Jon and I have a tradition. Friday night is pizza night.
The problem is that pizza places are dang expensive and the pizza is often not very good. So when Jon and I first got married and couldn't afford things like milk and bread, let alone something so extravagant as pizza, Jon decided that something had to be done. He started making his own pizza, using a Betty Crocker cook book that his mom gave us for our first Christmas together. It was cheap, and it was good (the pizza, not the cookbook). It became a Friday night tradition...pizza and a movie.
Years marched past, as they are wont to do, and sometime during the last decade, I took over the pizza making. It probably had something to do with Jon having to have a salad with his pizza and my detestation of the process of salad making. We decided without deciding that he would make the salad and I would be in charge of the pie. It is a good deal. I worked for several years in pizza places when I was a teenager, and I make a very pretty pizza, if I do say so myself.
Which, I do and just did.
This was never intended to be a food blog, but what can I say, we Newbury girls love food. So here is a pizza recipe that will have you saying, "Mama Mia!"
First, ignore everything your mother ever told you about proofing yeast and waiting to add the salt (sorry mom), and combine a cup of flour, 2 Tbs of sugar, a tsp of salt, and a packet (or two tsps) of yeast in a mixing bowl. I use the paddle for this first part as it mixes better than the dough hook. If you are backwoods like my sister though, you use a whisk and your hands. To that, add a cup of fairly warm water and 3 Tbs of olive oil.
Make it smooth and pretty. Then add another cup of flour.
I use a spatula to clean off the paddle and switch to the dough hook at this point. Add more flour until it looks like this:
It is still just a tad sticky, but is not sticking to the bowl anymore. Let the hook knead it for about five minutes. The tricky thing about bread making is that the dough is so affected by things like temperature, humidity, and the alignment of planets. So, one week I use three cups of flour total, but the next I might only need two and a half or so. This is how much of the third cup of flour I ended up using this time. It probably had something to do with the meteor shower or the tide. Who knows?
Now, clean off the dough hook, cover the bowl with a towel and go watch an episode of Seinfeld. Give it about half an hour, until it has doubled and two fingers leave an impression in the dough.
Gently scoop it out onto a floured surface (I usually use my pizza stone). Knead it for just a minute, folding the sides into the middle and set it seam side down to rest for a minute. I said, let it rest. This time to relax and meditate will make the dough easier to handle and roll out...not so elastic-y.
This is a key to a pretty dough. When it starts with this nice round shape, it is easier to get it to this nice round shape:
We are getting ahead of ourselves though. While you are giving the dough some time to relax, shred the cheese and make the pizza sauce. The sauce is an old family recipe passed down through the generations.
Seriously. Sometimes we use the Hunts all natural. I'm kind of neurotic and don't use spaghetti sauce with high fructose corn syrup, so if you care about that kind of stuff, read the labels. I pour the sauce into a bowl and add the paste until it looks like pizza sauce. About like this:
Thicker than sauce, thinner than paste.
Now, roll out the dough on your pizza stone, or put it onto a cookie sheet (see earlier pic). Poke it with fork all over so that it won't become pita bread and puff all up. If you are using a pizza stone, put it in the oven and NOW turn on the oven to about 415 degrees. Bake for about 15-20 minutes. Putting it in without preheating the oven turns the bottom element on so that the bottom of the pizza browns and allows the stone to heat up with the oven. Pre baking the crust eliminates sogginess in the middle of the pizza. If you are using a cookie sheet, you may want to preheat the oven and bake for only about 10 minutes though, because I'm afraid that it might burn the bottom of the crust through your flimsy girly-man cookie sheet.
When your crust looks like this:
Spread the sauce.
And whatever toppings your heart desires. We usually use pepperoni because Jon's a purist like that, but last night we discovered we were out. We did a half and half with lunch meat turkey and leftover taco beef and olives.
Because I decided it was now taco pizza, I added some cheddar to that side as well.
Put back in the oven and back for about 20 minutes or until it looks like this:
Use your sleeve to wipe the drool off of your mouth and enjoy with a nice cold root beer (Laura should have some of that).
Who needs Papa Johns and $20 pizza?