Everyone loves to eat pizza. I am amazed at the number of pizza parlors here in America and how much Americans spend for pizza dinners and meals. Almost everyone has their own favorite pizza but the problem with commercially prepared pizza is that they are loaded with lots of fats that you do not need, such as oils that they use to grease the pans and guess what, more oils to make the crust crispy.
Do you ever wonder why the parchment paper or pizza box gets so greasy? If the grease gets to the box, how much oil do you think is actually in the pizza?
Solution? Make your own pizza.
I worked at an Italian fine dining restaurant before where pizza is made using an Italian stone lined oven and the crust is unbelievably good. So the first rule is to make sure that your oven gets really really hot! If you can raise the oven temperature to 600 F, the better. If not, since most household ovens only have up to 500 F maximum oven heat, then make sure you use a pizza stone or never bake two pizzas at the same time because this will lower the oven temperature.
The second rule is to have a nice, flavorful crust. How do you do this? You need only 4 basic ingredients, namely;
flour, preferably bread flour or all purpose flour if you want the dough to be crispy. Note that bread flour will make a chewier crust.
salt, water and yeast. Oil is also added or in some cases, shortening can be used as well. For those who love the Italian style, use olive oil.
Recipe: Makes 4 medium sized pizzas
bread flour 500 grams
water 275-300 grams
shortening or oil 10 grams
MIX ALL INGREDIENTS TOGETHER, IF YOU ARE USING ACTIVE DRY YEAST, BLOOM OR DISSOLVE IT FIRST IN LUKEWARM WATER AND THEN ADD TO THE MIX. IF YOU HAVE A STAND MIXER, USE YOUR DOUGH HOOK AND MIX UNTIL THE GLUTEN IS DEVELOPED OR ONCE THE DOUGH BECOMES SMOOTH AND ELASTIC.
THE AMOUNT OF WATER IS VARIABLE, MEANING YOU MAY USE MORE OR LESS THAN THE WATER INDICATED IN THE RECIPE BECAUSE WATER ABSORPTION DEPENDS ON THE KIND OF FLOUR YOU ARE USING. GENERALLY, ALL PURPOSE FLOUR WILL USE LESS WATER THAN BREAD FLOUR SINCE BREAD FLOURS HAVE MORE PROTEIN CONTENT THAN ALL PURPOSE FLOUR.
THE IMPORTANT THING IS THAT THE DOUGH SHOLD BE PLIABLE, SMOOTH AND MANAGEABLE, NOT TOO STICKY AND STIFF AT THE SAME TIME. YOU WILL KNOW THAT YOU HAVE USED VERY LITTLE WATER WHEN THE DOUGH IS TOO HARD TO ROLL. I WOULD RATHER ERR ON THE SIDE OF STICKINESS, SINCE I CAN ALWAYS ADD EXTRA FLOUR (PREFERABLY LOW GLUTEN FLOUR) IF THE DOUGH STICKS ON THE TABLE OR IF IT IS TOO HARD TO HANDLE.
NOW ONCE THE DOUGH IS FULLY MIXED, ROUND THE DOUGH INTO A BALL AND THEN PLACE IN A LARGE BOWL, COVER AND RELAX. NO NEED TO USE OIL IN THE BOWL, YOU CAN USE A RUBBER SCRAPER FOR THIS. LET THE DOUGH REST FOR AT LEAST 3 HOURS, THE FLAVOR WILL DEVELOP AS WELL AS THE GLUTEN MELLOWING DURING THE PROCESS.
WHILE RESTING THE DOUGH, MAKE YOUR FILLINGS. IN MY BAKING CLASS, I LET THE STUDENTS DECIDE WHAT TOPPINGS THEY LIKE. THIS IS THE BEST PART BEFORE THE EATING ASPECT COMES ALONG. YOU CAN HAVE PEOPLE LIKE ME HAVE THEIR OWN PIZZAS AND USE VEGETARIAN TOPPINGS SUCH AS MUSHROOMS, STEAMED BROCCOLI AND CAULIFLOWER, BLANCHED SPINACH, BELL PEPPERS (MY FAVORITE) ETC., THE MEAT LOVERS SHOULD HAVE THEIR OWN CORNER IN THE TABLE, YOU CAN HAVE PEPPERONI AND HAM, SPAM AND SAUSAGES WHICH YOU NEED TO SLICE THINLY BEFOREHAND.
THE SAUCE IS EQUALLY IMPORTANT. MY TRICK IS TO USE LEFTOVER SPAGHETTI SAUCES (I ALWAYS SAVE SOME FREEZING SOMEWHERE), ADD A CAN OF TOMATO SAUCE, SAUTE GARLIC AND ONIONS AND COOK THE WHOLE THING WITH A PINCH OF OREGANO AND A TINY BIT OF SUGAR AND IT IS DONE. THAT IS THE QUICKEST PIZZA SAUCE EVER. BELIEVE ME, IT IS SO GOOD.
OKAY, SO NOW YOU ARE READY. PREHEAT YOUR OVEN TO A HIGH 500 F. GREASE BAKING PANS AND SPRINKLE WITH CORNMEAL. ROUND PERFORATED PIZZA PANS ARE VERY GOOD BECAUSE THE BOTTOM CRUST DOES NOT BECOME SOGGY AND CENTER DOES NOT BECOME UNDERCOOK.
PUNCH THE DOUGH DOWN AND DIVIDE INTO 4 PIECES. ROUND EACH DOUGH AND DIP IN FLOUR, DREDGE THE WORK BOARD WITH FLOUR AND START ROLLING EACH PIECE, BEGINNING WITH DOUGH 1 DOWN TO 4.
COVER AND RELAX FOR 5 MINUTES, THEN RETURN TO THE DOUGH AND KEEP ROLLING UNTIL YOU GET THE RIGHT THICKNESS YOU LIKE. IF YOU WANT THE CRISPY THIN CRUST THEN ROLL THEM ALL THIN, AS THIN AS POSSIBLE, TURNING THE DOUGH EVERY NOW AND THEN TO MAKE SURE THE BOTTOM DOES NOT STICK TO THE BOARD. AVOID USING TOO MUCH FLOUR OR THE DOUGH WILL BE TOUGH.
ONCE THE DOUGH IS ROLLED THIN, TRANSFER TO THE PANS, DOCK THE TOP USING A PIZZA DOCKER OR FORK TINES AND START TOPPING THE PIZZA USING THE SAUCE FIRST AND THEN YOUR CHEESE AND THE VEGGIES OR COLD CUTS.
BAKE AT A HIGH 500 F OVEN FOR 10-12 MINUTES OR UNTIL THE PIZZA PUFFS AND GOLDEN BROWN AT THE BOTTOM AND TOP.
SERVE AND ENJOY.
MORE PIZZA AND BAKING TIPS;
YOU CAN RELAX THE DOUGH COVERED INSIDE THE REFRIGERATOR OVERNIGHT. THIS IS WHAT WE DO IN THE RESTAURANT, WE MAKE THE DOUGH BEFORE CHECK OUT TIME, DIVIDE THEM INTO PORTIONS, COVER AND RELAX THEM INSIDE A WALK – IN CHILLER. YES, A WALK IN CHILLER WHERE I ALMOST GOT LOCKED IN! RETARDING THE DOUGH CREATES A MORE FLAVORFUL CRUST.
PUT THE CHEESE BEFORE THE REST OF THE TOPPINGS TO PREVENT SCORCHING.
DOCKING THE DOUGH PREVENTS IT FROM PUFFING TOO MUCH INSIDE THE OVEN.
FREEZE EXTRA DOUGH FOR UP TO 2 DAYS, THAW AT ROOM TEMPERATURE AND THEN ROLL. YEAST CELLS DIE DURING FREEZING SO USE IT IN TWO DAYS OR THE DOUGH WILL NOT BE TOO PUFFY IN THE END.