Ding dang, you guys. I have been so busy at work. You remember, a couple of weeks ago, when I told you that I was going to be selling cupcakes at work soon? Well, that soon is Friday. But before that can happen, we basically have to transform the retail shop into a bakery, and hire someone to work in it. So, we’ve got our hands full.
Luckily, I had the foresight on Monday (my day off) to realize that, since I was going to be crazy busy this week, I needed to take care of myself while I could. So I spent the day doing as little work-related stuff as possible. And I did something I rarely do: I made pizza.
Don’t get me wrong, I love pizza. A little too much actually, and that’s the problem. Jason and I can polish off a pizza between the two of us in about twenty minutes. So in our house, pizza is a sometimes-treat. And while it’s not hard to make, it is a little time-intensive. We often don’t have the time to start dinner a couple of hours before we eat. But it was the perfect project for a day off.
Oh, and just so you know, I’m going to tell you how to make this dough in an electric stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. If you don’t have these things, just knead with your hands instead. No big thing.
The pizza dough recipe I use (always) is from Vegan with a Vengeance, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. I always start exactly like her recipe does, but I get all crazy about half way through, and really do it my own way. The following recipe is for how I do things.
To make this Pizza Dough, you’re gonna need:
1 cup warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 (1/4-ounce) package dry yeast (not rapid-rise!)
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for greasing the rising bowl
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
Now, you’re going to:
1. Proof your yeast: Measure your water into a glass measuring cup, and stir in the sugar. Now add the whole packet of yeast on top of the water/sugar mixture, and stir lightly until the yeast is just wet. Place the measuring cup in a warm place for about ten minutes (see the notes at the bottom). When you come back to check it, if it’s all covered with crazy, foamy, yeasty-smelling goop, it’s . . . ALIVE! Which is a good thing.
2. Place your flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixture, and stir to combine. Pour in the proofed yeast mixture and olive oil. Use a wooden spoon to stir everything together. It will pretty quickly become unstirrably thick. Now it’s time to knead.
3. Fit your mixer with a dough hook, and follow your manufacturer’s instructions as to how to use it. You probably d0n’t want to turn your mixer up higher than the lowest setting. Anyway, beat the dough for between six and eight minutes, stopping to scrape the excess flour into the mix often in the first couple of minutes. You will know your dough is ready when it feels cohesive, stretchy, and just slightly sticky to the touch. If, after a couple of minutes, it is feeling really wet, you can add a tablespoon or so of extra flour. If it’s too dry, you can add a little water, maybe a teaspoon or so.
4. So when your dough is finished kneading, take it out of the bowl and throw it from one hand to the other about ten times. It should now be in a ball (that’s Jason’s trick. Isn’t it awesome?). Place that ball in a well-oiled bowl (not the one from your mixer) and cover it loosely with a damp dish towel. Place it in a warm spot, and let it rise until doubled, an hour or so.
5. Here’s everyone’s favorite part: With your fist, punch your dough firmly once to deflate it. Now turn the dough out onto a clean surface and stretch and knead it with your hands for a minute or two. This won’t be serious work, you’re just getting it back to the texture it was before it rose. Once you’ve achieved that, place it back in the bowl, covered, back in a warm place.
6. At this point, the dough is totally forgiving. I would recommend letting it sit at least an hour, but you could probably use it sooner, if you had to. The best flavor, in my opinion, comes from letting it sit for three or four hours.
7. When you’re ready to use it, Preheat your oven to 500°F. Place a pizza stone in the oven right when you turn it on.
8. Now, cut the dough in half, and take one half and stretch it and flatten it until it’s vaguely disc-shaped. Then, start to stretch it. An easy way to do this is to hold the disc with both hands and let the dough hang down until it seems like it’s about to rip. Then move your hands a little to the left, and let the dough hang again. Keep at it until the whole deal is roughly the size/shape you want it.
8. Now, lay your dough out on a sheet of parchment paper on top of a large, flat cutting board. Further position it into the shape you want. Now, spray the edge all around with non-stick cooking spray. Then, build your pizza however you see fit. See below for our suggestions. When it’s all ready, open the oven and slide the parchment off the cutting board right onto the pizza stone. Bake your pizza at 500°F for 10-15 minutes, until the crust is thick and golden brown. Yum.
OK, so let’s talk about all of this. First, I use parchment instead of cornmeal for a couple of reasons. Mainly it’s because I don’t really like the texture of cornmeal on the bottom of a pizza crust. Also, no matter how much cornmeal I have ever used, I can never get the unbaked pizza to slide off the cutting board. And parchment is really handy when removing the pizza from the oven. You just grab a corner and go.
Another thing is, I have heard that it is somehow possible to make homemade pizza dough totally round and beautiful and not all rustic-looking. I don’t believe it for a second. I have made this recipe a lot, and it is not possible for me to get an evenly round crust. I like that though. Especially on the browned parchment, I feel like it looks like the peasant food it is. Like, all Martha or whatever.
Oh, and one last thing. Our house is cold unless it’s hot. That is, it is hardly ever warm or cool, so it’s hard for us to find a warm place for yeast to proof and dough to rise. So here’s what I suggest. Turn your oven on to 350°F and immediately set a timer for two minutes. As soon as your timer goes off, turn off the oven. Then put your yeast mixture or your kneaded dough in the oven and let it rest for your rising time.
So we made two different pizzas. The first one was direct from Vegan with a Vengeance, and it’s called the Isa Pizza. We’ve made this one a lot, and we love it. It has pizza sauce, tofu ricotta, pesto, kalamata olives, and mushrooms. Dang that pizza is good.
The second one we made we called the Omnivore’s Dilemma, since it’s covered in a bunch of fake meat and cheese. It has pizza sauce, sun-dried tomatoes, onions, spinach, mushrooms, thick-sliced garlic, tofu ricotta, Gardein chicken, Daiya mozzarella. Oh my god, you guys. This pizza was all melty, garlicky, meaty, and awesome.
So, if you have a few hours, I would highly recommend making some homemade pizza. And if you want leftovers, don’t invite us!