Saturday, July 16, 2011

Pizza 102

Pizza is the great American (thanks Italy) Approximately 3 billion pizzas are sold in the U.S. each year. But who's counting the pizzas we make at home? From way back in kidhood, I remember pizza-making at home as a fun thing to do. So it is with that in mind I took just a little more effort to come up with one that uses a crust I think you'll like too.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 4-ounce packet of dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup warm (not quite boiling) water
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. oregano
1 Tbsp. chopped basil
Pinch of salt

Combine the water, honey, olive oil and dry yeast in a bowl, stir to blend well and let rest for at least 5 minutes.

In a separate bowl, blend the flour, cheese, herbs and salt. Gradually add the dry mixture into the liquid, about a quarter-cup at a time, until it gradually makes a nice ball. Add a little flour as necessary, and with floured hands, knead the dough mixture for a few minutes to work out air bubbles and thoroughly combine the ingredients.

Add about 1 Tbsp. olive oil to a bowl to coat all sides and roll the dough ball around. Cover with wrap and allow to rise for at least an hour, until about doubled in size, in a warm place.

Preheat oven to 425F. Spread some corn meal over a pizza pan. Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and punch and knead it flat. Place into the pizza pan and turn up the edges a little to keep the toppings from spilling out.

Toppings are a matter of choice but the national favorite seems to be pepperoni (Americans consume more than 250 tons of it every year), followed closely by sausage, onions, mushrooms and peppers. And cheese of course, especially mozarela. I use extra garlic too. The sauce is also a matter of choice. The simplest is to spoon out your favorite pasta sauce. Plain tomato sauce also works well, from which you can add fresh herbs. Spread the sauce over the flattened dough, sprinkle on the other toppings, adding the cheese (I used both mozarela and parmesan) last. Place on the lowest rack of your oven Bake about 12-18 minutes. Baking time will vary, depending on ovens (electric takes longer) and the amount of topping. The best guide to done-ness is when the edges of the crust are brown and the cheese topping is starting to bubble and turn brown.