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Sunday, September 19, 2010

HOMEMADE PIZZA

Cooking Homemade Pizza is a labor of love, but if you are craving for a Pizza that is so customized to your taste, this fits the bill. The Pizza base dough and Sauce can be made ahead & stored. Pre-preparation is the key here so whenever you find the time alongside everyday cooking, make the dough and the sauce ...

RECIPE MAKES TWO 12" PIZZAS

For proofing the yeast

1.5 cups warm water (between 110-115 F)
1 tablespoon Instant Active Dry Yeast
1 tablespoon sugar or honey

Flour

2.25 cups All-purpose flour (Maida)
1.25 cups Bread flour

Other additions

1 tablespoon oil (olive or regular)
1/2 tablespoon salt
Any other flavor you wish to add in the dough (Italian seasoning, garlic or onion powder)


1. Add yeast to warm water (temperature should be between 110-115 F for the yeast to froth well) Mix the yeast & water thoroughly in a big bowl, sprinkle 1 tablespoon sugar or honey on it & let it froth for 10 minutes. Soak the yeast in a big size bowl as we will be adding flour to the same bowl a little later.

If the yeast does not froth for some reason, throw this water & try again - this is the first & foremost step for a softer pizza base.

2. After yeast frothing is done, add the other additions as mentioned above in the yeast bowl & mix all the wet ingredients well.

If you have an electric hand mixer or egg beater, blend this mixture well on high speed so yeast mixes well with other ingredients. This will reduce kneading time later.

3. Start adding the flour after all wet ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Keep a 1/4th size cup in the flour. Add 1/4th cup flour alternating All purpose flour & Bread flour each time & keep stirring the mixture with a fork till the dough starts forming in the bowl.

If you are using an electric hand mixer or egg beater, keep mixing on low speed (to avoid flour to fly all over) till half the flour has blended with the wet mixture.

4. After sometime, it will be difficult to mix the flour with the fork or an electric mixer as dough has started to form.

5. Remove the dough on a clean work surface & start kneading the dough with all the flour incorporated. Knead for about 10 minutes. The dough should not be very sticky but a well formed ball at the end of 10 minutes.

If flour is sticky add very little flour on work surface & apply little flour on your hands & keep kneading.

When gluten formation starts happening after 10 minutes, form a smooth round ball pinching all the uneven edges downwards as best as you can.

6. When kneading is done, apply oil all over in a big bowl, drop the dough in this bowl & turn it all over so dough is coated all over with oil & does not dry while rising.

7. Let the dough rise for 45 mins - 1 hour till it has doubled in size.

8. At the end of rising time, punch all the air out of the dough, knead the dough again & divide in 2 parts. Again knead each part separately & form a smooth round ball as done earlier.

Repeat for both parts of the dough, apply oil, cover again & let it rise for another 30-45 minutes.

After the second rise, if you wish make one 12" pizza, you can freeze the additional dough in a ziploc plastic bag after removing all the air out of the bag & coating the dough with oil. This dough can later be thawed to room temperature and rolled into a Pizza.

9. Set oven to preheat at 475 F at this time. Grease a 12" Pizza baking plate or sprinkle some cornmeal on the baking plate or Pizza stone. Commercially, a pizza stone is used to bake pizzas as the stone absorbs a lot of heat while preheating - once pizza is placed on the stone to bake, the heat is transferred to the pizza base cooking the pizza extremely well.

Punch out all the air out of 1 dough ball, knead lightly & let it rest for 5-10 minutes. Place this dough ball on a clean work surface & start shaping rolling a 12" pizza with the help of some dry flour.

If you like slightly thick edges, roll & slightly fold in the edges to make them thicker than the rest of the pizza.

10. Place the rolled pizza on the baking plate. Spread the pizza sauce over it (recipe is given below)- only 1 light layer as too much sauce will make the base soggy.

Sprinkle favorite toppings

SAY CHEESE PIZZA - Mozarella cheese is extensively used for pizza topping - if you wish to make a 3 cheese topping pizza, you can mix mozarella, cheddar & pepper jack or parmesan cheese.

GARDEN VEGGIE PIZZA - Thin sliced jalapeno pepper slices, onion, capsicum (bell peppers) of different colors, mushrooms, olives.

HAWAIIN PIZZA - Top with thin sliced Pineapple

PIZZA MARGHERITA - Fresh basil, thin sliced tomato slices, mozarella & parmesan cheese

THE ARLINGTON PIZZA - Spinach, thin sliced tomatoes, mushrooms, feta cheese, onions & olives

WHITE PIZZA - Fresh garlic thin sliced, oregano & extra cheese

If you are using the Pizza stone, make the entire pizza upto this stage, then place it in the oven directly on the pizza stone.

11. Place the baking tray in the oven, bake at 475 F for 10-12 minutes till cheese melts & crust is golden brown.

12. Remove out of the oven, let it cool for 5 minutes, cut with a pizza cutter & serve hot.


PIZZA SAUCE - for TWO 12" PIZZAS

8 Tomatoes diced
1 tablespoon oil
12-15 cloves garlic crushed to a paste (optional)
2 tsps sugar
1 tsp basil leaves, 1 tsp oregano leaves (OR Italian seasoning to taste)
1 tsp pepper
salt to taste

Heat oil in a pan & add garlic paste when oil is hot. Let garlic sizzle.

Then add tomatoes & all the other spices mentioned above. On medium high heat, let sauce simmer for 10-15 minutes till slightly thick. This sauce thickens as it cools so dont overboil.

Apply on pizza after sauce is completely cold.

This is enough to top 2 12" pizzas - so if you wish to make 1 pizza, you can freeze half the sauce for later use.

Prepare & enjoy !!!

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