Who wants pizza?

One of our staple freezer meals is pizza but I always hate the feeling of dying of thirst afterwards, not to mention the fact that you are limited to the few standard options for toppings that are available at your store’s freezer section. The other night I decided to go for it and make my own pizza dough. Not being one to really like planning ahead, waiting for up to a day for the dough to rise, as many recipes call for just isn’t an option for me. But I found a recipe by Giada De Laurentiis on www.foodnetwork.com that only requires a total of 3 hours of rising time. Now that I can handle. So it was actually in the afternoon that I decided to go for it, to have pizza for dinner.

For my hubs I made the typical onion and pepperoni. For myself I made something that I’ve been craving lately. A mix of toppings that my cousin and I would make weekly one particular summer in our teens: tuna, onion, and pineapple. A sort of variation on the Hawaiian, I suppose. For the tomato sauce I just used a store brand can of crushed tomato. I’m not a big fan of the prepared pizza sauces. They tend to be too salty and otherwise over seasoned. The plain crushed tomato has a clean bright taste that doesn’t distract from the other toppings. For cheese I used shredded mozzarella. The crust came out fairly thin but still chewy and not too dry or crunchy. The hubs gave his pizza a big thumbs up and actually devoured the entire 13 inch pie! I was very happy with mine and suffered major pregnancy related heartburn that night because I ate way too much. Missy was already in bed, so she got her pizza for lunch the next day.

I must say I was quite amazed when I was rolling out the dough and topping Missy’s lunch pizza. She also got a variation of the Hawaiian, with turkey breast instead of ham, and finely diced onions. For the half hour or so that it took to roll, top and bake the pizza, she was dancing around the kitchen singing, “Pizza, pizza, pizza!” It’s not like she gets pizza all the time. She’s had it maybe once before. I really couldn’t understand how she knew to be so excited about it. She even ran off to grab her baby doll and pressed the doll’s face into the oven window! With all that anticipation I was actually nervous when it was ready. What if she didn’t like it? Then what? Thankfully I didn’t have to find out because she devoured her slice and even nibbled on the edges of a second slice. In fact she was so enamored of the pizza that at dinner time, she started up her pizza song and dance again and I thought for a moment that she’d refuse to eat her fish sticks and veggie sticks (yeah, momma doesn’t cook for every meal). Thankfully though she did eat her dinner.

Even though making the pizza dough was quite a bit of work, since it makes enough for three 13 inch pizzas (or two larger ones) you could easily feed a family of three or four with one pizza and some sides and with the same effort make enough dough for two or three meals. Considering the pizza dough probably cost $2 at the most (it’s just flour, water, and yeast after all), it also makes for a super economical meal. Even your toppings won’t add that much to the cost. The recipe doesn’t mention anything about freezing, but I’m assuming you can put a ball of dough in a freezer bag and pop it in the freezer if you don’t intend to use it all right away.

Here is the pizza dough recipe and directions for baking.

Pizza Dough

Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

Prep Time:

15 min

Inactive Prep Time:

3 hr 0 min

Cook Time:

Level:

Intermediate

Serves:

3 (13-ounce) balls of dough

Ingredients

· 1 1/2 cups warm water, 100 to 110 degrees F, plus extra as needed

· 1 (1/4-ounce) packet active dry yeast

· 5 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra as needed

· 1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt

· Olive oil, for drizzling

Directions

Put the water in a small bowl. Add the yeast and stir until dissolved.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour and salt together. Add the yeast mixture and stir until a soft dough forms. If the dough is too dry, add a little extra water, 1 tablespoon at a time. If the dough is too sticky, add extra flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface. With floured hands, knead the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic, about 10 to 12 minutes. Drizzle the inside of a clean bowl with olive oil. Put the dough in the bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel. Set the bowl in a warm, draft-free place, until the dough has doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Using a fist, deflate the dough in the center and cut it into 3 equal-sized pieces. Form the dough pieces into 3 balls and put into 3 oiled bowls. Cover each bowl loosely with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and let rest for 1 hour. Remove the dough and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for up to 1 day.

I needed longer than the 10-12 minutes the recipe states for kneading the dough but then the recipe I scribbled down months ago said to use 4 cups of flour and 1 cup of water. I did end up adding several table spoons of water to make the dough smooth and elastic and it took quite a bit of kneading (maybe 20 minutes). I also added 1 tsp of sugar as food for the yeast to make sure the dough would rise. Here is a link to the recipe as well as a video of Giada making it.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/pizza-dough-recipe/index.html

http://www.foodnetwork.com/videos/pizza-dough/53151.html

Now you would think that the logical next steps in the directions would be rolling out the dough, topping it and baking it, but you need to search for a pizza recipe (as opposed to a pizza dough recipe) to get those steps. Giada has a recipe for a Caramelized onion, sausage and basil pizza that seemingly uses the same pizza dough. I haven’t tried it, but it sounds tasty. Here is the link for the complete recipe if you want to try it: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/caramelized-onion-sausage-and-basil-pizza-recipe/index.html

I have copied the relevant parts of getting the dough ready for toppings and baking it below. The way I see it, once you have the basic instructions, you can use whatever toppings you like, which is what I did for our pizza.

Ingredients

· Cornmeal, for dusting

· Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

· All-purpose flour, for dusting

Directions

Put an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. Sprinkle a heavy baking sheet (without sides) with cornmeal and set aside.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 13-inch diameter circle, about 1/4-inch thick. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil (supposedly this prevents the crust from getting soggy from the toppings). Spread the [toppings] evenly over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border. Sprinkle the cheese on top. Bake until the crust is golden and the cheese has melted, about 15 to 17 minutes. Remove from the oven. Cut the pizza into wedges and serve.

Quite simple really. I feel like I can tackle other dough recipes now. And I have to say there is something quite rewarding about having your hands covered in flour and seeing these simple ingredients come together as a dough.

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