Pizza Redux {pizza}

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but pizza – especially pizza dough – has hired a publicist and is making the rounds (I wasted no time getting to that pun). It’s everywhere right now. On TV, magazine covers, my mouth. I wouldn’t say we’re bordering on overexposure a la Kardashians, but we may be approaching another pizza renaissance for the home cook as evidenced by last month’s cover of Bon Appetit and my lovely scribbled notes from a recent episode of America’s Test Kitchen.

So, I know I’ve already done a pizza post, but I think that last night’s strides in pizza-makery merit another entry for you all. I want you to be able to come along on this journey with me as we grow together both in our love of pizza and our attempts and making a stronger relationship between flour, water, yeast and one another. (I think I just wrote wedding vows for me and a pizza).

Here are some things that haven’t changed since the last time: I still have what I can only refer to as a shitty oven. It refuses to heat up past 450°F even after last week’s heating element explosion and subsequent replacement. To boot, yesterday, during the preheating phase, the oven light actually seemed to detonate. I took care to make sure that there was no glass actually ON the pizza stone so as to mitigate its ingestion and a potential lawsuit by the husband. Beyond that, I really switched things up.

This is another one of those recipes that you need to prepare for 24 hours in advance. Rather than using warm water to activate your yeast and letting the dough rise on a warm spot on the counter, this recipe calls for ice-cold water and a minimum of 24 hours in the fridge but up to 3 days works too. I gave it about 36 hours. There is a logical scientific explanation for all of this (because it is straight out of an ATK episode) and you can find it here. The last thing you need to be prepared for is a weight measurement for your flour rather than cups and whatnot. If you don’t have a kitchen scale (and I think they’re really valuable to have), go grab one. I have this one and it has served me well (thanks, Donna!).

Now, let’s get cracking. Here’s what you’ll need for the dough – and believe me, this recipe is all about the dough:

  • 16.5 ounces bread flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant/rapid rise yeast
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups ice-cold water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Rather than a stand mixer and a dough hook, which used to be my shortcut to kneading everything by hand, you’re actually going to use a food processor (with the metal blade, not the dough blade) to make this dough. It’s a shortcut’s shortcut. It’s amazing. Measure out your flour, sugar and yeast and dump into the food processor. Give it a whir for a good 10 seconds to get everything distributed. Now, get your ice water ready. In order to accomplish this, I had a large measuring cup of ice water set aside and right before I was going to use it, I measured out 1 1/3 cups (strain the ice) into another Pyrex. Turn the Cuisinart on and slowly pour the water in through the top until your dough comes together – only about 10 seconds.

Let your dough sit for 10 minutes and then add the oil and salt and process again for another minute until the dough begins to pull away from the sides. Lube up your counter top with some more oil and dump out the dough. Form into a ball and then place in a well-oiled bowl. Cover with Saran wrap and put in the fridge for the next 1-3 days.

This recipe is even easier than the other. Besides a dough that comes together in no time, with little effort, the sauce is a no-cook sauce. Really, the only thing working hard is the food processor and he doesn’t mind.

For you sauceketeers out there:

  • 2 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes, drained
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar (I know, weird, right?!)

Put all of those things in your processor and go.

About an hour before you want to bake your pizza, make the sauce and stick it in the fridge so the flavors can get all flavory. And while you’re at it, pull your dough out of the fridge and form into two balls on a greased up sheet pan. Cover with oily Saran wrap and let it rest so it becomes more tender and easy to stretch.

Oh, and go ahead and preheat your oven to at least 500°F (if you’re lucky enough to get there) and put the pizza stone on a rack about 4-5″ from the top of the oven. Be sure to scan your oven for shards of broken glass (without setting your oven mitt on fire this time).

Toppings time. I decided to do bacon and green olive and straight up pepperoni. I ate half of the bacon before it was time to make the pizza though. So be sure to double whatever it is you think you’ll want on the pizza so you won’t have to deny yourself a little bacon fuel throughout the process.

The time has come, the Walrus said, To talk of many things: of pizza peels and parmesan, of cabbages and kings. Flour your counter and get busy with the dough. Rather than use a rolling pin, try to gently stretch the dough out from the center in order to form about a 12″ round.

Once you’ve stretched and tugged, throw some cornmeal or semolina flour on your peel and transfer the dough before you begin building. Add about 1/2 cup of sauce and then your toppings and start getting excited.

After about 12-15 minutes, you should have this. And if you’ve never tried a bacon and green olive pizza, you must. Talk about salty tasty goodness…

Because I try to keep from eating an entire pizza myself, I decided to make my new favorite salad too: baby spinach, red onion, strawberries, blue cheese, pistachios and vinaigrette.

I was really pleased with how this turned out. The crust was super tender and chewy and flavorful. By far the best pizza dough I’ve ever made. I loved the sauce too. I really like the flavor of fresh tomatoes (I usually put them on top of my pizza) and this was a way to keep the pizza tasting really bright and fresh. And don’t leave out the red wine vinegar either. I was skeptical but it’s worth it. It punches things up and almost adds a bit of spice because of the tanginess.

The only thing I would really do different is to make three pizzas from this amount of dough rather than two. The pizza almost didn’t fit on the stone and I think we could have gone just a smidge thinner, crust-wise. Go forth and make this and enjoy. And tell me what you think.

Til death do us part, pizza. Til death do us part.

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