Better than Any Homemade Pizza

Posted by hsimpsongrossman on February 2, 2014

“Step aside please Mam, we need to go through the content of this yellow suitcase.”  Most people let such sentences, coming from a security screener at an airport, go in one ear and out the other.  After all, that’s what security in airports is all about.  They follow policies, procedures and checklists, and unless one has something to hide, one shouldn’t take such requests personally.

But to those of us who fear authority figures, such a sentence can cause a mental breakdown.

The Culprit
The Culprit

“What do you have in this bag?”
“Mainly cooking equipment and food.”
“What else?”
“Cloths? books? hair products? Let me think..”
“I am talking about all these nylon bags here, heavily wrapped, filled with white substance!” she interrupts me.
“I don’t know what you are talking about!?”
She looked me straight in the eye, and just when I was about to start crying, I got it, and started laughing uncontrollably, which, in denture, caused her get even more tense.
“Ahh! No worries! That’s my frozen Challah and Pizza dough!”
“Mam, this can’t be true.  I bake Challah bread every Friday and I have never heard of the possibility to freeze Challah dough.”
“Aha! I was skeptical too and spoke to the woman whose Challah recipe I follow.  Just like you, she has never tried freezing Challah dough, but agreed with me that there is no reason why it shouldn’t work. I am taking a risk here, but hey, no pain no gain (El Nino, this one is for you)!

Bagged and Tagged
Bagged and Tagged

A metamorphosis came over her right there in front of my eyes.  The look in her eyes transformed from a Code Red Alert look to an “I must get this recipe” determined (and just as serious) look.  “Did you freeze the dough before proofing it, or after”.  “Oh! Funny that you should ask! I gave this issue a lot of thought and opted for freezing the dough prior to letting it proof”. And so on and so forth…

You can just picture the irritated looks on the faces of the other passengers singled out for a special security check standing behind me.  I do hope none of them missed their flight.

The frozen dough made its way safely to France, thank God and thank you for asking.  It was still frozen when we got to our apartment and went straight back into the freezer (to one of the six balconies which served as additional freezer space, to be more precise).

My other freezer
My other freezer

But alas, I’m not giving you the Challah bread recipe today.  I know, I know, to the innocent invisible reader it must have been clear that’s where the story is leading to.  Well, this is the one (and only?) prerogative my status as the writer gives me.  To choose what to write about and when.

As impressive as the Challah loafs came out, one of the most memorable meals during that ski week was the pizza and Snow Cream night we had.  I brought with me six balls of the wonderful, fool-proof Smitten Kitchen Lazy Pizza dough, which I have been making every two weeks since Deb first posted it in her blog (“why not every week?” you must be wondering. Well, I make 4 or 5 times the amount every second week and freeze half of it.  That’s our standard Tuesday supper).

Ooey Gooey
Ooey Gooey

I transferred the frozen dough to the fridge the evening before and left it on the counter of a very warm kitchen for 3-4 hours prior to the scheduled supper time for a nice, slow proofing.  Some of the dough turned into garlic bread, mainly for the sake of Stubborn Mule, who doesn’t eat neither cheese nor tomato sauce (and was devoured by many others, nonetheless).

Deb gives three options of dough, each differing from the other in both proofing times and the amount of yeast required: Overnight Dough (proofs for about 22 hours), All-Day Dough (proofs for about 12 hours) and Part-Day Dough (proofs for about 6 hours).  I stick to the All Day one, for no specific reason.  I substitute whole wheat flour for half the amount of flour required and always multiply the recipe by four or five (which gives us about four or five 12*14 (28*36 centimeters) rectangle pizzas).

This dough is very soft.  Per Deb’s suggestion, I don’t roll it out, but rather stretch it into the baking tin, with my fingers smeared well with olive oil (Deb suggests floured fingers and dough, I find that olive oil works better for me), until it fills up the tin.

I am writing down the recipe for the All-Day Dough. For instructions for the two other dough options (and for beautiful step by step pictures), please look at the original recipe.

Credit for Pizza pictures goes to Jack and for the the one of the suitcases with part of His Royal Highness visible to Better Half.  The rest are Yours Truly’s. 

With Coffee
With Coffee

Better than Any Homemade Pizza on the Spot: Mix dough ingredients. Let stand for a 12 hours. Mix tomato sauce ingredients. spread olive oil, sauce on Pizza dough. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Voilà!

Best Ever Homemade Pizza

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Lazy Pizza Dough recipe

Ingredients, for 2 9×13-inch roughly rectangular, or 2 12-inch roundish, pizzas:

For the Dough:

3 cups (13 ounces/375 grams) (up to half of it can be whole wheat flour)
Slightly heaped 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons sea or kosher salt
1 1/4 cup water, plus an additional tablespoon or two if needed

For Tomato Sauce and Cheese Topping
1 12-ounce (340 grams) can crushed tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
Red pepper flakes or hot paprika, to taste
½ teaspoon of sugar (optional, depending on the degree of sweetness of the tomatoes)
8 ounces shredded dry (not in water) mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
5 tablespoons of olive oil
A few leaves of fresh basil, torn or sliced (or a teaspoon of dried basil and/or oregano)

For Garlic Bread:

3 tablespoons of olive oil
5 crushed garlic cloves
1 teaspoon of mince/flaked garlic

Method:

In a very large bowl, mix all ingredients with a wooden spoon. The dough will be craggy and rough.  You can add another tablespoon or two of water if it feels too rough.

Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel (or saran wrap) and keep at room temperature for approximately 12 hours, or until the dough has more than doubled. This takes less in a very warm one and longer in a chilly room (where you might want to put the bowl near the stove, electrical kettle or other utilities which might provide their surroundings with additional warmth).

Lazy Pizza Dough Taking it's Time
Lazy Pizza Dough Taking it’s Time

About half an hour before the dough should be ready, grease a baking tin with olive oil or line it with parchment paper, and sprinkle greased/lined tin with cornmeal or semolina.  Or, prepare pizza stone and paddle, if using, sprinkling it with cornmeal/semolina.  Heat oven to its highest temperature, usually between 500 and 550 degrees Fahrenheit (240- 250 Celsius). If you’re using a pizza stone, place it in the oven so that it heats too.

Flour your working space generously. Scrape dough out of bowl onto floured working space.  The dough should change from a craggy rough matter to a very loose, soft, and sticky dough.

Massage the top of the dough with olive oil, and divide dough in half (or more pieces, if you’re making smaller pizzas or multiplied the recipe). Form them into ball-like shapes. Grab a dough ball with hands well greased with olive oil and let the loose, soft dough stretch and fall away from your hands a few times before putting the dough on your prepared baking sheet/paddle. Use oiled fingers to press and stress the dough into a roughly round or rectangular shape.

Towards the end of the proofing time, prepare the tomato sauce:

Mix crushed tomatoes, garlic, red pepper flakes and sugar.

Smear each pizza dough sheet with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Spread about 1/3-1/2 the amount of tomato sauce (depending on how saucy you like your pizza) on each Pizza sheet, sprinkle shredded Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses and toss some torn fresh basil leafs (or dried basil/oregano).  Left over sauce can be kept in the fridge, covered, for up to five days, or frozen for about a month (longer, when deep-freezing).

For Garlic Bread:

Smear each pizza dough sheet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle crushed fresh garlic and granulated garlic and massage oil and garlic gently into the dough.

Drizzle each assembled pizza/garlic bread with an additional drizzle of olive oil and bake it for 10 to 15 minutes, rotating once in the middle, for even baking, until the top bubbles and the crust is nice and golden.

Cutting Edge
Cutting Edge

Cut the pizza into squares or wedges.

It goes without saying that you can add toppings of your choice (sliced mushrooms, chopped onions, chopped fresh tomatoes, tuna chunks, crumbled feta cheese,  anchovies and whatever else you might think of).

Pizza dough can be kept in the fridge for up to three days and frozen for a few weeks.

None for Me?
None for Me?

 

Filed under Savory Baking

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8 thoughts on “Better than Any Homemade Pizza

  1. Chnan, I must admit that this is the best Pizza I had in the last I don’t know how many years, not to mention the delicious Garlic Bread… Although little Benya refused to let us come near the baking dish, I still have the taste of it… thanx!!
    So, when did you say you are making another round?

    • You must try this one! and play with the whole wheat amounts. Can’t wait to see/hear which toppings you’ll add!
      XOXO

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