January 2009 Archives
I’ve been making my own pizza since 1994. I know the date because I’ve been married since 1994, and for our wedding we received a Zojirushi Breadmaster bread machine and a pizza stone and pizza peel.
Since it came up on Twitter, I thought I’d detail my method below. This is something I’ve fallen into over the years, but feel free to vary it any way you like. That’s the beauty of cooking — you can do whatever you feel is right, whatever you like.
HONEY WHEAT BEER PIZZA DOUGH
(makes two crusts worth)
- 5 cups flour (I use 2 cups of whole wheat and 3 of all-purpose)
- 2 cups beer (this adds a yeasty flavor that I like. I generally use beer I do not want to drink in this recipe! Most beer cans or bottles are generally 12 ounces; use water for the balance, or heck, just use all water if you don’t want to sacrifice a beer)
- 4 tablespoons olive oil (yeah, you can substitute butter or margarine, but this is more Italian)
- 4 tablespoons honey (or sugar or agave or maple syrup — kidding)
- 2 teaspoons salt (optional but recommended)
- 1 package yeast (I use rapid rise)
I make it in the bread machine (you can also do it the old fashioned way, kneading and rising a couple of times), and when it’s done I generally separate the dough into two identically-sized balls. (Put some olive oil on your hands to prevent a sticky mess.) I put a little olive oil in a large zip-top bag and then toss in one of the balls, which lives in the bottom drawer of my fridge for a week or so.) The other one, I leave in the bread machine container until I make it later the same day. The same-day ball is puffy and soft; the next-week ball is thin and crispy. They’re both great.
At some point early in the process, after the dough ball is out of the bread machine, I place my pizza stone on an accessible shelf in our oven and heat it to 500 degrees. The more heat the stone can drink in, the better. Be generous with your pre-heating time. When the oven is pre-heated, the stone is still getting hotter. (Pro tip: when not cooking pizza, leave your stone on the bottom level of your oven. The mass of the stone will help balance out the temperature variation in the oven. Also you can get an unglazed paving tile if you don’t want to get a “real” pizza stone.)
I coat my peel with a thin layer of semolina (I used to use corn meal—don’t do it! Semolina is superior in EVERY way), then pull out the ball until it’s a circle (hand tossing like a stereotypical Italian pizza man optional) and lay it down on the peel. I coat the top of the dough with some olive oil and walk away for a little while, letting the dough rebound from my pulling and prodding. Later I return with pizza sauce (I gave up making it myself and use it from a can, or just use barbecue sauce if it’s BBQ chicken pizza.) Then on goes the cheese, generally a mixture of mozzarella and cheddar, though last night we threw in some jack as well and it was really good. What you top it with is up to you. (We generally use Turkey Pepperoni since my wife doesn’t eat pork, and for BBQ Chicken I just grill a chicken breast and cut it into cubes and toss it on, then use a spoon and drizzle some more barbecue sauce on.)
I pop the pizza in the oven (sliding it off the peel onto the stone is tricky, which is why the semolina on the peel really helps keep it slidy) and if I’m feeling careful I’ll drop the heat to 450. It takes about 12 minutes to cook the pizza in my oven. Once it’s done, I use the peel to pull it back out and let it cool. You don’t want to cut the pizza when the cheese is still molten.
A nice thing to do while it’s cooling is to spray or brush on olive oil on the crust at the edges. The crust absorbs the oil and ends up softer and more edible.
Once the cheese cools and thickens, you know what to do. (I love the Zyliss Pizza Wheel.)
That’s it. I like drinking my pizza with Sierra Nevada Porter. You pick your own favorite.