Friday, December 9, 2011

Homemade Pizza

One of the items Nick was most excited for on our wedding registry was our pizza stone. I'll admit I was more excited for other things, but I've since become a convert. For me, pizza was always a take-it-or-leave-it food. Blasphemy, I know. Occasionally I would crave it - I do love cheese a lot - but I almost never ordered it, and even less often cooked it at home. Nick, however, is a normal human being who wants pizza on Saturday nights. To keep our budget under control, making pizza at home was a better option than buying frozen or take-and-bake at the grocery store, and a much cheaper option than delivery. Plus, at home, you can have all the crazy toppings you want (without skyrocketing the cost of your pizza). And there is no sacrifice in taste with homemade - this pizza could stand up to any delivery pie.

Using the pizza stone allows us to get a really good crisp crust that stands up to the piles of toppings we like to add. You can also apparently grill pizza, but that's a foray we haven't made yet.

Whole-Wheat Pizza Crust
This makes enough for two 12-14 inch crusts. I've tried several pizza dough recipes, and this is by far my favorite. The bread machine makes it fairly hands-off, and the dough was very easy to work with. The crust also stayed crisp, even when re-heated in the microwave. Adapted from The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook.

1 1/3 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat spelt flour
1 cup white-whole wheat flour
2 tsp active dry yeast

1. Combine ingredients in your bread machine according to the manufacturer's instructions. Set for the dough cycle, and remove when the machine beeps at the end of the cycle.
Alternatively, combine the water (use warm water for this method) and yeast, and let stand until frothy (about 5 minutes). Combine flours in a large mixing bowl, and make a well in the middle. Add oil and yeast mixture, and stir until combined (you can just use your hands). Knead until you have a smooth, elastic ball. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place 1-1.5 hours, until almost doubled in size.
2. Divide the dough in half, and shape each half into a disc by tucking the edges under into the middle. Set on a clean surface, and cover lightly with a clean dish towl for 30 minutes, until slightly puffed.
3. Preheat oven and pizza stone to 450 degrees.
4. Roll out one dough round out until about 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle your pizza stone with cornmeal. Transfer the dough to the stone (I use my rolling pin for this, but a pizza peel would be ideal). Bake for about 8 minutes, until the bottom begins to turn golden brown. During baking, pop any bubbles that form with a fork.
5. Remove the pizza skin from the oven (you can put the second one in to bake now). We use tongs to do this. Place the skin on a pizza tray or very large plate, and top as desired (see below for ideas).
6. Return the pizza to the oven for 12-15 minutes, until the toppings are cooked and the cheese is starting to brown. (Top your second, now baked, pizza skin while the first one cooks, the stick it in when the first one is done.)
7. Let cool for a minute or two before slicing, and enjoy!

We don't have a sauce recipe nailed down yet, but we're working on it. For cheese, we use a blend of mozzarella and whatever else we have in the house - a recent favorite is aged provolone.

Topping ideas: 
Veggies (pictured above) - mushrooms, grilled bell peppers, and thinly sliced onions, topped with chopped cilantro (or basil) after baking. Layer half of the cheese under, and half of the cheese on top of the toppings to hold them in place. Sprinkle the top with Italian seasoning. You may need to dab up extra veggie juice from the top of the pizza after baking (to keep it from making the crust soggy later on).
Hawaiian - Nick's specialty, this has sliced almonds, diced ham, and chunks of pineapple (fresh if you can get it!), sprinkled with cinnamon. I only got one slice out of this whole pizza. It's mega delicious.

How do you top your pizza?

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