Last night, Kyle and I had some friends over to make and eat pizzas. Two of these friends are from Cincinnati, and we’ve developed a working theory that people from Cincinnati are very particular about their pizza. This is based on a total of three people, so, like I said, just a working theory. So we’ve had many discussions about pizza and where to get good pizza.
Since we’ve gone to grad school, I’ve been trying to make healthier versions of quick meals that we can put in the freezer and make when we’re being lazy in an attempt to avoid going out to eat or buying pre-made food from the grocery. One of these meals has been frozen pizza. I make the dough, partially bake it, put the toppings on, freeze it, and then we can have pizza for dinner in about 10 minutes. Our friends have been curious about the dough I make, so we planned a pizza night. We made personal pizzas so no one had to compromise on toppings, and it was a great night: friends, pizza, garlic-cheese bread, white chocolate truffle popcorn, bourbon, and hockey. Although the Preds couldn’t pull off the win last night, it was a lot of fun, and our Cincinnati friends gave it their approval for good pizza.
I use one of various recipes from the book, “Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.” They have a particular pizza dough, which I used last night, but I often just use their basic recipe, substituting in about half whole-wheat flour to make it a little healthier. Both make great pizzas.
Pizza Dough recipe (can also be found at http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com)
3-1/4 cups lukewarm water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon yeast
1-1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar
7-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
In a large bowl, with a lid that is not air-tight, put in the yeast, salt, and sugar. Then pour the liquid over these. Finally, put in the flour, and mix with a mixing spoon until just combined. Put on the lid and let rise for 2-3 hours. Once it has risen, you can use it or put it in the fridge for up to two weeks. It will become more of a sourdough the longer it sits, but it’s still good!
To use the dough, first pre-heat the oven to 500 degrees with a pizza stone in it to heat up too. Then sprinkle some flour on a cutting board (or pizza peel) and on top of the dough (so your hands get well-floured too). Pull out about a handful of dough and shape it into a ball. Then flatten it on the cutting board and roll it out with a rolling pin (also dusted with flour). Add more flour as you need to make it less sticky. Once the dough is rolled out, you can put cornmeal or whole-wheat flour underneath so it will slide off onto the pizza stone, but I find it is easier to just put it on parchment paper and let it bake on the parchment paper. Makes for a cleaner process, too. I find you can re-use the parchment paper a couple times too.
If you’re making the pizza to eat right away, you can put on your toppings, and then bake it for about 8 minutes, depending on how thin you rolled out your crust.
If you want to make frozen pizzas, first put the crust in the oven for about 3 minutes; then take it out and let it cool. It may have puffed up some – just pat down the bubbles. (If you want pita bread, leave it in for about 8 minutes and it will puff up all the way and make a pita pocket great for sandwiches!) After it has cooled, put on your toppings, stick it in the freezer on a plate or tray for an hour or two until it is fairly hard, and then wrap it up in saran-wrap and/or foil and put it back in the freezer for whenever you want it. Since it is already partially baked, when you take it out of the freezer, you only have to bake it 8-10 minutes in a 450-500 degree oven.
If you’d like to make a bit healthier dough, here is what I use to add whole-wheat:
Basic Bread Dough (can also be found at http://www.splendidtable.org with the only alteration in adding the wheat flour)
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
3 cups whole wheat flour
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 cups lukewarm water
Mix it up in the same way as above, putting in the yeast and salt, then water, and finally flour. Mix until just combined. Put on the lid and let rise for 2-3 hours, then use or put in the fridge for up to two weeks. Use it the same way for pizza dough as above.