Sunday, 23 March 2008
The secret is in the dough...
Pizza! Who doesn't love it? I've always been a great fan of pizza and the lovely wife and kids are no different. We can polish off two large Pizza's and still be a little hungry (read greedy!) I've made pizza at home before, but I've always used the ready made, frozen crust you get at the supermarket.
Just yesterday, I had to see to a few household fixits while the lovely wife took the kids for their immunisation shots. Just before leaving for the doctors, as we were discussing food plans, she said she felt like some homemade Pizza for dinner. She asked what ingredients I needed and I told her. As an afterthought, I added that I would try and make the Pizza dough myself for a change. She didn't seem too convinced though.
The reason why I wanted to try my own Pizza dough was simply because I have overcome my fear of baking bread. This is in a way thanks to my blog buddy - Breadchick who dared us all with the French Bread on last months Daring Bakers Challenge. I think I did a pretty decent job on that and I figured that if I can make French Bread, then a Pizza dough shouldn't be a problem. Also, Breadchick has often expounded the virtues of home made bread and I also had to push my boundaries didn't I! So thanks Breadchick for pushing me and for allowing me more belief in my breadmaking skills.
Both the Lovely Wife and I prefer a thin crust to a thick crust although whenever we order Pizza takeout, we normally go for thick crust. Simple economies of scale as a Thick Crust feeds more mouths...!
So anyway, I prepared myself for my Pizza Endeavour by surfing the web for Pizza Dough recipes. I found a few but I liked the one from Video Jug - complete with a video showing you how its done.
I doubled the recipe and substituted Instant Yeast for the Dried Yeast. I also dumped everything into my Kenwood and let the dough hook do its magic. I added a little flour as I now had a 'gut feel' as to what sort of texture to expect!
This is the recipe as I made it.
12oz Plain Flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp Instant Yeast
1 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
240 ml Warm Water
Polenta/Corn Meal for dusting
Sift flour. Make a well in the flour and add in the salt, yeast, sugar and Olive Oil. Then add in the warm water. Mix well. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes until a smooth, soft ball is formed. Place dough in a clean bowl and cover with a cloth. Leave to rise for about 2 hours. Dough will double in size. Cut dough into two and sprinkle with a little flour. Dust your rolling surface with a little flour as well. Roll out one piece of dough into a rough circle. Dust a pizza tray or circular tray with polenta (to prevent dough from sticking) and then press the dough to form a neat circle. Cover with your choice of Pizza Toppings and bake in a preheated 230C oven for about 20 minutes.
To get a thin dough, after rolling into a kind of circle shape, I let the dough hang from my fingers while slowly turning it - kind of like letting gravity stretch it out! When it was almost able to fit into the round Pizza tray, I spread out the edges and then patted it out onto the tray.
I only had one Pizza tray so what I did for the rest of the dough was to roll it out and then put a 9" round baking pan over the dough. I then cut around it to get a nice round Pizza shape! I baked the dough on Polenta dusted Cookie trays.
The measurement above gave me one 12" Pizza and two 9" pizzas. The Pizza dough turned out much, much better than I expected and the Lovely Wife was pleasantly surprised. She had expected my attempt at Pizza dough to be thick and chewy - sort of like the Foccacia that I had made before - and that was the reason for her reluctance to let me try to make my own dough. I was rather smug, I must admit! Okay, Okay... Very, Very Smug, actually!!!
For topping, I used a combination of Minced Beef, some Salami that I cut into strips, Cheese, Loads of Mushrooms and some capsicum. I also made my own sauce by frying lots of chopped garlic with basil, black pepper and oregano. Then I added some tomatoes and continued frying till a nice paste was formed. Add a little water and a whole can of tomato paste and I had this lovely Pizza sauce.
The kids thoroughly enjoyed my homemade dough and had their fill of pizza. I must say that it was very satisfying to be able to make my own pizza dough. Even more satisfying was how much the kids and lovely wife enjoyed the Pizza! I think we ALL overstuffed our faces...
As my son finished off his third Large slice of pizza, he commented with the trademark waving of his arms in the air.
"Okay! No need to order Domino's Pizza anymore, we can just have Dharm-ino's Pizza!"
Now I've always known that my son has inherited my sense of humour but even I was surprised at this gem!