Friday, August 04, 2006

Homemade Pizza 101

Despite the oppressive heat we've been having lately, SP and I decided to make homemade pizza for dinner last Saturday. I know, I know. We are obviously insane. But the way we figured it, we could crank up the A/C in the living room, turn on the fan for good measure and then the heat from the oven wouldn't bother us. Call us crazy, but it worked. And man, was the pizza good!

We cheated and bought dough from the Italian bakery down the street. They make an excellent dough and it's one less step we have to do ourselves. This was actually the second dough we bought. The first dough came from the supermarket and had been frozen. We took it out to defrost for dinner on Thursday, but something came up and we decided not to make the pizza. So the dough sat in the fridge until Saturday and by the time I went to roll it out, there were black marks on it. Not knowing whether that was mold or not, we opted to throw it away instead of risking it and out SP went to the bakery for new dough.

We had some leftover pepperoni from a dinner party, baby bellas and a small can of black olives. SP whipped up a quick pizza sauce using a recipe from the Italian momma herself (Lidia) and we were good to go. The last few times we've made homemade pizza the sauce has been runny and flavorless and the middle of the pizza ends up soggy. This time everything came together nicely.

I rolled out the dough on the counter, which I'd spread with flour. It took some patience since the dough is very elastic and tends to bounce right back. With some good old fashioned elbow grease it eventually starts to resemble something like a pizza. Except mine always end up in odd shapes. Take this one, for example. Heart shaped. Oh well. Still tasted good. I put the dough on a piece of parchment paper dusted with cornmeal. At this point I was able to arrange the dough in a slightly more circular fashion. Then I ladled on some sauce, which was nice and thick this time, and arranged the toppings. Once those were on, I covered everything with shredded mozzarella (a tip for shredding: stick the cheese in the freezer for about 15 minutes).

We had been preheating our pizza stone in a 500 degree oven. Once the pizza was ready, SP lifted the parchment paper and placed the pizza onto the stone. Me being slightly scatterbrained, I forgot to trim the edges of the parchment paper and about 3 minutes into the cooking time we started to smell burning paper. Out came the pizza stone, the edges of the paper were trimmed and back it went into the oven. After about 15 minutes it was done. You can tell when the edges of the pizza have risen and look hard and the cheese is melted and is starting to brown in spots.

We let it cool on the counter for 5 minutes before slicing it so the cheese has a chance to set.
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