Fun Activity: Read the rest of this blog as if Mario were right in your face, reading it for you. Keep doing it, long after the fun (if there ever was any) wears off.
Then feel sorry for poor, poor Simon and marvel that he doesn't smack Max in the face at every opportunity.
So anyway -
The Sunday after Yakima Mark made dinner.
It was pizza!
I've only ever tried making pizza dough twice, and both times it was the recipe out of my bread-machine book. It came out so extremely doughy and chewy and BREAD, that I attempted it twice and then decided never to bother again.
I mean, it was okay and all, but not worth the trouble for the quality. There was nothing about it that said "pizza dough." It was like I took loaf-bread dough and smooshed it around a pizza pan.
I have a suspicion that if that same dough were plopped into a big cast-iron pizza pie pan with a half a cup of oil in the bottom and then rolled through a 425 degree oven on a conveyer belt, that the dough might actually be pretty awesome (this is what I observed happening to "deep dish" pizza at the Pizza Hut, if you wanna know.) But I don't have access to industrial cookware and machines, so basically the bread-machine pizza dough recipe sucks.
So, one day, a day long before Sunday Dinners started happening, we were talking about making our own pizza again. I figured we'd buy a crust mix, or go for insanely overprice Boboli (I'm pretty sure there's a reason those items are stocked in the same isle as the beer at my Safeway) but Mark was all "Back off, Denise, I've got this!"
He said he was going use his... grandfather's recipe? I dunno, some scrap-paper recipe out of out of this Better Homes cookbook his mom gave us when we moved into the homestead.
And, you know, I was afraid. Some of the recipes he's pulled out of there haven't always turned out so awesome. Not like when I try things and everything comes out flawless.
Turns out though, it was pretty fantastic. It was thin and chewy, but not "gnawy," if you know what I mean. It was The Pizza Dough and it's all we've really stuck to since.
I don't know if it's all that magical or uncommon, but behold!
Mark used to mix this by hand, but more recently, he's been using the trusty Kitchenaid Stand Mixer. You may remember that ours died recently, and it was very sad. Very sad.
But! We still have the bread machine (which I really only use to make dough) and I convinced Mark that it would be fine to use it when he prepared the dough Saturday night.
Preparations part I: The Dough
Mark sifted all of the dry ingredients into this bowl (this was before I explained that you just throw everything into the machine and let it go) and substituted, I believe, a quarter cup of flour for the pizza dough flavor featured above. You get that from King Arthur Flour if you're interested.
You should be, by the way. Interested I mean.While I much enjoyed the crusts from before we discovered KAF, this powder really takes the dough to a whole other level. In fact, if you make your own crust very often at all then you should run right out to the Internet and buy some. Today!
Mark also proofed the yeast before adding that and the flour mixture to the machine. I doubt that had very much effect on the end result, but I thought I'd tell you anyway.
The next step, after all the ingredients started whap-whap-whapping away in the machine, is to take your manly self out for a night of No Stupid Family Bugging Me All the Time and Making Me INSANE... or whatever you happen to call it when you go have some "me time."
(and Mark really needs the "me time." He works while they're at school, but otherwise is with them All. The. Time. On top of that he puts up with all of my crap and is also in charge of driving everyone everywhere. Considering he'd spent the previous Saturday in Yakima with me and my family - yeah, it was time for him to get out.)
While Mark was gone it was all on me. I had to stay on top of things to make sure everything turned out okay.
Luckily I was up for the task.
|Apologies for any trigger this may have caused amongst you BB addicts.|
Once the machine beeped I sprang into action. I turned the dough out into a bowl I'd previously greased up with olive oil - BAM! Then I flopped it over so it was completely oiled and wouldn't dry out - WHIPPOW! Then flung a towel over it - ZING! And then, exhausted from my exertions, I left it on the counter for a second rise.
When Mark got home from being not-awesome -
|Seen here: Better odds than at the |
Emerald Queen Casino
he put it in the fridge where it would hang out (and, unfortunately, dry out) until the next day.
The Next Day:
|Trust me, it's pretty crusty on the other side. |
Like your mom.
We figured at this point that we probably had enough dough, if stretched very thinly, to make two pizzas. Since it was kinda crusty on the bottom and because we really didn't need two pizzas, we opted for one. It was decided I would stretch the dough out what with all of my pizza making experience.
We scattered a little corn meal on the bottom of our pizza pan (yeah, that's right pizza snobs, a PAN. I've heard having a pizza stone in your oven is awesome and all, but we aren't, so there.) The corn meal helps keep the dough lifted a little above the pan so that it browns better. It also helps it slide off easier, as well as adding a pleasant texture to the finished product.
When it was all stretched out we used a meat tenderizer to dent up the top. This has a similar effect as using a dough docker without having to run out and buy one, or spend three days using the tines of a fork. What's the point? It keeps your dough from rising too much or getting puffy and blistery.
At this point you could make a stuffed crust. Just get 8-10 string cheese sticks and put them around the edge of the pan. Then pull the lip of the dough over the stick and and smoosh down on the other side with your thumb. Repeat this process and inch or so at a time until you've went the whole way around the pan.
I've seen some videos that show them pulling up a whole section, like a slices worth, and folding that over and tucking it somehow. Trust, me, a little bit at a time works better.
And you don't just have to use string cheese. You know what would be awesome with a white pizza? Asparagus - tell me that doesn't sound awesome!?
Or, if you'd like to go completely in the other direction, pepperoni sticks.
I wouldn't recommend anything really loose (like shredded cheese) because then it becomes a big, messy pain. If the dough pulled over the stuffing doesn't reach dough on the other side, then it's not going to stick. Then, as it bakes, it'll likely unstick and your stuffed crust will start looking more like a poorly healed incision line.
Preparations part II: Toppings
(ideally, were we being super fancy, part II would cover sauce preparation, and part III would be toppings. Instead we used squeezy sauce and were happy with it)
We went for your basic Extreme Combo type pizza.
Along with the above we decided to use the Italians sausage we'd bought from Heritage Meats through Full Circle Farm.
|Now you just peel the skin off!|
Any handy housewife can do it!
Honestly I just included those steps to make any guys out there feel vaguely uneasy. You're welcome!
We kept it in big chunks because we wanted sausage BITES, not sausage sprinkles.
Once that was all done, Mark got to building the pizza.
|Some of you might have noticed that a wedge of this pizza was completely|
devoid of vegetation. Enablers ho!
The side closest to the camera died a little (the yeast did, anyway) because we left the prepared pan, minus toppings, to rest on top of the oven while it pre-heated. Heat escapes from the lip of our oven door, and killed the dough closest to it. That's why it looks so flat and sad.
Also, when the pizza was almost done Mark slid it off of the pan and onto the rack so the bottom would get extra crisp. He guesses that he left it in there about 90 seconds too long, because while the bottom was fine, the cheese did get a little more brown that we were going for.
However, it still turned out awesome.
That's more of the same salad I've been making up there. I love olives! I love peperoncinis!
Maybe I have a problem...
Nope! I just rule at salad is all!
|Evidence of Awesomeness|
Dinner was quite the success as far as the boys were concerned. I was pretty happy too.
Mark cut the pizza into eighths so that we each had a good sized slice for dinner, and would also have one for lunch the next day.
I ate mine later that night. It was cheesy and awesome and I thought I did it better justice by enjoying it in all of it's awesomeness rather than making it ride a bus for two hours and then nuking it in the workplace microwave or eating it cold.
I made the right call.