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    Pizza Dough (hand kneaded)

    There has been a clamor for years to get me to post a pizza recipe. So here it is.

    A few tips: Always use bread flour, which has more protien. If you don't have a pizza stone, cook the pizza on a preheated cookie sheet. This will make it brown much better. Have you ingredients at room temperature, at least the ones that won't spoil. And consider precooking the meats. This pizza cooks about ten minutes. Cold toppings may not cook well.

    This recipe will make Two medium pizzas.

      Sponge:
    • 3/4 cup warm water
    • 1 tsp sugar
    • 1/4 oz active fry yeast
    • 1 tsp flour
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • 3 cups bread flour
      Sauce:
    • 4 oz tomato sauce
    • 2 oz tomato paste
    • 1 tsp garlic powder
    • 1 tsp oregano
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp sugar

    1. Mix together the sponge ingredients (first four ingredients). The water should be warm but not hot. Let that stand for 5 minutes or so. Then add the olive oil and salt.

    2. From this point forward the goal is to use as little flour as possible.

    3. Start mixing in flour 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well between each addition. You probably won't get past the 1 1/2 cup point before the mixture gets too think to mix in more flour, but this will vary. Just keep adding flour slowly and mixing until the dough gets to the point where you can get your hands into it and form it into a ball. The dough should still be rather sticky, but not gooey.

    4. Turn the dough ball out onto a well floured cutting board or counter and start kneading. The kneading works like this: Press your fingers into the center of the dough ball, grab the front of the dough ball and pull it over the top of the depression you just made, press down hard with the heal of you palm, turn the dough ball 1/4 turn and repeat. The idea is to keep stretching and compressing the dough.

    5. Try and do this very quickly. As the dough feels like it might stick, spread a small amount of flour on the surface you're using. If the dough does stick enough to get on the board or your hands you'll need to remove it. Scrape the board with a knife and rub your hands together to remove any stuck dough.

    6. You'll need to add flour a lot, and you want to use as little flour as possible, so try to dust the surface lightly. Keep kneading for about 10-15 minutes. It will get harder to work with after about 5 minutes, but keep at it. Longer kneading will incorporate too much flour, and less won't develop the glutton enough.

    7. Cut the dough ball in half and form each half into a smooth ball by folding the edges into the bottom. Lightly oil two bowls and place a ball in each. Lightly coat the dough balls with oil, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and place both bowls in the back of the fridge. If you want to use the dough ASAP you can let the dough rise out on the counter for two hours rather than putting it in the fridge. But it won't have the same taste and it will be harder to form the pizza.

    8. Let the dough rise in the fridge for several hours or overnight. About 1-2 hours before you're going to top the pizza, take the dough out and let it warm up and rise more. Don't touch the dough yet or punch it down. If you don't let it warm up enough it will be very hard to work with. It should triple or more in size. Preheat the oven to 450 well before you're ready to use it. If you have a pizza stone it will take longer to heat that up completely. If you don't have a pizza stone you can preheat a cookie sheet instead.

    9. Prepare all your ingredients and toppings before you touch the dough. The pizza will have to come together very quickly and you won't have time to chop or mix things. Make the sauce, but don't cook it, just mix the ingredients together. Lay out the meats, chop the veggies, grate the cheese, etc. Get your pizza peel ready by rubbing it with plenty of flour. If you don't have a pizza peel you can use a cookie sheet without a lip, or even a piece of cardboard.

    10. When you're ready to make the pizza, take the dough ball out and put it on a well floured surface (not the peel). Cover both side with plenty of flour. Use your finger tips to make a well defined edge. Use a press and stretch sort of technique. Then pick up the dough and slap/stretch/spin it so that you have a pizza sized disc. 6-8 inches across is what you're going for. Try to have the dough even all the way through without making it too thin in the middle. There's no magic technique to make this happen. It just takes practice.

    11. Place the dough on your peel. The goal now is to keep the dough from sticking to the peel. Give it a little shake every few seconds as you top it to make sure it will still slide. If the dough sticks to the peel you are screwed! Don't forget the shake.

    12. Top the pizza however you want, but don't use too many toppings. It will cook very quickly and too much stuff on top will keep it from cooking all the way through. I use a sauce - cheese - topping - more cheese strategy, but you can use whatever you want. I've made pizzas with potatoes and salsa verda. Anything goes. Keep shaking!!!!

    13. As soon as the pizza is topped, slide it onto your cooking surface it the oven. Check the clock and don't open the oven for another 7 minutes. It will probably take about 8-10 minutes to cook. And will burn if you let it go a couple minutes longer than that. Take the pizza out and let it cool a few minutes before cutting.
    Comments for this recipe



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