Saturday, January 25, 2014

IT'S COLD! Time for Homemade Pizza

This recipe is simple. You have nothing to fear. Ingredients: 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 1 package active dry yeast, 1/4 tsp salt, 1 cup warm water (120 to 130 degrees F), 2 Tablespoons olive oil, then an additional 1 1/2 to 2 cups flour, plus flour for the kneading board or counter In large bowl, mix together the 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, the yeast, and the salt. For the water, boil water in a teakettle on the stove. When it whistles, fill a Pyrex measuring cup 2/3 full. Top off the other third with cold water from the tap or fridge. This will bring the water to the right temperature. Add the warm water and the 2 T olive oil to the flour mixture. Using a wooden spoon, stir by hand until it is mixed. Then stir vigorously for 3 minutes more, alternating arms every half minute or so if your arms get tired like mine do. Then begin to stir in the remaining 1 1/2 to 2 cups flour. If desired, start by stirring in 1 cup of whole wheat flour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in the remaining 1/2 to 1 cup flour (we are back to all-purpose again), to make a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic. Divide the dough in half. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 375 F. Take two 11x7 or 9x9 inch baking pans. Put a generous puddle of olive oil on each. Pat your hands in the olive oil, take one of your dough balls, and gently work it into the size and shape of a large pancake. Put it on the pan. Pat, squish, and gently stretch it into shape until it fills the pan. It may pull back from the edges a bit. If you get a hole, just squeeze the dough around it until the hole is covered. Let this crust rise while you do the same with the other one. If desired, you can let them rise up to 45 more minutes. Or, you can put them in the oven right away. They will puff a little more during baking, and this will cover some minor cracks in the crust. Put the plain crusts in the 375 oven for ten to fifteen minutes. Then, take them out, put on the toppings, and put them back in to bake until the cheese is melted and/or bubbly (about 15 or 20 more minutes). To get the feta/spinach pizza pictured here, I first brushed the baked crust with olive oil. Then I added a sparse layer of grated mozzarella, a generous sprinkling of feta, and a layer of thawed frozen chopped spinach. I topped it with a little more feta and mozzarella, and finished with a sprinkle of dried basil. For this version, top with spoonfuls of your favorite spaghetti sauce from a jar, grated mozzarella, and pepperoni.