>> Wednesday, January 20, 2010
If you ask me what my favorite food is, I won't try to lie. It's pizza. Plain and simple. (Well, I do very much like plain pizza -- but the kind we make at home is usually piled high with veggies because we don't have to spend $1.50 per topping.) However, until this year, I never liked to make my own at home. It was one of those things (like bagels, which I eventually successfully made myself), I thought I just couldn't replicate with the same taste and texture, specifically with the crust.
We often bought pre-made dough at Wegmans or other grocery stores to try out. The wheat kind was usually too dry. The white was, well, blah. And even when we did choose one we liked . . . we were baking it entirely wrong. The middle was always be soggy and the sides always burned. Ick.
We eventually put a couple local pizza joints on speed dial.
I kept at it, though. Experimenting with multiple recipes and methods -- until one day, I discovered something that actually worked. And now I can share it with YOU! (If you're wondering, the answer is yes. This pizza is what I was talking about yesterday with my Weekends Off -- No More post. It's not terribly unhealthy. We just made it TWICE this past weekend.)
Ashley's AMAZING Pizza Dough
What you'll need . . . (to make two 14-ish inch pizzas)
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast (I use Fleischmann's)
- 1-1/2 cups WARM water (not hot, wrist temperature)
- 2 cups unbleached bread flour
- 1-1/4 cups whole wheat bread flour
- 1/4 cup flaxmeal
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Pinch of Kosher salt
Method . . .
Step 1: In a small bowl, whisk together the yeast and water until well incorporated. Let sit for 5 minutes (until frothy, like in the photo below).
Step 2: In a very large bowl, whisk together the flours and flaxmeal. In the center of the mixture, make an imprint with your fist that's almost like a little bowl of its own (you'll be putting the yeast in here).
Step 3: Pour the yeast, the olive oil, and the pinch of salt into the impression you made with your fist. Then with a rubber spatula, start mixing everything together.
Step 4: You'll find after a while that you'll want to start mixing/kneading with your hands. If the dough is very sticky, add in a bit more whole wheat bread flour. Continue kneading for a few more minutes until dough ball is smooth and elastic.
Step 5: Transfer dough ball to a lightly oiled bowl (first place the ball inside the bowl, then flip over to get both sides lightly oiled). Cover with a piece of plastic wrap, cut an X in the top, and let rise for about 2 hours. I've had success only waiting for 1-1/2 hours, so if you're pressed for time, you should be fine.
Step 6: Punch down dough and cut into two pieces (above is when I made two batches). On a lightly floured work surface, use your hands to work dough into your flat pizza crust. We often refrigerate the 2nd of the two rounds the recipe yields and use it for another pizza later on in the weekend or garlic knots (recipe coming soon!)
GRILLING: The hands-down BEST way to cook your pizza is on the grill. Really. Even in these cold temps, if you can do it -- start up your grill (I'm talking charcoal, I've not tried this on a gas) . . . and follow these steps (you'll need a charcoal grill, pizza/bread peel, and large round pan) . . .
- Heat up the grill -- it should be very hot, with charcoal displaying white ash, etc.
- On a floured surface, roll out the dough as thinly as possible. Make it super, super flat and then transfer to a floured pizza peel.
- Transfer dough to the grill. Really! It won't make a horrible, burned mess. Just put it on there . . . and cook until you see the bottom start to brown, but not burn. This takes approximately three minutes. Oh, and you don't need to close the grill for this part. You will later, though. Just let it breathe!
- NOTE: You will notice the pizza puffing up with tons of bubbles. Pop these bubbles gently with a fork.
- Slide the half-done pizza onto the peel again . . . and flip it, uncooked side DOWN, onto a floured work surface.
- Drizzle the top (the DONE part) with olive oil.
- Add all your toppings at this point (to the DONE side). Don't go crazy -- because the heavier the pizza is, the harder it is to transfer back onto the grill. And a little goes a long way . . .
- Put the pizza on the peel again and transfer back onto the grill. Immediately cover with your grill top (this will help cook all the toppings).
- Again, wait about three minutes, or just keep obsessively checking like I did to make sure the bottom isn't burning.
- When it DOES start to burn, your pizza most likely won't be entirely cooked. This is where the pizza pan comes in. Slide your almost-done pizza onto the pan (that goes directly on the grill) to finish the cooking process. It is still possible for the pizza to burn while on the pan, so keep a close watch. The total cooking time varies depending on how thick your crust is. Keep checking it -- and it should be done, on average, around 5 to 8 minutes.
- What you'll find is that you want to take the pizza off JUST before you think it's done. It might still be even the slightest bit doughy, but that's OK -- that's how it's supposed to be.
OVEN: For those nights when you don't feel like grilling out (or if you don't have a charcoal grill), this cooking method will work out great.
- Invest in a pizza stone.
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.
- Make sure you let the pizza stone preheat as well. Roll out your pizza dough to the size of your stone.
- When the oven is finished preheating, use a pizza peel to transfer the dough onto the stone. Cook until the bottom is lightly browned (you'll want to pop any air bubbles that form, so pay attention.
- Then take out, flip over so the cooked side is the one you place your toppings onto . . . do your topping thing . . . and use the peel to transfer the whole thing back into the over for another 15 minutes or so. Until cheese and lightly browned and bubbly.