Monday, October 10, 2011

I may never pay for pizza again.

In keeping with my currently unemployed status, ordering pizza is not in the budget.  However there are some cravings which WILL NOT BE DENIED.

So I figured what the hell, I'll give it a shot.  I used the pizza dough recipe from Betty Crocker with a couple modifications.

If you want to make your own, I can recommend it. :)

2-1/2 to 3 cups all purpose flour,
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 package quick active dry yeast
3 Tablespoons virgin olive oil
1 Cup very warm water (120 - 130 degrees)

Mix 1 cup of the flour, the sugar, salt, and yeast into a large bowl.  Add the 3 T olive oil and warm water, and beat with electric mixer on medium speed for 3 minutes, scraping frequently. (I used my kitchen-aid beater attachment for 3 minutes on 4.)  Stir in enough remaining flour until dough is soft and leaves the side of the bowl. (I swapped to the paddle attachment, and added flour in a 1/2 cup at a time.  So far, I've always ended up using the full 3 cups of flour, when I use this recipe, so I wouldn't worry too much about measuring exactly.

Now here, the recipe book says to move the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead 5-8 minutes.  What I do instead is flour my hands, lift the dough out of the bowl, dust the bowl inside, and knead the dough inside the bowl. (Just lift it up, punch into the dough, then fold the far side back over the hole, turn 90 degrees, repeat, flouring whenever the dough gets sticky again.) Saves having to clean flour off the counter.  You can also use the dough hook attachment, which works just as well, but I felt like punching something. :)

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest 30 minutes.  The one shown above is a thin crust, (which isn't a true cracker-thin thin crust but is very close to Papa John's hand-tossed crust.).  I greased a cookie sheet with olive oil, and then took half the dough. I pulled the dough out into a wide roughly circular shape, until the whole thing was 1/8" to 1/4" thick.  Use your fingers to push the dough around, and it works marvelously.

Instead of baking the pizza at 425, I baked it for 8 minutes at 450, (it started turning light brown in the center.)  Higher heat makes it crispier.  Then I smeared a thin coat of Bertolli spaghetti sauce, sprinkled dried garlic and parsley, Italian herb blend, and dried basil on top.  Next went the cheese (pre-shredded 5-cheese Italian), black olives (from a can), mushrooms (fresh sliced), and the pepperoni. 

I put it back in the oven at 425 for 10 minutes or so. (Look at it.  The crust should be light brown all over, the cheese maybe brown on the edges)

And I have satisfied my pizza craving.  If you want thick crust pizza, use the same recipe, but grease and cornmeal-flour your pans.  Pat the dough into the pans, and let rise for 30 -45 minutes.  Bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until the crust starts turning brown.
599 words tonight.  It's amazing how sticky spots can get me bogged down for a week while I think about how to get around them without excessive deux ex machina.  My dad once told me that he worked a project over in his head until he could sit down and build whatever it was once.  He'd sit there at his desk at work, smoking and thinking, and he'd sit in his chair at home in front of the t.v., thinking. (Not smoking, because my mother made him swear to not smoke at home or in front of the kids.  She was concerned that we would pick the habit up.  Strangely, the boys knew he smoked and they have both struggled off and on with nicotine addiction.  I didn't know he smoked until I went to college, and I never picked up a cigarette.  Go figure.)

I realize now what that's like, because I do that with my writing.  I'll get to a point where I get stuck, and I'll stop writing, and instead I'll think. I'll run through all the different scenarios I can think of, playing them out to see if they run me into a wall I can't get around.  I'll be washing dishes and thinking about times and alibis.  I'll go a week without writing anything at all, because I can't progress until I know where I'm going.  If it's a really bad break, one that seems irreconcilable, sometimes it'll be a month.  And then, something will click, and I'll know where I'm going again, and I can pick up and go. 

This one was a bad one.  I'm so glad to be past it.