Once upon a time when I lived in Sausalito, every Friday night I would invite the gang over for some home made pizza. I had this pizza book that I got from ….somewhere, and you know my love affair with baking bread and yeast go way back. So it sorta made sense. Not to mention it was a lot of fun.
It has been awhile since I have made pizza though I don’t know why because it is so darn easy. Lucky for me that my friend Tracy’s son wanted exactly that recently. A home made pizza made by me, but ready to be baked at his house. No Problem.
So I was really glad I dusted off that book, looked at the very lovely stained pages of use and got back in the saddle. This recipe is from James McNair’s book ‘Pizza’ – so appropriately named. It would make a great pizza party night as there are so many creative pizza ideas.
This pizza was a pineapple one with “nothing else on it”. (Gosh it’s good to be 9 yrs old) That was what the order was. I tried, begged and pleaded for something else but a 9 year old knows what he wants. Did I get an easy job or what? Hence it looks a little pale in the photo, but I was told it was oh so yummy! You can put anything your heart or stomach desires on yours. See how accommodating pizza is. What’s not to love?
Ingredients for Pizza Dough
- 3 1/4 cups of Bread, semolina or all purpose Flour
- 1 Tablespoon Honey
- 1 cup of warm Water
- 1 envelope active dry Yeast
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
In a small bowl dissolve the honey in warm water that registers 110˚ to 115˚F. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and stir gently until it dissolves, about 1 minute. When yeast is mixed with the water at the proper temperature, a smooth, beige colored mixture results. Let stand in a warm spot until a thin layer of foam covers the surface, about 5 minutes, indicating that the yeast is effective. Combine 3 cups of flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in center of the flour and pour in the yeast mixture and the oil. Using a wooden spoon, vigorously stir the flour into the well, beginning in the center and working toward the sides of the bowl, until the flour is incorporated and the soft dough just begins to hold together.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Dust your hands with the flour and knead the dough gently in the following manner: press down on the dough with the heels of your hands and push it away from you, then partially fold it back over itself. Shift it a quarter turn and repeat the procedure. While kneading, very gradually add just enough of the remaining 1/4 cup flour until the dough is no longer sticky or tacky; this should take about 5 minutes. As you work, use a metal dough scraper to pry up any bits of dough that stick to the work surface. Continue kneading until the dough is smooth, elastic and shiny, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Knead the dough only until it feels smooth and springy; too much kneading over develops the gluten in the flour and results in a tough crust.
After mixing and kneading the dough shape the dough into a ball and place it in a well oiled bowl, turning to coat completely on all sides with oil. This oiling of the dough prevents a hard surface from forming that would inhibit rising. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap to prevent moisture loss, and set to rise in a draft free warm place (75˚F to 85˚F) until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes for quick rising yeast or 1 to 1 1/2 hours for regular yeast.
With your first punch down the dough as soon as it had doubled in bulk to prevent overrising. Shape it into a ball, pressing out all the air bubbles. If you are using bread flour or semolina flour, turn the dough in an oiled bowl to coast once more, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate it until puffy, from 35 minutes to 1 hour. Omit this step if using all purpose flour.
If you cannot bake pizza within 2 hours after rising, punch the dough down again, turn it in an oiled bowl to coat once more, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate. Let chilled dough come to room temperature before proceeding.
To make a 15 to 16 inch pizza, keep the dough in a single ball. To make two 12 inch round flat pizzas, two 10 inch calzone, two 9 inch deep dish pizzas, or a double crusted 10 inch round stuffed flat pizza, divide the dough into 2 equal sized balls. You get the idea.
Top your pizzas with your favorite toppings and place in 500˚ F oven for 10-15 minutes or until desired crust.
Enjoy! My apron of choice…….Poupon of course.