Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Pizza Party!

Vince and I both have pizza-making pops. We both remember our dads making dough, kneading away at a mass of flour, water, and yeast that would somehow come together in a smooth shiny ball and grow in a warm dark corner of the garage. Pizza days are special at my house, especially because it meant that dad had the day off from work and would be home early for dinner. It also meant that we would be able to sneak little bits of cheese slathered in papi's homemade sauce just before the pies headed to the oven.

When we were little, I remember that we used the big squares of Polly-O mozzarella, cutting it into uneven slices and eating almost half before it made it to the pie. As we got older and our tastebuds grew wiser, dad would experiment with toppings goat cheese, spinach, more grown-up tastes.

Inspired by a Gourmet recipe for pizza dough and a temporary bought of insomnia, I decided to make pizza dough a few weeks ago. (Dad usually makes a Cuban empanada dough recipe.) I let it rise overnight in the fridge (which is actually a good way to go with bread dough, less boozy smell from over-rising and "chewier, more airy crumbs", according to Cooks Illustrated #100).

We topped it with papi's sauce (garlic, olive oil, oregano, and salt run through the food processor, add that to the crust then pour on tomato sauce straight from the can and swirl around with your fingers, or a spoon if you must. Proportions, you ask? Papi doesn't use measuring spoons! He just knows.), pepperoni, italian sausage and onions on one and (our favorite) anchovies and garlic on the other, seriously flavorful! Pair this with a good salad and you are set for dinner. We were also able to cut up the leftovers into bite size pieces for an appetizer the next day.

Pizza Dough Recipe (Gourmet Magazine, July 2009, p.86)

2 (1/4 oz.) packages of active dry yeast

4 1/2 to 5 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, divided plus additional for dusting

2 cups of warm water (105-115 degrees) divided

2 tsp salt

Wisk together yeast, 2 tbsp flour, and 1/2 cup warm water in a measuring cup and let stand until mixture develops a creamy foam, about 10 minutes. (If this mixture doesn't foam, discard and start over with new yeast.)

Stir together salt and 3 cups flour in a large bowl. Add yeast mixture and remaining 1 1/2 cups warm water and stir until smooth, then stir in 1 cup more flour. If dough sticks to your fingers, stir in just enough flour (3/4 cup), a little at a time, to make dough just come away from side of bowl. (This dough may be wetter than other pizza doughs you have made.)

Knead doung on a lightly floured surface with floured hands, lightly reflouring work surface and your hands when the dough becomes too sticky, until dough is smooth, soft, and elastic, about 10 minutes.

Divide dough in half and form into two balls, then generously dust balls all over with flour and put each in a medium bowl. Cover bowls with plastic wrap and let dough rise in a draft free place at warm room temperature until doubled, 1 to 1 1/4 hours.

Cook's Note: Dough can rise slowly in the refrigerator for 1 day. Bring to room temperature before using.


jenuflections said...

Your dad's pizzas are soo good. I really liked the spinach/goat cheese one I tried.. As a meatasaurus, I was surprised that veggies can actually taste good on a pizza!

CARMEN said...

That pizza looks amazing!