|Tomato-based pizza topped with honey baked ham, mozzarella, parmesan cheese and fresh basil.|
So, when I decided to try making a pizza, my hubby looked at me semi-doubtfully and politely asked if it would be less troublesome to just go out and buy a pizza from a parlour - especially since we ARE in America! But who can blame him? The first one I baked did NOT look like the picture above. My dough did not rise properly and I rolled it too thick. However, I was determined to get it right. It's a little hard to explain, but I think baking can get a little addictive. From a person who used to NOT bake at all, I am now getting periodic urges to bake something. A cake, a cookie, pizza, anything!
So, I decided to try again, this time keeping a watchful eye on my dough and making sure that it rose. I would also like to disclaim that this is a pizza that was made successfully with the limitations I had. I don't own a pizza stone, so I used a skillet as a substitute. Pizza purists would probably gasp in horror at what I had done, but to me it did the job well enough! Also, a more preferable workcounter would be a sturdy, wooden table to knead your dough but I don't have that either, so I had no choice but to use my granite countertop. The end result is that beautiful pizza (above). I know I kind of folded the edges all wobbly, but it kind of lends a rustic look to it, don't you think? :)
Basic Pizza Dough
(makes 2 pizzas about 10-inches wide)
1 1/2 teaspoon of active dry yeast
1 cup of lukewarm water
3/4 cups of all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, and some extra for coating the dough
1/2 tablespoon of salt
Dissolve the yeast conpletely in a large bowl by stirring it into 1/4 cup of lukewarm water. Try not to use a metal bowl, because metal tends to be colder than other materials, which is not good for the yeast. However, I only have a metal one, so I warmed the bowl with some hot water, dry it and then dissolve the yeast in it.
After 10 minutes, add 1 cup of flour and mix it thoroughly. Then, gradually add 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, the salt, another 1/4 cup of water and 1 cup of flour and mix thoroughly again. If it is too difficult to use the spoon, just use both hands to collect the dough and knead it, like play-doh, within the bowl.
When pouring in the water and flour for the last time, hold back some of both and only add until the dough is soft and not too sticky. For mine, I ended up adding all the water, plus a tablespoon extra, and I had about 1/4 cup of flour leftover.
Take the dough out from the bowl. Holding the edge of the dough, slap it down hard against your workcounter several times until it is stretched about 10-inch wide. Then, reach for both far ends of the dough and fold it into the center, and then pushing the dough away from you, and then collect it by rolling it back to you. Slap the dough down again and repeat the procedure until the dough becomes soft and uniform, for about 10 minutes. Then, pat the dough into a round bowl.
Now, it is time for the dough to rise. You can put the dough back into your large bowl. As I wanted to avoid using the metal bowl (as mentioned, it is not good for the yeast, especially for rising it) so I split the dough into two and put them into separate ceramic bowls that has been lightly coasted with olive oil. Roll the dough around the bowl to lightly coat it with olive oil, then cover it with a plastic wrap.
For the dough to rise properly, it is important to put it in a draught-free place. I put mine in my unheated oven and turned the oven light on to give it some warmth. Then, wait for three hours. The dough should have risen 2 times its original size. When done correctly, not only will the dough look much bigger, but it will feel much less dense. It will have this soft, airy texture when you likely prod it with your finger.
Preheat your oven to 450F. Meanwhile warm your skillet over your stove for 5 minutes. I used a shallow baking tray the first time I did it and the dough wasn't able to be cooked properly. So, i decided to use a skillet to emulate a pan.
Take your risen dough out of the bowl. If you have halved it, fine. If not, halve it now and set it aside. Use a rolling pin and flatten the dough as thin as you can. This is important as the dough will rise again while baking. I did mine super thin, like 1mm thick, and that's how I like it. If you are confident enough, you can toss your dough up in the air like a pro. Leave the edges of the dough slightly risen, or you can, like me, roll it inward with the toppings to make my own stuff crust pizza. If not, you can leave it empty too. FYI, i don't own a rolling pin (still contemplating if I should get one) so I used my old wine bottle instead. :D
Spread your sauce onto your dough and then place it into the pan. Top it with any toppings of your choice! I wouldn't recommend topping it before placing it into the pan because the weight might tear your thin sheet of dough and it would just get messy.
Pop the skillet into your preheated oven for about 15 minutes, or until the dough is coloured light brown. When done, drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil! :)
For the other half of the dough that has been lefover, you may start making your second pizza if you have a bigger crowd, or if not, you can save it for later. You may store the dough in your refrigerator for up till 48 hours to give it a slow rise, or you may also put it into the freezer to be stored for a longer period of time. However, when you take it out, you must wait much longer for the dough to be at room temperature and to let it rise a little bit again. I'd suggest to just use up the dough as soon as you can! Tweet