Monday, March 01, 2004


Beginning here, I will be posting as we go along various descriptions of food our family makes and eats. The first post will be of a favorite - pizza, though we can get burned out on them. I got the recipes from various pizza recipes both online and in various cookbooks and I believe we are close to mastering pizza making. We've even made pizza on our outdoor grill. The problem with making pizza at home is that you do need to purchase some equipment to do it right - a large pizza peel, a pizza stone, a good rocking pizza cutter - we bought our stuff at William-Sonoma and some pizza cooking websites. We usually make a large batch of pizza at one time and refrigerate the leftovers which we eat over the ensuing several days.

Here are the ingredients we use:

1. One of the keys to getting the dough to rise is to use non-chlorinated, clean water. We used r/o-d/i water which we make ourselves with our own r/o-d/i filter in our basement. We refill 3gallon jugs of it and keep it going with one of those standard water coolers which keeps a ready supply of ultra-pure - 0 TDS, 0 conductivity water on hand in our kitchen. We also own one of those nifty Japanese Hot-water pumps and keep this filled with this filtered water - this gives us an instant supply of boiling hot water for use to make tea, to make ramen noodles, or to use to mix the perfect temperature water (in concert with our cooled cooler water) for various projects:

2. Using this water mixture you must create water somewhere around 120-150F and mix into it about 1TBSP of salt and 1-2 TBSP of sugar. Then you add about a TBSP of good yeast and proof it - wait a few minutes until you see active explosive blooms of yeast culture growing into a foaming pile:

3. Then we measure out 1.5 cups of bread flour, followed by 1 cup of wholewheat flour, then followed by a final 1.5 cup of bread flour into our KitchenAide mixing bowl, add 3 capfuls of extra-virgin olive oil - and when our yeast has been proofed, add the entire bowl of yeast-proof mix into the mixing bowl. Here's how the kitchenAide bowl looks before the yeast-proof mix is added:

And here's how the mixing bowl looks after the yeast-proof goop is added to it and stirred up with a spoon:

4. The mixer is then turned on low and we watch as the gooping mixture magically transforms in a matter of a few seconds into formed dough - the key is to get a feel for the correct consistency of the dough by adding the perfect amount of water and flour. You can never quite pre-judge the exact amounts of each - you must watch the behavior of the mixture against the sides of the mixing bowl (cleanly pulls away from the mixing bowl and forms into organized balls with elasticity on the dough hook):

Alternatively (if you are a purist) you "punch the dough down" for 20minutes by hand (exhausting), or do what we do: let the kitchenAide mixer do all the work for you - you can run the thing on Medium-High, all the while frequently tucking the spinning-up tops of the dough back under the dough hook in the mixer (so the dough ends don't fall out of the mixer) - the mixer can do the job in about 5 minutes or so.
You must do the final test of dough consistency: you poke a belly button into the formed dough and watch to make sure your withdrawn fingerhole starts collapsing inward quickly - no stickiness should be felt on your finger and the hole should not completely disappear either - this is all very subjective stuff:

5. You pull out the end result, powder it up with some flour, then let it rise in a warmed bowl covered with a towel. Note my dough right after it goes in the bowl, then the same doughball about 1 hour later (after the "first rise"):

You cover it with a towel to prevent drafts from disturbing the action of the yeast - the warmer your dough, the faster it rises - we usually go ahead and start the oven - at 455F to heat the pizza stone in the oven, and let the warm oven heat the rising dough over a towel:

6. After 2 rises, we punch out the dough and flatten it:

7. We roll the edges (to hold in the sauce), ladle on the tomato sauce:

8. We then slide the pre-pizza onto our pizza peel (you have to keep the bottom of pizza dusted with flour),
add toppings:

Add Mozzarella:

Slide the pre-pizza onto the pizza stone in the oven:

9. In about 7 minutes at 455F, the pizza is done and you peel it off the
pizza stone and onto a prepared surface (we use an aluminum cookie sheet):