms and makes for a very workable dough. You can stretch it easily without it tearing much unlike the other doughs. I made a double batch and started it last night. I have a kitchen scale but forgot to start measuring so next time I make this, I’ll edit it.

Adapted from Alton Brown’s recipeMakes 4 medium  or 2 large 14″ pizzas

Ingredients

  • 4 cup bread flour
  • 12 oz light beer or water, heated until warm to touch (I used Keystone)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon sugar (preferable to use honey)
  • 2 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • olive oil to coat the bowl

Directions

Place all of the dry ingredients into your mixer, use the paddle attachment to mix everything together. Add in beer and olive oil. Start the mixer on low and mix until the dough just comes together, forming a ball. Attach the dough hook to the mixer and knead for 15 minutes on medium speed

At this point the dough will be very sticky, it will look different from other pizza doughs! Oil your fingers, tear off a small piece of dough and stretch the dough until thin. Hold it up to the light. You should be able to see light through the dough without the it tearing, it’s called the bakers windowpane.

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Not my picture but this is what the baker’s windowpane looks like

 

If the dough tears, knead the dough for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.

Place dough into a large bowl coated with olive oil, toss dough to coat and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight for 18 to 24 hours.

 

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The dough after sitting overnight in the fridge

 

Place the pizza stone or an upside down, heavy bottomed cookie sheet on the middle rack of your oven. Turn the oven to  500 degrees F, 1 hour before baking. Split the pizza dough into 4 equal portions or 2 parts.  Flatten into a disk onto the countertop and then fold the dough into a ball by tucking the sides underneath itself.

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Wet hands barely with water and rub them onto the countertop to dampen the surface. Roll the dough on the surface until it tightens. I tried Alton’s method and it’s MUCH easier to sprinkle lightly with flour and shape the balls. Cover one ball with a towel and rest for 30 minutes

If not baking the remaining pizza immediately, spray the inside of a ziptop bag with cooking spray and place the dough ball into the bag. Refrigerate for up to 6 days.

I’ve tried a few different techniques to form the pizza do the right shape but the easiest way I’ve found is using a rolling pin. Flatten the dough, about 1lb for a large pizza, into a disk. Sprinkle with flour and roll out into a 10 inch circle, then flour the back your hands and pick up the dough,. Let gravity help with the stretching by going around in a circle, let the opposite side of the dough hang down a bit and move the dough around using your knuckles for movement. Stretch out the dough into a 12″ circle (I couldn’t get pictures of this because I was in a hurry and alone).

If you can’t get it on your first try that’s fine, a misshapen pizza is still a delicious pizza. I’m one for being OCD when it comes to baking so I try to get it in a perfect circle.

I don’t worry about having that much of a lip on the dough because it will puff up once the toppings are on. If you don’t have a rolling pin, like I didn’t tonight because it has magically disappeared, you can just stretch the dough by hand. Flatten the dough and press your fingers into the middle, stretching it out by pushing from the inside out. This will make it easier to get a lip on the dough. Still flour the back of your hands and stretch the dough out slowly, . It will take some practice to get it right but eventually you’ll get the feel and learn how to work it.

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Pizza peel

If you have one, sprinkle cornmeal onto the pizza peel. Very gently transfer the dough onto the peel and continue to stretch out the dough to the size of your stone. Make sure to add enough cornmeal to ensure the pizza slides so go ahead and shake the pizza a bit to make sure it moves without sticking. Working quickly add sauce, sprinkle with cheese and toppings then slide pizza onto the stone. If you get some overhang that’s fine, it should puff right up since it’s hot but if it’s hanging over too much, try to push some back onto the stone.

Parchment paper method

If you don’t have a pizza peel, get a large piece of parchment paper and a large surface to transfer the pizza on. Place the parchment onto the large surface then transfer the shaped on the paper, no cornmeal needed. Stretch out the dough, while still maintaing the lip, until you reach the size of your stone. The one I have is almost 14 inches so I stretch it out to that.  Add sauce, a sprinkle of parmesan, toppings and very carefully slide it onto the cooking surface by dragging it from the corner of the paper.

 

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Parchment paper with oiled crust

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Alton Brown note:

Dress and bake the pizza immediately for a crisp crust or rest the dough for 30 minutes if you want a chewy texture.

*Before you put the dough onto the stone you can brush some oil around the crust, before putting the sauce. This the chance to flavor your crust if you want.

Bake the pizza until the crust is golden brown or the cheese is bubbling. If you’re not using a stone and are using a cookie sheet, lift the bottom of the pizza and make sure the bottom is browned. This will take anywhere from 7-10 minutes depending on your oven. Mine tends to cook faster from the bottom and less at the top (the oven in our rental is crappy).

 

You can place it under the broiler, under close supervision, if you want more color on top. Let the pizza rest then slice and enjoy!

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The sauce

I’ve made different kinds but for today’s post I tried this sauce. Some sauces I’ve made have liquid pooled on top of the cheese, which means there’s too much water in the sauce so this time I made sure I simmered for a long time.

Using 1/3c measurement, makes enough for 4 pizzas

  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, grated on microplane grater (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and split in half
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Directions

Process tomatoes and their juice through food mill, pulse in food processor until pureed, or puree with hand blender. Puree should not be completely smooth, but should have no chunks larger than 1/16 of an inch. Set tomatoes aside.

Combine butter and oil in medium saucepan and heat over medium-low heat until butter is melted. Add garlic, oregano, pepper flakes, and large pinch salt and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, basil, onion halves, and sugar. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to lowest setting (bubbles should barely be breaking the surface), and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced by 1/2, about 1 hour. Discard onions. Season to taste with salt. Allow to cool and store in covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

 

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The kids ate the whole large pizza and after 3 slices, Dan finished off our pizza. Overall, doubling Alton Brown’s recipe was perfect for 2 large pizzas. This is the preferred dough for a beginner IMO because of how stretchy it is and the ease of the recipe.

 

 

 

 

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