In the last year and a half I have really grown to love pizza. I don’t know if my taste buds changed while I was pregnant with my baby Lincoln, or if I have fallen to the dark side due to exposure to my pizza-lovin’ hubby. Either way, I am a changed and now converted pizza fan. This is an entirely new phenomenon for me. I used to loath the times when I was “forced” to have pizza for dinner. It felt like a total cop-out of a meal. It was always way too doughy and bland. I just wasn’t digging it people! I know this might offend 99% of Americans since we as a whole apparently consume fantastical amounts of the stuff. Thanks a lot Pizza Hut. You are officially to blame for our obesity issues. No offense. It’s not like you forced us all to eat it. We just did because you made it so cheap, how could we resist?
Anyway. I was slowly but surely exposed to the real deal. Authentic Italian Pizza. It is incredible. Thin crust in the center. Crispy on the bottom, filled with ingredients I drool over. NOT drenched in oily cheese. The flavor is amazing. I have attempted to make pizza in the past with decent results, but this week I had a breakthrough! All thanks to my awesome husband Mike. He’s looking out for his girl.
A week or so ago my husband showed me a book he bought a while back. Don’t know why he never told me about said book, but I sure am excited about it! Here it is:
First weight your 00 flour out into a large bowl. (This flour has the finest lightest texture. Oh la la.)
In a medium sized bowl add warm water, yeast and salt together. Mix with a whisk until it is smooth and the yeast is dissolved. Next make a bowl shape in the center of the flour and pour the yeast-salt-water mixture into it. Mix together the wet and dry ingredients until it forms a smooth dough. (I used my hands) This step doesn’t work well in electric mixers. The dough is so different from loaf dough. Trust me. I tested it out, and it’s a no-go. Soon you should have a lovely smooth textured ball of dough.
Oil a large bowl and place the dough inside to rise. Cover with a slightly damp tea towel. Let dough rise until double (approx. an hour).
Now you will have a risen mound of dough twice the size as before. Punch down the dough and separate it into six equal parts. (I use a pizza cutter to do this. It works great!) Lightly flour your surface so the dough doesn’t stick too much.
Place six dough balls into a tray or baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel and let it rise till double again! Are we having fun yet? Look at those cute little doughy guys. Mmmm. At this point you will place your pizza stone in the oven and preheat your oven to the highest temperature it can go. (crazy huh?) You can use a metal pizza tray too, it just doesn’t have as authentic of a flavor as a stone. Your oven needs to preheat for an hour before you put the pizzas in there. So make sure to preheat!!
When you have all your toppings ready pick your favorite ball of dough and start with him. Use your floured hands to stretch the dough. It should be pretty thin and slightly thicker around the edge to have a crust. Transfer the dough onto your stone. (Careful its HOT!!) Put your desired sauce and toppings on and get that baby into your oven.
Fan forced- put stone on any rack
Electric- stone on bottom rack
Gas- middle rack
These pizzas take anywhere from 5-15 minutes to cook depending on how thick your dough is… You will just have to gauge the time on the first one and go from there.
I tried several different types of pizza toppings with just what I had on hand. There wasn’t a ton of planning before we got started. But my favorite was the margherita style pizza with home made sauce, balsamic reduction, mozzarella cheese and basil. The great thing about these pizzas is you can get creative and make them just to your preference! Here are a few pictures of our pizza adventures.