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Saturday, June 18, 2011

It's pizza night tonight!!

We've started a bit of a tradition in this house. Every Saturday night is family pizza night. It even has it's own song...it's pizza night tonight, it's pizza night tonight, it's pizza night TONIGHT, it's pizza night tonight...etc, etc. If you've ever seen that great Australian movie, The Castle, it's very similar to the Bonnie Doon song...monotonous and repetitious...drives Chanin up the wall.

Anyway, we started making pizza's using packaged pizza dough mix. We usually used 2 packets and made the pizzas rectangular. Since the arrival of the bread maker, we've been making our own with varied results. I believe I've almost got it down to a science now. What I'm going to try next week is cold proofing. That's when you make the dough the day before, when it's finished mixing, form it into a ball, place it in a greased container with a lid and bung it in the fridge. From what I've read, it vastly improves the taste of the dough...dunno, but I'm going to give it a whirl.

Just like my bread, I use the recipe in the bread machine manual, but I've reconfigured it to make 2 pounds of dough. That gives us 2 pizzas with a good crust...not too thin and not too thick.

1 1/3 cups water (room temperature)
1 1/4 teaspoons salt - again, I use Kosher not table
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
Now for the weird part:
3 3/4 cups plus 3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons bread flour - it's easier to make it 4 cups and take 2 teaspoons out.
2 3/4 teaspoons yeast

I should note that when you do the flour, DO NOT just scoop the flour out of the container. Instead, either pour it out of the container or scoop it into something then put it in your measure. Apparently, if you scoop it out with your measure, it compacts and could add at least 1 tablespoon extra of the product. Not good when baking, as from what little I know, baking usually needs precision.

I normally run this on the dough cycle. When it does the first rise then punches down, I take it out of the machine, divide it in half, form the dough in balls by shaping them with my hands (not rolling them around on the bench) and place them into oiled mixing bowls to proof. As I mentioned above, I'm going to try making the dough a day in advance and see if it makes any difference to me.

You'll want to pre-heat your oven to 500F (260C) right as you do the next step. If you have a pizza stone, I do and can't recommend one enough, put it in the oven now on the lowest shelf. You'll need the hour while the dough rests to get to the temperature properly.


Depending how you make the dough, (if it's straight away, let it sit in the bowl, covered with plastic wrap for at least an hour, alternatively, if you make it the day before and cold proof, take it out of the fridge an hour before you want to use it.) put it onto a lightly floured bench and roll it out to what ever size you want. If you don't have a pizza peel you may have to roll it onto a pizza tray or form it in a cookie sheet. As an aside, the absolute best pizza peel I have found (and bought) is this http://www.superpeel.com/ I tried an aluminium pizza peel that just did not work for me at all. This one is the goods, super easy to use and clean...as Molly would have said, do yourself a favour!

Once you have it rolled out, if you like thin crust pizza, you'll need to dock your dough. Basically that means to use either a fork or a pizza docker (looks like a very small rolling pin with spikes on it with one handle) to prick holes in the dough, so that the air escapes and will not allow it to rise when cooked. We've tried with and without docking and prefer without.

Spoon on your pizza sauce and top with whatever you like. I make my own pizza sauce which I adapted from a recipe from my all time favourite cook, Margaret Fulton. I use canned tomato products instead of fresh because I like the sauce a bit thinner, not chunky.


1 large can tomato puree or sauce, whatever they call it (about 750g)
1 can diced tomatoes (about 410g)
2 cloves garlic crushed
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil (or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh)
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon brown sugar - this is where we differ, we like our sauce sweeter so we add a lot more brown sugar.
salt and freshly ground black pepper.


Put it all into a saucepan and simmer gently for about 40 minutes. Remove bay leaf and let cool before using.

This makes enough for about 6 pizzas, depending on how much sauce you put on. It freezes well, so put the leftovers in containers and freeze it. I put it in small containers, so I have individual servings.


OK, top your pizza with whatever you like. We make one cheese pizza for Connor and my father-in-law, Senior, and one for ourselves. Cheese, diced ham, marinated artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, green capsicum (bell pepper), fresh garlic and a bit more cheese.

Slide your pizza into the oven, either on your tray or pizza stone and cook it for at least 12 minutes. The time varies a little bit, but you'll have to experiment to see what works for you.

Here's the finished cheese pizza.




Our pizza before going into the oven.




Out of the oven.



Slices of each.





The Connor seal of approval. 




Matt








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