Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pizza makes the world go 'round

Q. How do you fix a broken pizza?
A. With tomato paste

I love cheesy jokes -- they encourage raucous laughter and always amuse the teller. Life is meant to be enjoyed with friends and family, as is food, and one of the best foods to share with a group of loved ones is PIZZA.

I know you're tempted to lick the screen, but please don't; your coworkers will think you've gone insane and the only taste you will have in your mouth is of static and dust. But don't worry, I will gladly share my recipes with you and get you on your way to making amazingly satisfying pizza-pie.


Have you ever had a pizza with the most amazing sauce and carefully selected toppings but completely uninspired, tough and dry dough? I have. It ruins the whole experience! I made this recipe and have kept it a secret -- dear to my heart -- and I think it may be time to share it. The secret ingredient is not love, it's beer.

In some of my pastry recipes I will use the metric system because it is much more precise, but this dough is very forgiving and I don't want you all to have to break out the scales.

1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup warm beer of choice (lighter beers make lighter, fluffier dough and dark beers make dense sweeter dough. Both are quite tasty.)
2 oz dry active yeast
1 tbsp honey
1tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
3 1/2 cups bread flour (Bread flour is more glutenous than all purpose flour and will give the dough more structure. Very important!)

Combine water and beer into a bowl and add the yeast, half of the olive oil (the other half will be used to oil the mixing bowl later) and honey. Let sit for about five minutes, until the yeast is fizzy and rises to the top. Combine the salt and flour in a large bowl. Slowly add the liquid to the dry ingredients and form a vague ball-like shape. It will seem dry (very much so) at first -- we bakers refer to this as the "shaggy mass" stage. Leave the dough on the counter and invert your mixing bowl over the dough for about 10 minutes. When you return to it, it will less resemble a muppet and feel more like food.

 Now knead your dough until it feels like it may start to tear -- this is just gluten development and is, as stated above, VERY IMPORTANT! Oil your large mixing bowl with the remaining olive oil and place your dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm place until the dough doubles in size and feels pliable.Your dough should look like this:

Now pull the dough from the bowl and gently deflate and reform a ball. It's called punching the dough, but you don't need to be so violent. What did the dough ever do to you?

Place the dough back in the oiled bowl and re-cover for a second rising. Again, you want it to double in size.

Wow! your dough is done! You will want to portion your dough and give it a last gentle kneading and shaping -- this recipe can make two small to medium sized pizzas.

At this point you have two options: you can fling your dough by hand like a champ, or you can roll it out. either way works.

Thank you for reading my dough tutorial. Enjoy the recipe and check back later this week for home-made pizza sauce.

Some photos courtesy of:

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