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Friday, April 20, 2012

Like a Big Pizza Pie

I love pizza! Making homemade pizza dough is fairly easy, can be made in large batches and frozen for future use, and is super rewarding. My favorite pizza dough recipe is by Alex Guarnaschelli, Food Network chef and executive chef at Butter restaurant in NYC. I make minor adjustments here and there, and it always tastes great. Sorry, this one's a bit lengthy.

·         2-1/4 tsps-Active Dry Yeast
·         1-1/2 Cups-Warm Water (about 110 degrees F-I microwave for 1 minute on high)
·         3-1/2 Cups-All-Purpose Flour (plus additional for rolling dough-I usually substitute 1/2 with whole wheat flour)
·         2 tsps-Salt
·         1/2 tsp-Ground Pepper (recipe calls for white, I always use black)
·         1 Scant Tbsp-Honey
·         1 Tbsp-Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (Plus additional for coating bowl and greasing trays)
·         Additionally I add Greek or Italian Seasoning into the dough for added flavor

In a large bowl combine the yeast and warm water. Stir to dissolve the yeast and allow the mixture to rest for 5 minutes. Using a sieve, "sift" about half of the flour over the yeast mixture and blend until smooth with your hands. Add the salt, pepper and honey and mix to blend. Sift in the remaining flour and mix to blend.
Lightly flour a cutting board or flat surface. Turn the pizza dough onto the floured area and knead for 3 to 5 minutes. The flour should feel smooth and the ingredients fully integrated. Place the dough inside a lightly oiled large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or towel and let rest in a warm place, about 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in volume. 
Press gently on the dough and turn it onto a floured surface. Divide the dough into 2 or 4 equal parts, depending on size of pizza you would like. Roll each dough into a loose ball, cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow the dough to rest for an additional 15 minutes. Flatten each ball, and roll into a 12-inch round, if making 2, or 6-inch round, if making 4. Place each round on a lightly greased baking sheet. If your dough is not cooperating, you can just keep working it, or let it rest longer. I've found that the more rested my dough, the easier it is to roll/stretch. I try to incorporate some fancy pizza parlor skills, but there's no pizza dough tossing in my kitchen...
To Top:  I always brush with olive oil and use pasta sauce since I have that on hand and never go through a whole pizza sauce before it goes bad. I use about 3 large spoonfuls of sauce. If I use chopped fresh garlic I sprinkle that on next, then a layer of cheese. Top with whatever vegetables and/or meat you choose and sprinkle lightly with remaining cheese. As a side note, for pepperoni lovers, Hormel's turkey pepperoni is a great alternative and comes in a resealable package. Bake at 425 degrees F for 18-20 minutes. If the crust is not as crispy as you would like, place back in warm oven after slicing. Baking on a pizza stone also helps. Now the best part...ENJOY!! This will be our dinner tonight. I had pre-made the dough and frozen it. To thaw and use, I pulled it out of the freezer this morning, and it is already starting to thaw. When first making it I let it rose, so that's not hugely important, but I do have it in an oiled bowl to get to room temperature. If you're working all day, just pull it out the night before and put it in the fridge. Cold dough is pretty easy to roll out, just divide it and let it rest the 15 minutes and it should roll well. Those are my tips! : ) I haven't tried to grill the dough, but if I do and it works out, I'll let you know. That sounds like a fun idea for summer.

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