Monday, August 31, 2015

Pizza!


Our family loves Pizza.  We have it almost weekly, often on Fridays. In Nashville we have quite a lot of really good places to get pizza (Desanos, Five Points, Pizza Perfect, Mellow Mushroom, City House, Mafiaozas, Bella Nashville, and more)!  We like trying different pizza, trying different toppings and styles of Pizza: thin and thick, simple, and gourmet, with egg on top, sauce-less and with major sauce.  
One of the newest pizza shops in Nashville is Blaze Pizza.  It’s a really fun concept.  It's individual pizzas made to order on the spot.  You walk through the line, like at Subway or Chipotle, and tell them what you want on it.  You can choose one of their specialty concoctions or make your own custom pie.  They then stick it in their super-hot ovens and flash bake it. We all gobbled up our pizza and enjoyed it so much. (My only complaint is that if each person gets an entire pizza, it quickly gets expensive). 

This was Lucy's pizza, they "call out your name" when it's
 ready and my sometimes shy girl was
embarrassed at the thought of them calling out
her name?! So my mom suggested she
give them a different name, like Sarah.
Thus this pizza's "Sarah" label.  Crisis averted.






I grabbed a menu so I could get ideas for toppings.

Though I love going out for pizza, making it at home is so simple and much cheaper for a table of 5. We've been trying different dough recipes for years and tweaking our methods.

I have been contemplating writing a post about Pizza for a long while because it is one of our go-to meals.  However, I have felt reluctant to post until I found the perfect crust recipe that is fool-proof, and became an expert pizza-maker. Each time I take photos just in case this is the one! 

I have not become an expert.  However, at this point I feel like I’ve learned enough about homemade pizza, and found a recipe that works well, and made enough of it to write about it... with the disclaimer that you just have to try it and maybe try a few recipes to find the one that suits your taste.  (Much like my post about Chocolate Chip Cookies...it's hard to claim one as the "perfect" one, because what makes one perfect is a matter of personal preference!) RIGHT?

This is a recipe that I have found to be simple and consistent.  The texture and flavor are good and using the honey, bread flour and a long knead really make this a nice dough to work with and taste!

It’s easy and quick to put together. 

Here's a good basic dough recipe:

(makes 2- 12-inch pizza crusts) 
1 cup warm water
2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
1 Tbsp honey
2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. olive or canola oil
2 1/2 cups bread flour

In a large mixing bowl, stir yeast and honey into warm water.  Sit for 5-10 minutes or until bubbles form and mixture starts to foam.  

Pour in salt, oil and half of the flour and mix. If you have a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, this is the time to use it! 

Once that flour is incorporated, start adding in the rest of the flour,  bit by bit until you get the pizza dough to the consistency you want: slightly tacky, but not sticking to your hands (you can add up to 1/2 cup more flour if you need to).  Once you reach this stage, knead for 6 minutes.   Turn the mixer on and walk away for 6 minutes.  The dough should be smooth and easy to work with.  And the bowl should be clean. 

Lightly grease the bowl and the dough so it doesn't dry out, cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place 1-2 hours.  

Preheat oven to really HOT...450 - 500 degrees!

Remove dough from the bowl and divide into 2 balls (sprinkling flour on the dough and your hands to keep it from sticking).  Let dough rest on the counter for a few minutes. 

Sprinkle a little flour (or cornmeal) on the parchment lined baking sheet or stone.

Place stretched out dough on the baking stone/sheets.  Spread to the edge of the pan- making sure it doesn't get too thin and tear.

[My friend Karin sent me this video from her kitchen in Vermont, of her technique for stretching out the dough that was so helpful.  It's always been my frustration in pizza making. I asked her if I could attach it to the post for all to see.  She obliged.]
video

Par-bake the crust for a few minutes (maybe 5) so that the crust is evenly baked under the
toppings, and then pull out.
Then add sauce/toppings.
Bake for 10 minutes or until golden and bubbly.  Remove and let sit for a few minutes before slicing. 

While the dough is rising, you can prep your toppings. 

You can go for cheese and red sauce and be done or you can get creative.  



Sauce: Red Sauce, Olive Oil, Pesto, BBQ sauce

Meat of Choice (if you want): pepperoni, ham, rotisserie chicken, sausage, bacon, prosciutto, meat balls (thinly sliced) 

Cheese: mozzarella, fontina, goat, feta, white cheddar, you name it!

Veggies: don’t limit your thinking on this- thinly sliced squash, peppers, onions, banana peppers, tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, fresh spinach, artichokes, garlic, olives, capers... [Karin also suggested corn for a veggie- it's a Dominican standard. YUM.]

Fruit: not just pineapple! We had an incredible Peach pizza (with no red sauce) at Dave’s birthday dinner last month and another time we had fig on a pizza!

Finishing touches: a drizzle of balsamic reduction, or pesto,  or sauce; or shredded fresh basil, thinly sliced spinach, or sprinkle of arugula



Pizza Making Tips:
  • You can keep your yeast and bread flour in the freezer, if you don't use them often.  They will last much longer that way.   
  • If you want to make the dough to use later, place in freezer bag, removing all air from the bag before freezing.  You can freeze or refrigerate.  If frozen, remove and let sit out to get to room temperature and double in size, 6-8 hours.
  • Parchment paper is a great help when making pizza.  It makes for easy clean up and transferring pizza off of the sheet.



If you have no time to make dough (or no interest) you can make our favorite quick pizza. Simply pile great toppings on a Flour Tortilla and putting it on the skillet until its melty and golden.  Or if you are making more than a couple of them, you can put them on a baking sheet in the oven to cook multiple pizzas at the same time.  They are really yummy. Thin crust and delicious! You can make them crispy or chewy, depending on how hot and how long you cook them.

I would love to hear any ideas/tips/recipes/favorite toppings people have so that we can make it even better!  Grazie!

[Thanks to Karin for reading this post and giving me her ideas and tips.  We are better together, people]


4 comments:

  1. I love making homemade pizza! This post was so fun!

    And sidenote: I JUST googled your chocolate chip cookies and typed "best chocolate chip cookies". I guess that lets you know what I think they should be called. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Jennifer! I do love those cookies. And homemade pizza- any tricks and tips since you are a lover of homemade pizza?

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  2. Julie, you need to check out 312 Pizza in Germantown if you haven't been there yet. Amazing Chicago-style pizza!

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  3. Oh, I haven't been! We need to try it. Do you have a recommendation of what to order? What's your favorite Nashville Pizza, Leigh?

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