Saturday, 3 May 2008

The Beginning

Saturday Morning,

In the relative quiet of the day, I am undertaking the beginning of my blogging journey.

Inspired by the lovely, raucous and generous ladies (and gents) of the Daring Bakers, I thrust myself into the stream of writers who are dizzy in love with the reading, watching, creating and tasting of fine foods.

Please be patient with me, my knowledge of computers is mediocre at best but my intentions are good and I promise to write regularly and with variety.

It is the weekend and in my family that means pizza. In the interest of sneaking some nutrition into my teenage sons, I have begun adding whole wheat flour to the pizza dough. Just a little at a time, so as not to arouse suspicion. Having 3 teens in the house means that pizza is done on a mass scale so here is my recipe, adapted from the KitchenAid stand mixer booklet, for sneaky semi whole wheat pizza dough.

Pizza for a Crowd

In your stand mixer -
2 cups warm water, not hot of course. Just warm to the touch.
4 tsp traditional dry active yeast or 2 (8 gram) pkgs.
Give it a stir with a rubber or silicone spatula.
Add 5 cups flour - I do about 2 cups whole wheat and 3 unbleached white. Go ahead and experiment but having some white gives the crust a lightness which is especially important when using other flours like rye.
2 tbsp Italian Seasoning - sometimes I use chili powder
2 tsp salt
3 tbsp olive oil

Attach the dough hook to your mixer, and mix for 2 minutes on low to combine. Scrape down bowl and mix on 3 until you have a nice ball that pulls away from the bowl. About 3 -5 minutes. You can finish by hand if you like, kneading on the counter to get a nice smooth ball. If it is humid, you may have to add more flour. Just a little at a time.

Place your ball of dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl and cover with a dish towel. Leave to rise for one hour in a warm, draft-free place.

Meanwhile dust 2 cookie sheets with cornmeal or semolina. One sheet for Fussy Boys and the other sheet for Veggie Girl and us, the Parents.

Gather some toppings. I find that you can easily locate small cans of pizza sauce at the regular grocery store and they top the 2 pizzas perfectly. As alternatives you can use pesto, salsa, or homemade sauce but for Fussy Boys, regular pizza sauce will be fine.

Shred some cheese - I do mozzarella for the traditional, about 1 1/2 - 2 cups and a blend of mozzarella and other cheeses for the other. Parmesan, cheddar, blue or feta are faves in our house.

Toppings - the world is your limit. Try to stick with a theme to avoid pizza chaos, it is tempting to put everything that you love on your pizza but you might find that your pizza is tastier with just a few generous toppings.

I believe that I should state now that many of the toppings should be pre-cooked. Bacon can be half cooked in a pan and let to crisp up on the pie, other meats should be fully cooked as the pie is only in the oven for about 15 - 20 minutes.

For the traditional I do just pepperoni or bacon. That's it. How these boys don't have scurvy by now I don't know.

For the alternative pizza, I do usually Hawaiian. Bacon, pineapple, roasted red peppers, pickled hot pepper rings and occasionally, slivered almonds. Or vegetarian Mediterranean - jarred artichoke hearts, feta, sweet red peppers, kalamata olives, halved cherry tomatoes and fresh herbs. (put the herbs on the bottom, to avoid burning) Lastly, and this might make you cringe, I love pizza with anchovies, onions and sliced tomatoes. Fortunately Hubby has grown to love this combo too but it can only be served when Veggie Girl, who will sometimes eat bacon, is not home.

When the hour of rising is coming to an end, preheat your oven to 475 degrees.

When your dough is ready, divide into two - a bench scraper is great for this.

Roll out each half to a rectangular shape roughly the size of your baking sheet. Transfer to the sheet and press in to fit.

Top each dough with sauce, cheese - hold some back for sprinkling on the top, and toppings. Top with the remaining cheese and bake until crisp. About 15 - 20 minutes depending on your oven and tastes, the amount of toppings will also affect the time so keep an eye on the oven after 15 minutes. Hopefully your baking sheets will fit in the oven side by side, if not, place pizzas on top third and bottom third of oven and rotate half way through.

Garnishing the pizza. As if the toppings weren't enough, I have been known to make a small mound of garlic mayo topped with Frank's Red Hot sauce for dipping the pizza. I buy the garlic mayo at the grocery store - not very foodie of me, I know, but it lasts so much longer in the fridge than homemade.

And last but not least, the real reason for making pizza on Friday nights - cold pizza on Saturday mornings! It is understood on weekends in our house that, yes, Mom will make breakfast but just not until noonish so foraging for leftovers is very popular for early risers.

Which brings me to the pic. Cold Pizza on a Saturday Morning. Nothing better.