Thursday, May 19, 2011

Kitchen Adventures: Pizza!

So, last week I decided to make pizza for dinner. And not just any kind of pizza. The Real™ Homemade kind. The true Italian kind.
It was going to be an adventure.

I had already bought my 00 flour in preparation. 00 flour refers to how finely milled the flour is. In Italy there are three types of flour 1, 0 and 00, referring to how finely ground it is.
For a good pizza dough you want the finest you can find, this will make the dough easier to work with. (There are different types of Italian 00 flour, specialty pizza flour and regular 00 flour - either will work for a pizza dough).
If you don't have any Italian stores nearby a combination of general purpose flour and high-quality bread flour will work.

Under the recommendation of my awesome friend, who is also an amazing cook, I was going to use Mark Bittman's pizza dough recipe, from How to Cook Anything - it's very simple and only has 5 ingredients in it.

Of, course, as I was about to start making the dough I realized I had no idea what kind of yeast to use - the recipe calls for instant yeast, but the two I had in the cupboard has extra words on them! What to do!
So, I called my aforementioned awesome friend and left a frantic message, which went something like this: "Oh my gawd! You HAVE to be home! I have a yeast-related baking questions and I don't know who else to call! CALLLLLL me!"

Luckily, she returned my call in record time and explained the difference between the various yeasts and which one I needed to use.
Turns out I did have instant yeast, only it was called "quick-rise," which is how the confusion arose.
Apparently you can also tell the difference between yeasts by looking at the size of the yeast granules. The smaller granules are instant yeast, and the larger granules are regular yeast (the kind you need to add sugar to and allow to feed and rise).

Well, I tossed all the ingredients in the food processor- and voila! Dough! And it worked! Woo!
Step one complete.
Pizza dough, awaiting rising.

After waiting about an hour for the dough to rise it was time to roll it out. Now, I am the kind of person that loves to bake, but tends to have problems with doughs and rolling pins. Not so with this! It was s'wonderful, s'marvellous dough!
Whether this ease of rolling was due to the type of flour I used, the perfection of the recipe, or a combination of both I don't know - but suffice it to say - this was the easiest dough I've ever worked with.

A mostly round rolled out pizza dough.

The dough recipe I made was enough for 3 good sized pizzas (either large quarters, or 6 slices).
We made three different ones and had an entire pizza leftover!
Pizza one was a classic margarita with tomato sauce, slices of mozzarella, Parmesan, fresh basil, and more mozzarella.
The basil and mozzarella pizza.
Pizza two was an organic, free-range spicy pepperoni pizza, and pizza three was made with artichoke hearts, olives and capers.
They were all delicious.

Verdict: Not as hard to make as you would think, but definitely messy. Also, fun. A great dinner!
The mess my kitchen counter was in while making this!

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