It's become a Friday night tradition in the Ayers' house... homemade pizza. First is the recipe for the crust, and below are some tips for how I’ve tweaked the recipe to make it work for me. And below that I have a list of super yummy toppings.
New York Style Pizza Crust
1 pkg (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
1 pkg (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
1 c. warm water
3 ¼ c. all-purpose flour
¾ t. salt
Olive oil for greasing the bowl.
Slowly add yeast to water, mixing thoroughly, until yeast dissolves. Set aside in a warm area for approximately 5 minutes, until yeast begins to form.
Combine flour and salt. Mix slightly in an electric mixer with a dough hook or in a food processor with a steel blade or by hand with a wooden spoon. Add yeast mixture and mix in an electric mixer for approximately 3 minutes or in a processor for 5 to 10 seconds or by hand for 3 to 5 minutes, until a smooth dough is formed.
Working on a lightly floured surface, knead dough by pressing heels of hand into dough and pushing away, Rotate dough one-quarter turn and repeat processing and pushing with heels of the hand, occasionally folding dough onto itself as it is kneaded. It dough feels sticky, sprinkle flour, a teaspoonful or two at a time, into dough. Continue kneading until dough is smooth.
Place dough into a bowl greased with olive oil, turning dough until entire surface is covered with oil. Cover with a light cloth and put bowl in a warm draft-free place. Let dough rise until it doubles in size, about 1 hour. To test if dough has doubled, lightly and quickly press two finger tips ½ inch down into the dough. If the indentation from the finger tips remains, dough has doubled in size.
Punch down dough by placing fist into center of the dough and then pulling edges of the dough into the center and turning over.
Let dough sit for 5 minutes and then knead for 1 to 2 minutes on a lightly floured surface.
Divide dough in half and roll out each half into a circle 12 inches in diameter.
I know this sounds like a lot of work, but here’s what I do, and it’s not bad at all.
· To dissolve the yeast in the water, I usually add the packet of yeast to a 1 cup measure, add a little bit of warm water, mix with a spoon or small whisk, and then add more water to measure 1 cup.
· You can use appliances to mix the ingredients, but I usually just use my hands. The dough hook on the kitchen aid would probably work pretty good. I might try that the next time.
· During the first kneading, just work the dough until it is nice and smooth, this dough is very forgiving, so don’t worry too much about how long you’ve been working it. When it’s a smooth ball, you’re done.
· Don’t be afraid to add a little more flour if the dough is wet, or water if it’s dry in order to get the nice smooth ball of dough.
· For a warm, draft-free place, I put the bowl in front of the EdenPure… works great. Another trick, is to preheat your oven to 200 degrees, put the dough in an oven safe bowl, cover, place in the oven, and then turn the heat off.
· I just eye-ball the size of it when it’s rising, I don’t worry about whether or not it’s doubled in size… if the bowl is full, it’s time to move onto the next step.
· I don’t knead it the second time – I just punch it down, divide it, and spread it out on the pizza stone.
· One recipe will give you 2 thin crust pizzas or 1 thick crust pizza on a Pampered Chef pizza stone.
· I cook the crust slightly before I add the sauce and toppings. This way I make sure the middle is cooked without overcooking the top.
o For a thin crust pizza, cook at 425 for 7-8 minutes, add toppings and then bake an additional 8-10 minutes longer.
o For a thick crust pizza, cook at 375 for 15-20 minutes, add toppings and then bake another 20-25 minutes longer.
· When you take the pizza out of the oven, it’s best to let it sit for 5-10 minutes before serving – the toppings set and it’s a lot easier to cut and serve.
Toppings… first there is always the classic cheese and pepperoni. Now, I’m sure there are a lot of you out there that don’t care for mushrooms, but please trust me on this one. Saute some fresh mushrooms in olive oil, just until tender. Spread over the pizza, and then add some fresh ground pepper to each of the mushrooms. And my personal favorite is diced roasted red peppers, slices of fresh tomatoes, and pesto. Be creative, try something new. And leave a comment if you find a good combination, so the rest of us can try it!