Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Pizza Pizza…

I love pizza! I began making them as a kid and am working to perfect the crust. I started out with the help of Ragu pizza crust mix; it was so easy, just add oil and water and poof, you had a decent pizza crust. Those were the good old days when my family was easily pleased. Once Ragu stopped making the mix, I moved onto buying ready-made crust from an Italian bakery. That came to a halt when I moved and did not have access to an Italian bakery. Then I began a quest to find a recipe that would make a tasty crust. After much experimentation, the recipe below is the one that tasted the best thus far.
What I changed from the original recipe: decreased the amount of salt (the original had 1 teaspoon of salt); decreased the amount of sugar (the original had 1 tablespoon). The more oil you add to the dough, the flakier the crust.

(Makes one 14-16" pizza crust or 3-4 individual pizza crusts for grilled pizza)
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon salt (I go with 3/4 b/c 1 teaspoon is too much)
  • 1-2 teaspoons of sugar (I've stopped measuring. it was 1 tablespoon in the original recipe, but I've found you can use less)
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 packet of rapid rise yeast
  1. Mix all of the dry ingredients (flour, salt, sugar). Add oil and mix. Add water (a little at time) to form soft dough.
  2. Place dough in oiled bowl and put a small amount of oil on the dough to prevent it from drying out. Cover bowl and place in warm place (usually I put in the oven) and leave alone for at least one hour or more. ( If you're pressed for time, you can bake in as little as one hour or wait longer if you have time.)
  3. For grilled pizzas: Divide into four equal parts. On a baking sheet, add some cornmeal and pat out dough into thin round discs. Grill one side for ~2 minutes (watch the dough to ensure it does not burn) and take off grill. Add sauce and toppings to grilled side and return to grill the other side until done. If you want the cheese browned, place under broiler. Cool for a minute or two and enjoy!
  4. For oven made pizza: Pat out into a circle onto lightly oiled pizza stone (or lightly oiled pan) and bake without any toppings at 400F for a pizza stone and at 375F for about 10 minutes. Pull out of the oven and then top with your favorite sauce (recipes included) and toppings and cheese. Put back into the oven to finish baking. Pizza is done when bottom is golden. Optional, turn on broiler for a few minutes to brown cheese. Let cool for 5 minutes before enjoying the results.
  • Prep for the yeast varies on the type you buy. The rapid rise does not require you to “soak” the yeast; you can add it directly to the flour. Check the yeast.
  • Almost any type of oil can be used. The taste changes slightly based on the oil.
  • You can use wheat flour, however, this makes the crust more dense. Check out this recipe for a wheat crust: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/25/health/nutrition/25recipehealth.html
  • Extra ingredients can be added for additional flavor. Add any of the following to the mix in the first step: ground flax seed, rosemary, garlic, black pepper.
  • Sprinkle cornmeal on the pizza stone or pizza pan to give the crust an extra crunch.
  • You can use 1 packet of yeast for doubling the recipe; it works just as well.

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