Friday, December 16, 2011

Easy Pizza Making Time!


If you are anything like me, I love home made bread and all other yeast doughs, that includes pizza. But because my hands and arms have never been strong enough, kneading was not something I could do. Tried to convince Craig, that if we owned a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer, that comes with a dough hook, then we could save a lot of money making our own bread. After all, it is only three hundred bucks at amazon.ca! Oh well, instead I was blessed, when I stumbled upon my most favourite food blogger, Chef John at,  Food Wishes. Turns out there is a phenomenon called “no knead” dough! It seemed too good to be true, but we tried it and it worked! Who cares if you need to plan twenty hours ahead, it is so worth it to be able to finally make our own doughs! You will love this, if you too have wanted to make your own artisan style breads or just bread, or some simple pizza dough - this is it!
I can definitely say, that ‘no knead” doughs are a physically adaptive aid of sorts because we can all stir this. Just make  sure you stir it well with no flour pockets, or you will have some dry surprises in your finished product!
Now, let’s cook!
Ingredients
This is just one of a few variations. If you want to add more whole wheat flour or all white flour, it is up to you. As well, this dough, once stirred should be rather sticky and gooey but not runny.
Please check out Food Wishes  to watch a great video demonstration and for the original recipe of where we first learned this. I love cooking videos, and Chef John's are great, because he provides awesome narration and close-up shots of what he is doing. And it helps, that he also has a great sense of humour! We have of course, provided our own “tweaked” version, to make it our own. But we also recommend whatever Chef John does, after all we aren't chefs and he is. 
2 cups of white all purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/4 cups of room temperature water
1 teaspoon of kosher salt or any salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1/4 teaspoon of active instant yeast
This recipe should be cut in half if you only want two pizzas. Otherwise, this makes enough for 3-4, depending on the thickness you prefer.
Mix dry ingredients together and then pour in all the water and oil. Stir until well incorporated, if the dough is too dry, add extra water, one tablespoon at a time or do what we do, just wing it. If you are making pizza dough, you do want it a bit wetter than the bread dough.
Once combined we turn it over into an oiled (or not) deep bowl, and we cover it completely with tin foil. This dough will rise to at least double or more, so make sure you have enough room to allow for that to happen. You don't want your dough to hit the roof!
I do try to avoid causing fresh cut mushrooms from losing their water and creating watery puddles on my pizza. So on top of everything seems to help avoid that!
Now let the science happen! The dough sits in a warmish place for 16-18 hours. When you are ready, this is what we do... turn the sticky gluey risen mixture on to a very floured surface. Using the back of a big knife or a dough scraper (those cool rectangular metal devices that have a handle to grab along one side - click here to see what the heck I mean) to divide your dough up evenly.
If you can't use the dough right away, we just oil up a pieces of plastic wrap and form each section into a dough ball (pulling the sides down and tucking them under) and wrapping completely, with the oiled pieces of plastic wrap. Tuck them away in the fridge until you need them (or knead them, get it!! :o). 
I wouldn't leave it in the fridge for more than one night and a day. But, you can always experiment! When you are ready, take out your dough and preheat your oven to 500 degrees fahrenheit. Prepare the toppings. If you are using fresh tomatoes, I suggest, gently squeezing out excess juice to avoid soggy deposits on your pizza. And put them and fresh sliced, mushrooms on top of everything to avoid the watery, oozing, icky puddles that they can create, when steamed under a heap of cheese and toppings!
Roll out your dough on a floured surface. And generously oil the pizza pans and then spread and stretch out your dough onto the pan. If you want extra crunch and slide, you can sprinkle cornmeal or semolina on the oiled pans. When you are happy with the thickness and such, add sauce, pesto or nothing! We add olive oil and sprinkle dried or fresh Basil and Garlic Powder. Then add the cheese and toppings, or depending on what we are using, we may put some under the cheese and like I said the mushrooms and tomatoes, for sure, on top.  
*For added flavour you can mix cheeses, such as cheddar mixed with mozzarella and top with parmesan. The options, like the toppings, are endless!
Place them in the oven and stay close by. At such a high heat, the pizza will cook fast. If you are putting two in the oven then rotate them every 4 minutes or so, to ensure even cooking. When the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbling, you are ready to eat! Well, let your pizza set for about 4-5 minutes before cutting it. If you dove in right away, you can end up with a mess, not to mention the dreaded, roof of your mouth, cheese burn!!
Pre-Cook Crust Option
If you want to have pizza options available to you without having to plan 18 hours ahead of time. We have cooked the pizza crusts without the toppings and then after cooling completely, layer wax paper between each one and cover snuggly with plastic wrap and tin foil or a freezer bag. When you want pizza, just take out your crust, place them on an oiled pizza pan and top as you wish and bake off at 500 degrees, but not as long because your crust is cooked already.
As well you can always freeze cooked/topped pizza slices between wax paper. Just reheat in an oven. Or if you don't care about crunch, you can always microwave them on a paper towel. (I hate microwaved pizza, but again, your choice!)
Eat up and have fun!
Warning!!
P.S. Remember to never let doughs rise in drafty, cool areas. And also be careful to not use hot water for the yeast part, because it can kill it and there will not be any rising! Because the dough sits for so long, it is okay to just use tepid or slightly warm water.

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