Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Homemade Pizza

I LOVE homemade pizza!! When it's done right, it is so much better than what I can get at my local pizzeria.  Now yes, it does take some planning ahead.  You can't just decide you want pizza 30 minutes before dinnertime.  BUT it is so worth the forethought!  And I like that I don't have to worry about the quality of the ingredients or if it's been contaminated by allergens that would cause my Big Boy big problems. 

When I first made this dough, I used all bread flour.  It was great, but I wanted to make the dough a little healthier.  So this time around I used half bread flour and half whole wheat flour.  The texture was just as good, if not better; and I liked the flavor better with the whole wheat flour.  Next time I will try to make a dough with all whole wheat flour or, ideally, try to find a whole wheat bread flour.

I also like to simmer chopped spinach into my pizza sauce.  My Big Boy likes spinach on his pizza but my Little Boy isn't too keen on eating big strands of spinach, so this is a nice happy middle ground.

1 3/4 c. Water
1/4 c. Olive Oil
1 1/4 tsp. Instant (Bread Machine or Fast Rising) Yeast
2 1/2 c. Bread Flour, as needed
2 c. Whole Wheat Flour
1 1/2 tsp. Salt
1 lb Mozzarella, shredded
2 c. Marinara Sauce

Combine water, oil, and yeast in the work bowl of a stand mixer.  Attach the bowl to the mixer and affix the paddle attachment.  With the machine on low speed, add 1 cup of the flour and salt.  Gradually add enough of the flour to make a stiff, sticky dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl.  Switch to the dough hook.  Knead on medium-low speed, adding more flour if necessary until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead briefly.

Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces and form each into a ball.  Coat each ball with oil and place each into its own plastic freezer bag.  The dough can be frozen, each ball in its own plastic freezer bag, for up to 3 months.  At this time, divide the cheese and marinara sauce into 4 individual bags and place in the freezer with the dough.  Then you know you will have the basic ingredients for pizza whenever you need a quick and easy meal.

(If you want to bake the pizza the same day, let the covered dough stand at room temperature until the balls double in size, about 1 1/2 hours, and skip the next step.)

At least 5 hours before baking, remove the dough, cheese and sauce from the freezer.  Pour a few tablespoons of oil in a baking dish.  One at a time, coat each ball in fresh oil and place in the baking dish, smooth side up.  Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until doubled in size.  (I like to put mine in the oven with the oven light on.  It creates just the right environment to defrost the dough and help the yeast rise.)  Meanwhile, let the cheese and sauce defrost at room temperature.

At least 30 minutes before you are ready to bake the pizza, place a pizza stone on the lowest rack of your oven, and heat the oven to 475 F.

About 20 minutes before baking, drop each ball onto a lightly floured work surface, and press on the dough to deflate it.  Shape into a ball again, return to the dish cover, and let stand at room temperature to relax for 20 minutes.

You are now ready to make pizza!!

On a lightly floured surface, flatten the ball of dough into a disk and roll it as thin as you like.  Transfer the dough to a cornmeal-dusted paddle.  If it loses it's shape, just reshape it on the paddle. 

With a  fork, poke holes in the crust to help prevent large bubbles.  Top as desired then slide onto the pizza stone in the oven.  Bake 8-10 minutes until the crust is golden brown and slightly blistered. 

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