Friday, November 28, 2014

Making Pizza - Step by Step

How good does this look?! My husband and I were so proud when we finally sat down to devour it.

My father started making pizza from scratch a few years ago, and it never disappoints. He is so good at it, he has friends and family over specifically for pizza parties! And as you could imagine, no one ever goes home hungry. He shared his pizza dough and pizza sauce recipes with us, and the pizza came out awesome! Of course there is always room for improvement, but is homemade pizza ever really BAD?

My dad uses both recipes from the America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. For those who have never watched the show, it's actually a pretty fascinating concept. The chefs try hundreds of recipes in their test kitchen, to determine the best of the best - best mac & cheese recipe, best way to cook stew, the best bake ware, and so forth. As my mother would say "Why try a ton of different recipes to find the best one, when they've already done it for you?" So, this wonderful show spawned a couple of cookbooks, and my family uses them constantly!

Pizza Dough recipe (From America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook)
Makes about 2 pounds of dough, enough for 3 (12 inch) pizzas

4 1/4 cups bread flour
1 envelope instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups warm water

We knead ours in our Kitchen Aid mixer with the dough hook and it works wonderfully. Others use a food processor. You can of course knead by hand, but be prepared for it to take a while. And for your arms to hurt!

Pizza Sauce Recipe (From America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
salt and pepper

Classic Cheese Pizza - How to
1 pizza dough (above)
pizza sauce to liking (above)
12 ounces mozzarella shredded (3 cups)
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Olive oil
6 tablespoons torn fresh basil (we didn't add)

1. Heat up pizza or baking stone at 500 degrees (about 30 min). If you don't have one, I've seen people use a regular baking sheet as well.

2. Roll out pizza dough on a floured counter, and cut evenly into 3 pieces. Work with one piece, and cover the other 2 in plastic wrap. If you're only making one pizza, freeze the other two. They freeze well.

3. Shape and stretch the dough into a 12 inch round on parchment paper. Ours was NOT nice and round, just do the best you can. Add your sauce, cheeses, oil, as seen in our photos below. Make sure to leave some space for your crust.

4. Slide pizza and parchment paper onto pizza stone or baking sheet.

5. Bake 8-13 min, until crust edges are brown and until cheese is golden in spots.

6. Remove from oven, transfer pizza onto a cutting board and discard parchment paper.

7. Cut into slices.

8. Enjoy and make everyone jealous of your pizza!

Adding our pizza sauce and cheeses! I'll admit, I kinda overdid it with the cheese =)
Last time, we used parchment paper and it burned a little bit in our oven, yikes.
This time, we used the back of a baking sheet with some cornmeal.
The cornmeal helps slide the flimsy pizza onto the hot pizza stone. 

 My husband and I sitting on the floor, watching our pizza cook! 
We weren't sure how quickly our oven would cook, so we just sat and watched it =)

Ta DAAA!! We added some pepperoni to half our pizza. 
It came out delicious and we will be definitely trying it again. 

A few tips:

1. How long to leave the pizza in takes time to master, in my opinion. I thought the pizza was cooked well, whereas Greg thought it could have been cooked a little longer to crisp up the crust more. I guess it depends on your taste.

2. Getting a paddle peel (wooden paddle used to take pizza in and out of oven) might make sense if you are serious about making pizza. This was only our second time doing it ourselves, and could have definitely used one. As I mentioned before, it's kinda tough getting the raw dough into the oven since you can't really touch it without it ripping, folding, etc. 

3. Get creative with toppings! There are plenty of websites out there to get inspiration from - my dad has been on a bacon and pineapple pizza kick lately. It sounded disgusting when he first mentioned it, but now it's one of my favorites! You don't have to go crazy - add some pepperoni or try a white cheese pizza.

4. Experiment with different amounts of pizza sauce and cheese to get the mix just right. 

5. Practice rolling out your dough. This part doesn't come easy. We took a cooking class last year, and our instructor showed us how to make pasta dough (very similar). Getting the dough the right shape, thickness, consistency takes practice, so don't get discouraged. 

As we continue to improve our pizza making techniques, I will be sure to update you guys on any new tips and tricks we learn along the way. As always, thanks for reading!! 

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