Sunday, December 23, 2012

Pizza Night!


Pizza Night!
******* 

Small individual Pizzas: Makes 6 to 8 individual pizzas   (eight- to ten-inch)
Large Pizzas: Makes 3 or 4   fifteen-inch pizzas

Stan loves to roast nearly everything in our backyard wood-burning oven: pizza, huge platters of vegetables, whole chicken, Thanksgiving turkey, baked desserts, roast fruits, etc… (keep an eye on your little children). If you make pizza in a super hot wood-burning oven do NOT use oil or sugar in the pizza dough recipe; the sugar and oil cause the dough to burn too easily.  We often use 3/4ths unbleached flour and 1/4th whole-wheat pastry flour* for the dough. “Montana Wheat unbleached flour” is non-GMO organic. That’s what we use.


4 C unbleached flour
1 tsp salt
1 ¾ C warm water
2 tsp instant yeast (SAF*)
A little olive oil
*
Favorite toppings:
  • sauces (tomato sauce, olive oil with garlic simmered in it, Harissa spread)
  • fresh herbs (basil, thyme, oregano) 
  • cheese blend (we like half mozzarella/ half Swiss cheese...like the "King" pizza at the pizzeria in Cannes)
  • fresh or roasted vegetables from your garden (tomatoes, sliced zucchini, spinach, roasted aparagus, roasted butternut squash, balsamic roasted onions, caramalized onions with fresh thyme, roasted red peppers, sautéed broccoli, etc.)
1.     Heads up: after the first rise (step 5) preheat oven to 500ºF, or, if using a wood-oven, start the fire now.
2.     Into the large mixing bowl of an electric stand mixer, place water, yeast, flour and salt. Mix with the dough hook of your mixer for 7 to 8 minutes until dough takes on a shaggy appearance. At this point you can drizzle in a tiny bit of olive oil and mix the dough until it pulls away from the bowl.
3.     Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for another minute, until smooth and elastic.  You can do this whole process by hand without the mixer if you love to knead bread dough.
4.     Lightly oil the inside of a large mixing bowl. Place dough into the bowl and move the bowl around so that the bottom of the dough is well oiled. Turn dough over so that the oiled side of dough faces upward.
5.     Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise for 2 ½ to 3 hours in a warm, draft-free location. The dough should double in size (or refrigerate overnight at this point). Preheat oven to 500ºF now.
6.     Turn the dough back onto lightly floured surface. Divide into 3 or 4 pieces (for large pizzas), or 6 or 8 pieces (for small individual-sized pizzas). Roll gently into balls.
7.     Place balls on lightly oiled baking trays. When bottom of dough balls are coated with oil, turn each dough ball over and cover tray with plastic wrap. Alternatively you can use a large cardboard box and large plastic bag to proof the dough. Simply place lightly oiled parchment paper on bottom of box, put dough on paper, and put box of dough inside large plastic bag. Twist bag closed. Let rest for 20 minutes.
8.     For best results in making the pizza: do not handle dough too much. Transfer soft, rested dough to lightly floured surface and either roll out with rolling pin, or use your hands to pat it out to size.
9.     Start baking!
Our Pizza Night Games
10.  For a pizza party: have several pizza peels on hand***. People simply stand in line for a turn to pat out their pizza dough on the floured surface (the size of your kitchen dictates how many can do this at one time), then they transfer the dough to the pizza peel and cover with their toppings of choice. Then they take their pizza-on-the-peel to the pizza oven man—Stan. We’ve found it works best if one person "mans" the pizza oven rather than each person baking their own (the oven stays hotter that way, and it's less crazy!).

*SAF yeast: it is a high potency, fast acting yeast from France (Lasaffre Yeast Corp.) that can be added directly to dry ingredients without having to be activated in water first. SAF is more than twice as active as regular compressed yeast. It is sold in many grocery stores or online. It looks like a solid brick because it is vacuum sealed in the package. When you open the package it will break the seal and you will see that it simply looks like regular yeast granules. Store in an airtight container in your freezer. Stays potoent for 5 years or more in the freezer.
**Whole-wheat pastry flour is made from “soft-white-wheat kernels, in case you grind your own flour.
***We prefer the "Super Peel": a wooden peel covered with a fabric conveyor belt-type thing.

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