Friday, November 5, 2010

Pizza Crust

One of the staples in our house is pizza, in many different forms. If I am not making a Sweet Potato Pizza Crust, or experimenting in some other way, then I have an awesome go-to recipe from my KitchenAid stand mixer manual. The recipe ingredients are as the original recipe states, but I have a few tips to make this already easy recipe even easier.

According to the instructions, you should dissolve the yeast in warm water, but I usually follow bread machine rules, meaning that I put all ingredients (minus the last cup of flour) into the bowl of my stand mixer in the following order:
liquids and salt (warm water 105°-115°F/app. 41°-46°C* , salt and oil)
dry ingredients (flour and any herbs you may want to add)
yeast (make a well in the top of the flour for the yeast)
I always have at least one jar of yeast on hand, so one of my favorite gadgets of all time is my yeast measuring spoon from the King Arthur Flour Baker's Catalog . It measures out one packet of yeast (2¼ tsp)  in one easy step. What can I say? Small things make me happy.

The recipe also says to brush the pan with oil and sprinkle with cornmeal. I use all-natural vegetable parchment (no silicone added) to line the pan and skip the oil and cornmeal. By the way, I use this same parchment for everything (cakes, cookies, crackers, etc.). It saves time, allows you to cut down on oil, and it is biodegradable (I put mine in my compost pile). 

While the crust rises, I usually put a simple sauce together and set it on to simmer. That way we have a homemade sauce when the crust is ready to roll out. See Sweet Potato Pizza Crust for a simple tomato topping made with roasted Roma tomatoes.

1 package active dry yeast (2¼ tsp)
1 cup warm water (105°-115° F/app. 41°-46°C*)
½ tsp salt
2 tsp olive oil
2½-3½ cups all-purpose flour (you can substitute up to 1½ cups whole wheat)
1 Tbsp cornmeal (not needed if using parchment)

Either dissolve yeast in warm water, then add salt, olive oil, and 2½ cups flour (or follow the instructions listed above).  Mix using a dough hook on speed 2 for a KitchenAid. If you have a different mixer, use the speed recommended by your manufacturer for dough. Continue at same speed and add remaining flour at ½ cup at a time, until the dough starts to clean the side of the bowl.  Knead at same speed for 2 minutes longer.

Remove the ball of dough from the bowl, add a small amount of oil, and return the dough. Turn the dough to coat the surface in oil. Cover (I just put a towel over the bowl) and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, app. 1 hour or until doubled in bulk. Punch down the dough.

Preheat oven to 450°F (app. 230°C*).

At this point, you can decide whether you want a thick or thinner crust pizza. The recipe states this will make a 14" round pizza, but I usually use a sheet pan. I have made 2 thinner crust pizzas from this same dough, and simply reduced the baking time. Roll out the dough, forming a raised edge to contain the toppings. Add sauce, top as desired, and bake for 15-20 mins. (I often check the crust at 13 mins.)

Remove from the oven, allow to cool for just a few minutes. Enjoy! Leftovers heat up very well.

*I use an online conversion chart and round up or down, as seems appropriate. Please adjust according to your judgement, and send me a message if you find an error. Thank you.

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