Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Pizza for Leah

I posted this a long time ago, I think, but let's go again, shall we?

The Best Pizza Crust in the Universe. Honest

Start the night before mixing up a sponge. If you have a jar of sourdough starter, you can skip this step and use a cup of that instead.

1 cup flour
1/2 cup water
scant 1/8 tsp yeast

Mix together, and cover loosely. Let sit overnight (or at least 8 hours if you forget and don't start until morning.)

2 hours before supper, mix together

Sponge (or starter) from above
3/4 cup water
2 1/4 cup unbleached flour
1/2 - 3/4 tsp yeast (if you have a good hearty sourdough starter that you used instead of the sponge, you can reduce or even eliminate this yeast)
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
generous shake (maybe a teaspoon?) of garlic salt (I like the kind with parsley)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
couple grinds of black pepper
bit of oregano and rosemary (more for smell than flavour)

Mix this ONLY until it's mixed - it'll be shaggy looking and that's fine. You don't want to get the gluten going or you'll end up with light, bready dough. You want chewy. Cover and let rise 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat your oven with the stone IN to 500ยบ. Punch down the dough and divide in 2. Pat, roll, stretch each piece into a 12" circle on a sheet of baking parchment. (You can sprinkle cornmeal on the parchment first if you like. I don't bother.) Slide the parchment/crust onto the stone using a paddle or cookie sheet. Bake the naked crust for 4 minutes, then remove and add sauce and toppings while the other crust bakes. Bake an additional 8 minutes with the toppings. I'll often slide the crust without parchment in for the second bake - the edges of the paper tend to get overheated and stinky, and after the first bake, the crust won't stick anyway.

Enjoy! And let me know what you think. You CAN make this in a breadmachine, I've done it when I know I'll be pressed for time. Start the sponge right in the machine, then shut it off and leave it over night. Add everything else in the morning. Let the machine run while you make coffee and toast a bagel, then shut it off again and leave it until you're ready to start dinner. It works just fine, just don't let it over-knead the dough.


QuiltingFitzy said...

Ever since your bread posts last year, dh has feverishly been trying to establish a sour dough started, without using the yeast. He's been pretty much unsuccessful, seems we just don't have any of those wild yeasties floating around. Any ideas?

Dorothy said...

Bake more. You can buy sourdough starter too. I'll bet there are a hundred places up around San Fransico that might be willing to part with it.

It's kind of a magic thing, and most places DO have some wild yeast floating around in the air. The trick is catching and keeping it. Someone cleaned out my fridge and threw out my starter, I guess I oughta get a new one going.

Rian said...

Thanks for the recipe. I often make pizza and I have wanted to get a sourdough started ever since we had the most amazing fluffy pancakes made out of sourdough in Alaska this year.

QuiltingFitzy said...

HA! That might be the problem. We don't bake when we are "on" good behavior...we don't have bread or other yummies...no crackers, no starches, etc!

He's doing an amazing amount of research on the topic, and conducting LOTS of experiments tho! Fun to see a man with a hobby.

Leah S said...

Great, thank you so much! I'm copying this down. Now I'm wondering... exactly what's a pizza peel/baking parchment. I did buy a pizza stone last week, but haven't figure out how to use it yet. (Mostly how to get the pizza on it intact).

Dorothy said...

A peel is the wooden paddle thing that you see bakers using to get their pizza (and breads etc) into the oven. Parchment is like wax paper without the wax - you can usually find it in the gracery store with the foil and plastic wraps. I use it when I bake just about anything - you don't have to wash the cookie sheets!

If you build your pizza on the parchment, getting it onto the stone is easy. Put the parchment onto a cookie sheet (one with no edges) or your peel. Put the dough onto the parchment, make your pizza, and carry it on the cookie sheet over to the open oven. Use a very shallow angle and a quick tug on the cookie sheet - the parchment and pizza slide onto the stone - it's like a great big spatula.

Leah S said...

Ok, parchment paper, I'm pretty sure I've seen it before! (When I was searching for freezer paper). Looks like next week we'll have yummy pizza. :) Thanks!

Dorothy said...

If it's just the two of you, you can wrap and freeze the extra crust. After the first bake, before the second. Works just fine.