Thursday, September 22, 2011

Just Knead It!!!

Let's make pizza dough!

Song Pairing:
Beat It by Michael Jackson
This song is perfect for two - no, maybe more like three - reasons!  E-man, who is four years old, is here for a visit and it's one of his favorite songs to dance to.  I find this super adorable because it was also one of his daddy's favorite songs to dance to when he was also four years old.  He was the world's youngest self-proclaimed expert on break dancing.  In addition to these two great reasons, I suggest we take a tip from Weird Al Yankovich and substitute the words "Knead it" for, of course, "Beat it."  Whether you're kneading by hand or machine just use this song as a timer!  Get your dough assembled, press play, and "Knead iiiiiiit!!!  Knead iiiiiiiit!!!"  When the song is done, you should be, too!  Oh - and don't forget to dance a little while you're doing it.  Just don't break dance.  According to E-man's daddy, "Beat It isn't break dancing!" 

Autumn is knocking on our door and has me thinking about cranking up the oven for pizzas again.  And when I say crank it up, I mean wayyy up!  To 500 degrees!

Pizzas are one of the best foods to make when you've got company.  It is a meal and an activity all rolled into one.  You can have personal pizzas for each guest or assign each guest a sector of the community pizza.  Set out the topping choices and then let the fun begin as each one custom designs their pie.

I have extra special company this week.  My son and his family came to visit us and my oldest grandson, E-man, was super excited to make his own pizza tonight!  This is pretty much how the evening went ~

I made some pizza dough - it didn't take long -

After leaving it alone for about 30 minutes it did this -

It's a very happy dough!

We divided it up and I gave E-man his own hunk of dough.  We shaped it onto a baking stone like this -

Time for toppings!

I provided shredded mozzarella, black olives, pineapple tidbits, canadian bacon, pepperoni, and fresh sliced mushrooms.  I found it very interesting that, of all those choices, he went for this one first!

It's documented!  Being a mushroom lover myself, I'm rather proud that he shares this appreciation with me!

It was fast and furious work and soon his masterpiece was ready for that fiery furnace - aka, my 500 degree oven!  I still needed to complete mine though.  As I said, I'm an avid mushroom fan and had plans for lots of mushrooms and black olives and not much else!
Hey!  Wait a minute!  Where did all of that pineapple and canadian bacon come from?!  Well, let's look back a frame or two and see if we can figure it out -
Aha!  One of those hands is a little smaller than the other, don't you think?  Seems as though I got some help!  Of course, Grandma let it stay just the way it was!  And enjoyed every bite!

And this is what happens when you turn your back to put them in the oven -

Cheese?  What cheese?

About ten minutes later -

Yes, he's drumming his fingers!  Grandma - he wants to eat!  Put away the camera!

And that's how you make pizza disappear!

I guess I'm not the only one who's been thinking about pizza lately.  Go here and find my friend's recipe for a Jamaican Jerk Chicken pizza topping.

And here's how to make super easy pizza dough, ready to use in 30 minutes or later that day - or even later in the year!

Pizza Dough adapted from a recipe by Emeril Lagasse
Printable Recipe Card
2 1/4 t. dry yeast
1 c. very warm water
1 t. sugar
2 1/2 - 3 c. bread flour (350 g)
1 1/2 t. kosher salt
1 1/2 - 2 T. extra virgin olive oil

In a large mixer bowl, add water and sugar and give a quick stir to distribute the sugar.  Sprinkle the yeast over the surface and give another quick stir to mix it in.  Let sit a few minutes while you measure out your flour and salt.  This will give the sugar and yeast time to visit and see if they're going to hit it off.  If, after a few minutes, you see the yeast happily popping to the surface of the water, you know it's all good and can continue.  If nothing is happening, maybe give it a few more minutes.  If it's STILL quiet in the bowl, I'd just assume that your yeast isn't going to work for you and start over - with new yeast, of course!  I keep my yeast in the freezer and have never had trouble.  Some people keep theirs in the fridge.

Assuming your yeast is happy and compliant, add the flour and salt and stir, if doing by hand, or mix on medium speed, if using a stand mixer and dough hook.  Add the extra virgin olive oil and stir or mix until the dough comes together.  At this point you can turn it out and begin to knead (with music, don't forget!) on a lightly floured surface or continue to knead with a dough hook on your mixer for about 4 - 5 minutes.  The dough should feel similar to play dough.

Using olive oil, coat a clean bowl that's a little more than twice the size of your ball of dough with some olive oil and place your dough in, giving it a turn to coat the top with the olive oil.  Cover with plastic wrap that's been sprayed with cooking spray so the dough doesn't stick.  Find a warm and quiet place where it won't be disturbed and let it rise for about 30 minutes or until double.

When a recipe tells you to "punch down" dough, I think too many people take this to heart.  I know I sure used to!  But my baking teacher instructed us that you don't need to be violent!  Simply prepare your surface with a light dusting of flour, invert the bowl, and let the dough plop out.  It will deflate on it's own - peacefully.  Divide into required portions if making individual pizzas or keep as a whole.  This recipe makes enough for one 14" pizza.

I like to use baking stones but you can also use a cookie sheet if you prefer.  Lightly coat with cooking spray and dust with cornmeal.  Roll or gently work the dough into your desired shape and top as desired.  Bake for 8 - 10 minutes - until cheese starts to turn golden.  Let cool about 5 minutes and enjoy!

If you like, make the dough early in the day, place in the oiled bowl, cover and store in your fridge.  The cool temp will retard the rising action and your dough will be ready that evening!

To make several batches for future use you can either make the dough to the rising stage and freeze in balls or let rise, shape into pizza rounds, place on sprayed parchment lined sheet trays, cover and freeze.  When frozen solid, remove from sheet trays and wrap each round tightly in plastic wrap.  When ready to use, simply pull from freezer in the morning and let thaw in refrigerator on cooking sheet to be ready for dinner.

1 comment:

  1. I am going to try this with whole wheat flour (of course). I know what you mean about Fall and pizza. I feel a craving for something chewy and crispy and cheesy.