How to Make Pizza!

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Pizza = Good

Everyone has a good idea of how they would make their favorite food if they had the desire to try. The great thing about pizza is that you can try different things, and it will almost always come out tasty. The best way to start is to go around the internet mixing and matching different recipes until you come to something you would like to try. This article will allow me to organize my experiments. As I get closer to cheesy perfection, I will update the recipes and pictures to reflect my progress! The recipe below will make two 16" thin-crust pizzas.

Ingredients:

Dough:

Sauce:

Toppings:

  • 4 2/3 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 1/3 tblsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp dry yeast
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/3 tsp salt
  • 2 cup tomato sauce
  • half an onion, chopped
  • 1/2 head garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 2 tblsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 lb any cheese
  • Pepperoni
  • Green Bell Pepper
  • Onion
  • Black Olives
  • Anything!

Kneeing the Doughboy

The crust of a pizza is the canvas on which you will make your masterpiece. It's also the only part of making pizza that can really result in a bad meal. If you add too much flour, you'll have bitter crust. Not enough water, and you won't be able to mold the dough. The only real danger of this happening is if you double one ingredient without increasing the others, which is crazy! Control yourself.


Mix the Yeast The yeast, it's alive!!! Mix it all

First, put the yeast into a bowl with 1 cup of warm water (save the remaining 1/2 cup). Let the yeast grow for about 15 minutes. Come back and put all of the dough ingredients (including the yeast mixture and the final 1/2 cup of water) into a mixer with a dough hook. Mix it together until the flour gets fully worked in. Note that at some point the mixer may have a hard time turning as the dough starts to form. If that happens, just pour the mixture on a cutting board and mix it together by hand. You won't need to knead the dough. Your goal is to make it into a single sphere.

Place the dough in a bowl coated with butter or oil (to prevent sticking). Place seran wrap over the top of the bowl, and put it in the fridge. It needs at least 18 hours to rise, we try to let it rise for a full 24 hours. The dough will not rise that much, it may grow to 2-2.5 times the size it was when you placed it in the bowl.


Let it rise.

Approximately 90 minutes before you are ready to eat, take the dough out of the bowl and partition it into two equal halves. Use flour to coat your hands, the rolling pin, and the cutting board as you need it to prevent the dough from sticking. You want to roll the dough out from a sphere (or half sphere at this point) into disks about 6" in diameter, and 1" thick. By letting these sit out for about an hour, they will rise a little more and will be easier to roll out into larger circles later. Preheat the oven to 500°F after about 45 minutes. While you are waiting for the dough to rise, and the oven to heat, you can be making the sauce and getting the toppings ready. But this section is about the dough, so I stay focused!

After the disks have risen for an hour, put some corn meal on the pizza pans, and roll the disks out to the full 16". It will take some patience and practice to make circles. I will now give instructions on how to achieve success and start rolling in the dough. Start with the rolling pin held horizontally in front of you, and place it on the imaginary line that also goes horizontally from the center of the disk in front of you. Push down and roll forward and backward. As you do this, it will get low in the center, and dough will clump on the top and bottom. Before those clumps get too large, rotate the disk 90° to the left, and do the same thing. The dough is now getting thin on another line, and the clumps are forming on new sides! Continue doing this until the circle is about 12" in diameter. Transfer it to the pizza pan (which is dusted with corn meal). On the pizza pan your strategy changes. Roll any dough that is in the center to the closest edge that doesn't already have an excess of dough. Roll any edges with excess dough to other edges which could use more. Whatever you do, don't pull! You may create holes in your dough. Just keep working with the roller, and eventually you should have a smooth valley crust with a doughy lip around the edge. Congratulations, you have successfully diversified, and you are well on your way to a cheese-rich future!


Making disks Dock the dough Bake dough without toppings first

The last step is to take a fork and stab the dough about once every inch, including the edges!! Easy Ichi, don't go wildly slashing, making holes in the dough you just rolled out. Once an inch should be plenty, but if you see a smooth spot in the dough that is looking at you funny, well, you know what it deserves. This process will prevent air bubbles from forming as you bake the dough. The true last step before you put on the sauce is to bake your dough, with no toppings for about 5 minutes.

More sauce, better time

Sauté all of the sauce ingredients above, except for the tomato sauce, until the onions turn clear. Then pour in the sauce and sauté for another 15 min. As it starts to heat up, air, trapped under the sauce, will release, causing the flavor to mix even more.


The sauce. Starting to come together.

Once the sauce is done, and once you take the bare crust out of the oven (after cooking it for 5 min), pour as much sauce as you like onto the crust. I prefer only a light layer of sauce.

Top this!

This is the fun part. There is literally no wrong way to do it. You can put as much or as little of anything you want on your pizza. One thing you must do is allow yourself to take samples of the toppings as you are placing them on the pizza. It is your right, as chef, to enjoy a treat, even if you have to make extra to ensure you have enough for the actual pizza!


Cheese. Toppings. It can take it.

I like to put toppings on in this order: cheese, meat, veggies, onion interwoven.

So first is the cheese. You can choose any cheese you like. You can increase or decrease the amount of cheese as you like. I put on enough to make sure there will be a nice layer of cheese all around. One thing we tried was sharp cheddar cheese, and we didn't like it because of it's very noticeable flavor and it is much more oily. We have since switched to a low moisture mozzarella cheese.

Next I like to put on a layer of sliced onion. Followed by some pepperoni or sausage. Whatever meat you decide on (if any), make sure it's cooked before you put it on your pizza. You don't want to end up with E. coli because you thought it would cook while on top of the pizza.

Lastly comes whatever the heck else you can think of that would go good on a pizza. Some people say the fewer toppings the better. Well that's fine, but maybe they just haven't tried the works! It's true that with fewer toppings, the ones that you do put on the pizza will be better cooked. Also, any toppings that retain a lot of water, you will want to slice thin. But just put whatever you want on there, and cook it until you like the way it looks. We like bell pepper, olives, and mushrooms, and maybe a little extra onion.

Nuke it

Place the pizza in the oven (at 500°F) for about 12 minutes. At that time, check to see what you think. If it doesn't look cooked well enough (I usually doesn't for me at 12 min), give it another 2 minutes. Then repeat that process until you do like the way it looks. Voila! You are now a pizza chef.


Put it all on. Pre-bake. Voila!

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