Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pizza Crust (and pizza!)

Martín and I have been buying a bunch of prepizzas lately...and since making your own crust isn't that difficult, I figured it was time to give it a go. However the stores I went to didn't have the dry yeast I'm used to...one of the women gave me a 101 on the wet stuff, and I was ready to experiment, when we discovered all her packs had expired--yesterday! I would have bargained, but she wanted to sell me the flour with yeast already added. This doesn't appear to be the same self-rising flour they sell in the US--it contains yeast, not baking powder. So, I went to adapt the recipe, but found the recipe is so simple, it's really more a matter of adjusting for texture.

Really Simple Pizza Dough (Smitten Kitchen)

Makes enough for one small, thin crust pizza. Double it if you like your pizza thick and bready.

1 1/2 cups flour (can replace up to half of this with whole wheat flour)
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water (may need up to 1 or 2 tablespoons more)
1 tablespoon olive oil

Stir dry ingredients, including yeast, in a large bowl. Add water and olive oil, stirring mixture into as close to a ball as you can. Dump all clumps and floury bits onto a lightly floured surface and knead everything into a homogeneous ball.

If you are finding this step difficult, one of the best tricks I picked up from my bread-making class is to simply pause. Leave the dough in a lightly-floured spot, put the empty bowl upside-down on top of it and come back in 2 to 5 minutes, at which point you will find the dough a lot more lovable.

Knead it for just a minute or two. Lightly oil the bowl (a spritz of cooking spray perfectly does the trick) where you had mixed it — one-bowl recipe! — dump the dough in, turn it over so all sides are coated, cover it in plastic wrap and leave it undisturbed for an hour or two, until it has doubled in size.

Dump it back on the floured counter (yup, I leave mine messy), and gently press the air out of the dough with the palm of your hands. Fold the piece into an approximate ball shape, and let it sit under that plastic wrap for 20 more minutes.

Sprinkle a pizza stone or baking sheet with cornmeal and preheat your oven to its top temperature. Roll out the pizza, toss on whatever topping and seasonings you like. (I always err on the side of skimpy with toppings so to not weight down the dough too much, or if I have multiple toppings, to keep them very thinly sliced.)

Bake it for about 10 minutes until it’s lightly blistered and impossible to resist.

So...the crust turned out well. The flavor seems a bit off, and I'm not sure why...like it's missing a bit of tang or something. However, it was super cheap and definitely edible! Maybe my pan is a bit smaller, or I made a bit more dough (measuring is a difficult task here!), but I think doubling the dough would be fairly disasterous, and it wasn't super thin as it was...my final learning experience, the oven was slightly higher than the lowest setting, next time it needs to be hotter. I was just nervous after previous pizza burning experiences.

Smitten Kitchen also has a stepped up dough I can't wait to try! As you can see, I topped this with queso cremoso and something random I had in the fridge. I think I prefer a queso cremoso/mozzarella blend, but wasn't up for going to the store. I also used thinly sliced zapallitos and a squeeze of lemon. Fabulous!

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