For years I tried to suppress my love for pizza, but by my third pregnancy, there was no denying it: it was the only food I craved. Despite my infatuation, there were nutritional obstacles. I always felt yucky (a medical term) after I ate it. But when I started making it at home, I found a solution.
I could control what went into the pizza allowing me to enjoy it while eating it and still feel ok when finished.
I have dedicated more time than I care to admit to finding my perfect pizza. The toppings were easy. I have my favorite organic pizza sauce (with a decent sugar count – Muir Valley), organic cheese (Horizon is the option at my grocery) plus goat cheese and vegetables (green peppers and olives are our favorites and two on which we can agree. Sometimes we add tomatoes, onions or any other vegetables left-over in the fridge.) But I struggled with the dough. My first attempt, years ago, to make it on my own was a disaster (this sounds dramatic, but it was all hands on deck in the kitchen and completely inedible.) I tried different grocers’ options and even, when desperate, would pick-up the packaged option at the grocery. But this defeated my purpose of making at home pizza. I could taste the processed-ness of it and felt guilty eating it. I knew I needed to be making it. With the memory of the disaster faded by time, I decided to try again. I found this recipe: Simple Pizza Dough. A little unsure of myself after the epic failure 5 years ago, I was surprised when my husband gobbled it all down. Gobbling, to the point that I had to stake my claim to the remaining pieces.
This was not only good but easy. And I didn’t feel guilty feeding my kids (or myself) pizza.
Here are the take-aways:
- Preparation Notes: After mixing the yeast, mine did not “foam”, but it still came out ok.
- Ingredient substitutions:
- I used whole wheat flour. I kept the portions the same and did not have any problems.
- The recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of sugar, I used a teaspoon.
- Serving Yield: After letting the dough rise, I punched the dough (it was not as dramatic as it sounds, it was more of a love tap) and then split it in half. I used one half to make a pizza for that night. It was plenty for me and my husband to have 3 pieces each and one each for the two children old enough to eat real food. The other half, I rolled into a ball, wrapped in saran wrap, put in a ziploc bag and placed in the freezer.
- When using the frozen ball a week later, I forgot to thaw it. So I threw it in the microwave to defrost. I was a little nervous about this, but it turned out fine. I did flour the pizza stone (or surface being used) to help with the rolling.
- Dough Depth: Get the dough thin. If subbing whole wheat flour this is especially important to ensure it cooks all the way through. I have tried to do this with and without (we were moving – items were packed in boxes) a rolling pin. It is possible to do with out a rolling pin, just not as fun or pretty.
- Ingredient Order: Dough, then sauce, then toppings, then cheese. Sounds obvious, but we even played with this sequence.
- Cooking Temp: one reader comment suggested 500 for 10 minutes. I did this for the first pizza. Too hot for my old oven and even when I pulled it out after 9 minutes it was a little burnt. For subsequent pizzas I did 400 at 9 minutes and that was pretty perfect for my old oven (I think that one ran hot.) Then we moved into our new house and 9 minutes at 400 was not enough time. The moral: know your oven and monitor your pizza (and your preference) to get it just right.
- The Tools Matter
- Rolling Pin: it just makes life easier and helps the pizza look like a pizza.
- Pizza stone: this dough has finally inspired me to purchase one. Prior to the pizza stone, we employed some pretty creative methods to get it in the oven without one. So it is possible, just more work than needed. And now that we have one, I do not know why we waited so long to add it to our kitchen artillery.