Sunday, March 14, 2010

the perfect pizza dough

i'm on a quest each week to find the perfect pizza crust. and so far this is the winner. you see... we have "pizza friday" every friday night. yes, when you have little kids it's something to look forward to. sophie *loves* to help me make pizza, all day: "i help make a pizza!" and i love trying to per-fect my pizza crust, and landen? well he just loves eating it. so it's a win-win-win.

i think i'm finally getting the hang of it thanks to this website. the trick to the perfectly crispy-on-the-outside and soft-on-the-inside crust happens to be using a pizza stone. sure you can still use this recipe on a good old cookie sheet (i've done it and it's still yummy), but if you're looking for that perfect restaurant crisp than use the stone! my definition of the perfect crust is one that i'm not overly noticing, it just blends into the yummy sauce and toppings. here we go.

2 cups flour
1 tsp active dry yeast
4 tsp sugar (about 1/8 cup)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp olive oil
3/4 cup warm water

directions: (i usually start the whole process at 3pm to let rise in time for dinner)
in a glass measuring cup filled with the sugar & water (water should feel very warm against wrist but not hot) i let my yeast activate for 5-10 minutes until bubbly on top. then i mix the oil in with a spoon. while yeast is activating i add the dry ingredients together in my mixer for about 15 seconds (flour & salt). while the mixer is running, pour the yeast mixture in slowly and process the dough for about 60 seconds, a dough ball should begin forming. if the dough is sticky, add flour one tablespoon at a time to dry the dough and allow a ball to form. if the dough is dry, add water one tablespoon at a time to moisten the dough. you want the dough slightly sticky and soft. you don't want to overprocess the dough, you just want to combine the ingredients to form a loose ball. the dough will be soft to the touch and there will be a small amount of residual dough left along the bottom and sides of the bowl.

once finished, place the ball on a floured surface and knead by hand for several minutes. (this is how i take my aggression out after a week of dealing with kids). use flour on your hands to prevent sticking. the dough should feel smooth and silky when ready for use. (you might be able to let your mixer do all the work, but i love kneading dough and i like how i do it better.)

shape dough into a ball and place in a bowl coated with olive oil. brush a light coating of oil on the top of the dough ball as well so it doesn't dry out. cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and then with a kitchen towel. i warm my oven up to 300 or so while i'm kneading, and then turn it off and place the bowl on top of the oven so it's nice and warm for rising. the volume should double depending on the warmth of the kitchen but usually takes 45-90 minutes.

after the dough has doubled, punch it down. turn out onto your board and knead it for a minute or two to get rid of any bubbles. let it rest in the bowl for another 45-90 minutes. i know this seems like a lot of rising, but i have noticed my doughs are much softer and easier to form if i do a double rise.

rolling out your dough:
place the dough ball on a lightly floured work surface. using your fingertips push down on the center of the dough applying outward pressure. you want to flatten out the dough ball and increase the diameter, once you have your intial shape, use a rolling pin to continue flattening the dough. roll in one direction, rotate 90 degrees and roll in the same direction. continue until you achieve your desired thickness and dimaeter.

i need a wooden paddle, but for now i just put my rolled out dough on some parchment on the backside of a cookie sheet so i can easily slide it onto my stone. you want to heat your stone for at least 45-60 minutes before you place your pizza on it. heat oven to 450 degrees (i think i change it every time). decorate your pizza and slide onto stone. i remove the parchment after it's cooked for about 5-10 minutes so it won't stick. cook until crust is just turning crispy golden and cheese is bubbly. about 15 minutes i think? just watch it.

easy sauce:
1 can of tomato sauce
mrs. dash "italian medly"

mix in a bowl until it tastes right! super easy and yummy.


Shaunel said...

Kristen, I LOVE pizza. We have some kind of version d3x a month. If you don't have a stone (like me), you can also bake the the crust for 6-ish min, and THEN top it. It's not totally like a stone, but it comes really close, and usually there's never the dough-y middle problem.

Cher said... this is random. The pizza looks delicious, but I really want to know what font you used for the text on the picture? haha...if you wouldn't mind sharing, my scrapbooking endeavors will thank you! :)