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Pizza night! April 23, 2010

Posted by Peeps in Cooking, Food, Home.
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If you’ve ever read this blog on a Monday, you may have noticed the mention of pizza night on Fridays.  It’s been a regular thing in our house for almost two years now.  And it’s mostly because I’m fussy.

As anyone who is from the New York Tri-State area is aware of, getting good pizza away from that area is almost impossible.  I’m now very far from that area, and I spent a long time missing good pizza.  There used to be a place not far from our house that was acceptable.  It was mighty close to what I was used to from back home.  But they lost their lease and had to close.  Nuts.  We tried a few other places, with no great success.

Then we started playing with sourdough starter.  And Toys wondered if we could make pizza dough with it.  She did her research online and found that some of the best pizza doughs used sourdough starter.  Huh.  We did some experimenting, and found the results were pretty good.  And thus, pizza night was born.

A couple weeks ago, I was asked if I could give out my pizza dough recipe, and because I’m a sport, here it is.  Just a couple things first.  This recipe doubles very nicely.  A single batch will make one largish pizza or two somewhat small ones.  Doubled, it makes three nice sized pizzas.  When making a single batch, I prefer to used our stand mixer.  But the mixer does not like doing a double batch at all.  It complains so much that I don’t even bother any more.

Okay, to a large bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer, add one tablespoon of sugar, one half tablespoon of kosher salt, one tablespoon of olive oil, three tablespoons of warm water, three quarters of a cup of awakened sourdough starter and two cups of bread flour.  If you don’t have bread flour, or like me you don’t want to have to keep a fifth type of flour in the house, you can use two cups of all purpose flour along with two teaspoons of vital wheat gluten.

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Mix just enough to bring everything together.  Then cover with plastic wrap and walk away for at least half an hour.
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This allows the dough to autolyse.  Or allow the flour to absorb the moisture as fully as possible before gluten develops.  As well as giving you time for a tasty beverage.

Once the waiting time is over, it’s time to knead.  If you’re doing this by hand, turn your dough onto a floured board and have at it.
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If you’re working with a stand mixer, you’re going to have an easier time. Just set the mixer on medium speed and keep it from walking off the counter.  Knead until you have a smooth, pliable dough, probably between ten and fifteen minutes.

Once your dough is ready, divide into roughly equal portions.
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A scale will help here.

Take each portion of dough, and form a ball, trying to keep the skin on the outside nice and tight.  They now need to rise.  I like to use Chinese take out containers as they keep the dough the proper shape.  Spray the containers with non-stick spray and place the dough seam side down inside.
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Then spray the tops of the dough with more non-stick spray and cover with plastic wrap.
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You now have pizza dough.

Now, you can use this the same day, and it’ll be fine.  But to truly get great pizza, you need to give your dough some time to develop some flavor.  I make pizza dough on Tuesday for eating on Friday.  Just put your containers of dough into the fridge and forget about them for a couple days.  You’ll be very happy you did.
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When you want to use your dough, be sure to take it out of the refrigerator a couple hours ahead of time to let it come up to room temperature.

Preheat your oven to 550 degrees.  And by preheat, I mean turn it on at least an hour before you plan to eat.  It’ll take a while to get up to temperature, and a while more to make sure that your stone is hot enough.  Yes, the stone needs to be in there while the oven is heating.

As an aside, if you don’t have a pizza stone and peel, don’t be tempted to form your pizza on a pizza pan and pop the thing in the oven.  What you’ll get may be edible, but it probably won’t be great.  Any restaurant supply store has a variety of peels.  And your neighborhood home improvement store has unglazed quarry tiles to use in place of an expensive pizza stone.  We keep quarry tiles in the bottom of the oven all the time.  They’re also useful for baking bread.  And yes, we owe this tip to Alton Brown.  Thank you, sir.

Once the oven is hot, you can stretch your dough and shape it.  Yes, I toss mine.  I’m a show off.  Sorry.  Then top as you see fit.  Five minutes on the stone ought to be enough time in the oven.  And with a bit of practice, you may never spend money on delivered pizza ever again.  We haven’t in a quite a while.

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Comments

1. sjbraun - April 23, 2010

I *love* sourdough bread. Alas, I fear I am too lazy to fiddle with making a starter, though. Your pizza dough sounds heavenly …

Peeps - April 26, 2010

We tried making our own starter, but that didn’t work out very well. We ended up getting some starter from someone Toys met online. Free, even. And it’s been with us ever since.

2. Melissa - April 23, 2010

Thanks for sharing your recipe! I’m definitely going to give this a try. Letting the dough rest in the refrigerator for a few days makes it even more convenient.

I always think about tossing the dough circle in the air. Then I remember that I’m the one who has to clean the kitchen. :)

Peeps - April 26, 2010

Tossing the dough isn’t as hard as it looks. And it’s the best method for shaping a pizza properly.


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