Food Friday: Pizza Margherita

Any good pizza begins with good dough. I am not talking some store bought mass produced item. I am talking about hand made goodness from flour.


I have been making my own pizza dough for a few years now. I started making it about the same time I discovered you could bake your own bread. 

Dough Ingredients: 
  • 1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoon)
  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, divided, plus more for dusting
  • 3/4 cup warm water, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
First we need to proof the yeast. Why do we proof yeast? What even is "proofing" yeast? Yeast is a living organism. Dry yeast is in a dormant state. When we proof yeast we are making sure it hasn't died and bringing it back to an active state. Yeast eats sugars and produces carbon dioxide. Warm water activates the dry yeast and we give it a form of sugar to start eating.

In a mixing bowl add the packet of yeast, 1/4 cup of warm water, and a tablespoon of flower. Mix it all together and then put it aside. After about five minutes check back to make sure your little yeasty beasties are alive and working. The mixture which was a flat tan color should look like someone has poured some cream into it. I tried to capture it in the picture below. You'll hopefully know it when you see it.


Add about 1 1/4 cups of flour, a half cup of warm water, the salt and oil. Stir everything in together. Then keep adding in more flour, it might take up to 1/2 a cup of additional flour. You want to keep mixing in the added flour bit by bit until the dough ball can be pulled away from the side of the bowl. It will still be a bit sticky to the touch.


Now is the part where you put your expensive mixer with a dough hook to use.  Oh wait, the only mixer I have is my hands. Pick your work surface something nice and flat. I've recently started spreading some wax paper on the work surface to make cleanup easier.  The paper slides around a bit but it is manageable.  Spread some flour about the surface. The flour will keep the dough from sticking as you knead it. That flour will get incorporated into the dough as you knead so you will need to keep putting flour on the surface. Also flour your hands so your hands won't stick to the dough. If the dough does start to stick to either your hands or the work surface, add more flour to them. Pizza dough needs to be very elastic so you have to knead it for a long time. I use a simple process to knead.  I pull out a piece of dough, then fold it over and push it in to the rest of the dough using the heel of my hand.  I move about 90 degrees on the dough ball and repeat.  I do this for eight minutes. I even set the timer for it.

At this point I have tried  different approaches to get a thin crust. The result for either way have basically been the same. No thin crust for me. I have taken the dough covered it in a mixing bowl and let it sit aside for an hour to rise.





Or you can just go straight to the rolling out phase.  I don't do the whole toss the pizza in the air thing. I roll it out to generally be the shape and size of my pizza pan.  I oil up the bottom of the pizza pan and then put the dough in it. I use my fingers to push out the dough till it fits the pan. I like to build up a little edge on the outside for a bit of crust to hang onto. 
Now we make the sauce. Actually I had already made the sauce. It can be made earlier and stored.  This makes enough sauce for two pizzas. I us half and usually freeze the leftover since I don't like to let it sit in the fridge for more than a few days.

  • 1 Can of diced tomatoes.  I thought these were 16 oz but they are actually only 14.5.  I actually prefer to use the canned tomatoes instead of the bad greenhouse tomatoes you can get from the grocery store. Obviously the best would come from tomatoes grown locally.  
  • 12 oz tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • Italian seasoning to taste( oregano, basil, thyme) I use a lot.  probably about 3 tablespoons

I dumped everything into a food processor and ran it until I had a nice paste. 



Pizza Margherita is just pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil.  I got the basil from my balcony garden. I spread the sauce over the dough. I then place some basil leaves.  You should really use fresh mozzarella cut into slices and placed over the top. I didn't have that so I just used a bag of shredded mozzarella.


Some final basil on the top and we are ready for the oven.


I preheated the oven to 425 F and cooked the pizza for 15 minutes.


Much nom noms

Comments

Popular Posts