While I’ve only recently begun baking, BreadBaking Day is fast approaching its two year anniversary! BBD#21 celebrates pizza which, in my mind, is THE quintessential American food. When it comes to pizza the possibilities are quite literally endless. We’ve strayed far and wide from the simple pizza napoletana with its buffalon mozzarella, San Marzano tomatoes, basil and extra-virgin olive oil. Now there is Chicago-style deep dish pizza with the sauce on top, New York style with its floppy slices, California-style with its gourmet toppings such as artichoke hearts, and on and on. Every area has its own take.
According to Odd Info, 82% of children list pizza as their favorite food and the average American family spends $411.52 on pizza each year. Personally I’m not even sure that those figures include college students! AIB International reports that Americans bought 662,601,614 pizzas from just the top ten frozen pizza manufacturers in 2007. That number doesn’t include delivery pizza. An article in the Ann Arbor Biz News quoted Domino’s as reporting a net income of $23.8 MILLION dollars for the first quarter of this year. Folks, that’s a lot of pizza, and a lot of it is BAD pizza.
Homemade pizza is simple, and compared to delivery pizza it is actually quite affordable after the initial investment for a good pizza pan or pizza stone. Which you’ll need will of course depend upon what kind of pizza you want to make, be it thin crust, hand tossed, deep dish or Chicago style. Once you have your pan a pizza made with high-quality ingredients can cost you as little as $5!
Now, my own personal favorite is what is known as a Roman crust. This is a super-thin, crisp crust. Unlike Papa John’s or Pizza Hut there is no added grease or oil, and so it is significantly healthier as well as better. The recipe I use comes from Peter Reinhart’s “American Pie” on page 110.
5C (22.25 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
.5C (1oz) semolina flour
3.25t Kosher salt OR 1.75t regular table salt
1t instant yeast
1.75C+2T cool water
The directions are very simple:
Mix all ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer, using the dough hook, until combined, about 4 minutes.
Let dough rest 5 minutes.
Knead on for an additional 2 minutes or until the dough forms a good ball and clears the bowl.
If you’re doing this by hand, combine the ingredients with a large spoon, dough whisk, or your hands and then knead for an additional 2-3 minutes after the five minute rest.
Form the dough into a ball, set it in an oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cove the bowl and it to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, or for a full 2 hours if you’ll be making pizza that night. At the end of 30 minutes put the entire bowl in the refrigerator overnight.
The next day take the dough out about 2 hours before you want to make pizza. Divide the dough into six equal portions and wrap any that you will not be using in plastic wrap and place in a freezer bag. Place the extra in the freezer. To use frozen dough, take it out of the freezer the night before and allow it to thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Remove the dough balls from the refrigerator 1-2 hours prior to use. Frozen dough will be good for up to 3 months, so you can make a big batch of dough balls to save time.
Roll your portion of dough into a round ball and then flatten with your hands into a disc. Gently stretch it as thin as you can, just short of tearing. Start at the center and work your way out to the edges. If the dough springs back, allow it to rest for five minutes and try again. This is not dough you can “toss” and rolling with a rolling pin doesn’t offer much success, either. I have found that the best technique is to hold it up and turn, letting gravity do the work. Once it is almost as big as I think I can get it I lay it on an un-oiled, non-stick perforated pizza pan and then work the edges out.
Topping Your Roman Dough
Being such a thin crust, the Roman-style pizza dough can’t handle a lot of liquid. I make my pizza sauce with tomato sauce that I have reduced by a long simmering. I put in a lot of freshly minced garlic, and fresh pistou basil and oregano from my herb garden. Dry, shredded mozzarella works better than the fresh. The dough also cooks very quickly – in under 10 minutes at about 450F, so toppings should be kept small and thin for even cooking. Rather than purchasing my pepperoni in bags I stop by the deli and get large rounds that have been cut paper thin which helps cut down on the grease and allows the pepperoni to get crisp in the short amount of time that the pizza will cook.
I couldn’t tell you how this is left over as we never have any! Each recipe of Roman Pizza Dough makes six roughly 14″ pizzas.
(Per dough ball):
Calories: 402, Fat: 2g, Carbohydrate: 80g, Fiber: 3g
In addition to Bread Baking Day #21, I’m submitting this yeasty-but-flat bit of crunchy goodness over to Wild Yeast for the weekly Yeastspotting roundup.