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There are few things that offer as many possibilities as pizza. From a simple cheese pizza to the freakish concoctions of the California Pizza Kitchen, you can put pretty much anything on a slab of flatish dough, slap it in the oven and call it a pizza. Right now we are going to focus on making pizza dough as an essential skill you should be able to master primarily because it opens up so many other possibilities for meals. In short, much as having pizza dough lying around in your freezer is a great shortcut to have when you need to make a quick meal, it’s also an awesome shortcut for writing recipes because it is the starting point for so many ideas. A future post (probably tomorrow) will cover making marinara sauce which is another basic building stone in the cathedral of pizza. From then on, any time you see a pizza recipe on this blog you can mutter “Lazy bum …” as you make another fabulous meal.

One note about molasses: The dough you get from this recipe will have a slightly more tan color and a tiny bit of extra flavor than you may be used to getting from the standard, white pizza dough you might buy in the store. This is a good thing. If you are afraid of things that have color and flavor or if you simply don’t have any molasses handy (why wouldn’t you), you can swap out the molasses for any kind of fructose/sucrose substance. That would include honey, sugar, brown sugar (sugar with molasses added back in after refining), Demerara sugar (sugar with molasses left in during refining), corn syrup (if you work for Monsanto), etc. I have tried sugar, honey, brown sugar, and Demerara sugar and decided that I actually like the molasses best.

Equipment:

  • If using a stand mixer
    • Measuring cups
    • Stand mixer with dough hook
    • Large bowl
    • Plastic wrap
    • Clean dish towel
  • If not using a stand mixer
    • Forearms of steel
    • Measuring cups
    • 2 large bowls
    • Plastic wrap
    • Clean dish towel

Ingredients

  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 2.25 cups of warm water (take cold or room temperature water and put it in the microwave for 45 seconds)
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • .25 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 cups BREAD FLOUR (do not even think about all purpose flour)
  • 2 tablespoons coarse sea salt (not kosher salt and not table salt. You can use fine grain sea salt but if you do you should only use 1 tablespoon. But not Kosher salt and not table salt)

Serves: Makes 3 12×16″ pizzas worth of dough to feed 18 people, 9 olympic athletes in training, 6 stoned people, or 3 greedy pigs.

Time: Takes a minimum of 14 hours though about 13.5 hours of that time is spent waiting, sleeping, and drinking. Or just drinking if that’s how you roll.

Process

  1. Turn on some music in the kitchen. Do not turn on talk radio, NPR, or news. In fact, it’s best if you choose a single album by a single artist or band and not some crap fluff like Justin Beeber. Recommended to start: Bob Marley Natty Dread, or Steely Dan Alive in America. Your choice may vary according to your tastes.
  2. Put the warm water, molasses and the yeast in the bowl you are going to use for mixing. In the case of the stand mixer this would be the mixer bowl. Crack open a beer or pour a glass of wine and enjoy the first two songs (8-10 minutes) of your album. When you come back you should have cloudy water with scummy bubbles on top. This is the desired outcome and not a tragic waste of molasses, water and yeast.
  3. Take a different bowl (4-6 quart capacity) and pour a little extra virgin olive oil in the bottom. Swish it around then grab a paper towel and make sure the entire inner surface of the bowl gets some.
  4. Add flour, oil, and salt to the yeast mix.
  5. Stand Mixer instructions
    1. Turn up your music.
    2. Put dough hook on mixer, lower hook into bowl, turn mixer to speed 2.
    3. Pick up beer/wine and think about something pleasant while staring aimlessly at the ceiling.
    4. Once the dough ball forms (2 songs or 6-8 minutes) and the sides of the bowl are generally clean, let the mixer run for another song (3-4 minutes) while reveling in the majesty of creation.
  6. Hand mixing instructions
    1. Change your music to something with balls. I recommend AC/DC Back in Black or early Bruce Springsteen but Motorhead or Megadeath might be necessary depending on what kind of day you are having.
    2. Cursing the day you decided not to buy a stand mixer, stir with a wooden spoon until a rough ball forms
    3. Sprinkle bread flour over a 2×2′ space on your counter. NO! You may not use all purpose flour
    4. Pour 3 fingers of bourbon or vodka in a rocks glass over 4 ice cubes
    5. Think about your most annoying co-worker/boss/ex/person who stole your parking space at store
    6. Turn the rough ball of dough out onto the counter and knead it for 2-3 songs (8-12 minutes) adding flour if the dough starts to stick. You should pause to take a sip of your drink every few minutes when your hands and arms begin to cramp up. It also helps to curse under your breath.
  7. Transfer the ball of dough into the oiled big bowl, cover with a CLEAN dish towel (not that ratty piece of crap that has been hanging from the oven door handle for the past week) and put the bowl in a cool, darkish place. Not the refrigerator, that’s a cold dark place and certainly not the freezer. Think a little corner on the counter out of the sun and away from the oven.
  8. Stand Mixer instructions – Watch a movie. Something in the range of So I Married an Axe Murderer to Chocolat would be good. I recommend Big Night which comes in at 1:49:00 or so and is appropriately Italian and cooking related not to mention awesome.
  9. Hand mixing instructions
    1. Set a timer for 1 hour and 45 minutes
    2. Open a nice bottle of red wine.
    3. Sit down in front of your computer and drink the whole bottle while massaging your aching forearms and hands. You may opt to eschew stemware and drink straight from the bottle.
    4. Stop crying.
    5. Click here
    6. Click on the Buy with one click button
    7. Nap until the alarm goes off
  10. Dough should have risen and just about doubled in size. Stick your fist in the middle of the ball of dough and punch it down.
  11. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator overnight. Do not take it out of the refrigerator until the little hand has gone around at least once.
  12. Remove from the fridge and allow to warm to room temperature. This will cause the dough to rise a little more.
  13. Sprinkle bread flour on a small piece of the counter and dump the dough ball onto the floured spot.
  14. Step 11: Roll into a scaled up vienna sausage shape, about a foot long, and cut into three roughly equal pieces.

Dough can be frozen for up to a month or left int he fridge for 4 days or so. Always let it warm to room temperature before you start working with the dough.