Hand Crafted Pizza

Hand Crafted Pizza

I’ve made hundreds of pizzas from scratch. Every Friday night for years. So many pizzas, my kids were sick of them. Lately I have been trying a new method for the dough. Here’s how it goes:

There are basically three ingredients for pizza dough, or for any dough, and they are flour, yeast and water.  There are two parts to this new method: First, make sure that the weight of the water is about .75 of the weight of the dry ingredients. Second, mix the dry and wet ingredients and let stand for 8-9 hours without any kneading of the dough. With this method you can mix the dough in about 10 minutes or less.

Ok, so what is the recipe?  Well, there isn’t any.  It goes like this:  Start with some good flour. I use King Arthur Unbleached, which I can get right here at Food City in Gatlinburg. But you can use whole wheat, or a combination of white and whole wheat, or whatever. And you can toss in something extra, like wheat bran, or nutritional yeast, or any secret dry ingredient you want to try. For a regular size pizza, somewhere around 13 grams of dry ingredients is about right. Oh, you’ll need a kitchen scale to weigh the ingredients. For the yeast, I use about a quarter teaspoon of instant yeast.

So, we have a bowl on the scale with the weight zeroed out, and we put in something like 3 cups of flour, the yeast, and anything else that we want to add. We note the weight of this dry mixture, and then we zero out the scale again.  Multiply the dry weight by .75, and add that much water.  I also usually add a shot of olive oil to the water. And one more thing … try to use spring water, as the chlorine in tap water is hard on the yeast.

After you mix this all up (no kneading!), seal the bowl with a plastic wrap so the dough doesn’t get dry, and let it stand for 8-9 hours. Best workflow is to quickly mix the dough at breakfast time, and it will be ready for supper.

When you get back to the bowl of dough, it will be moist and sticky. That’s ok, it’s meant to be that way. Turn it out onto a well-floured board or counter-top, and work it towards the round pizza shape, dusting with flour to keep it from sticking. Press it, spin it in the air, roll it with a roller, whatever. Put it on your pizza pan, roll up the edges, and it’s ready for the topping.

For the topping, there’s a universe of possibilities. No need to get special pizza sauce, anything with a tomato base is ok. Maybe a can of diced chipotle tomatoes, or some other flavor that you like. I usually saute some garlic in olive oil and thyme before pouring the can of tomato in the pan.  The cheese also can be whatever you decide. I tend to go for those bags of pre-shredded Italian cheese mixture, just to make it quick and easy. And of course the additional toppings are endless. But putting something on the cheese, like the sweet red peppers in the picture above will help the cheese from getting burned as the dough bakes. Olives work as well.

When it’s all assembled, into a 450 degree oven it goes for somewhere around 12 minutes. You need the hot oven to quickly bake the dough. Usually the issue here is to get the dough baked without burning the cheese. So for the last minutes watch it closely through the oven window. Leave it in there until the cheese gets a browning to it, otherwise the dough might not be done.

The pizza crust with this method is incredibly light and tasty, and letting the yeast work for so long makes for a sweeter tasting crust.

Please stop in and visit me for all your pizza concerns and to see the complete display of Smoky Mountain Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

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