Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Pizza from scratch!

It took two tries to get this right, and I'd say it still needs work, but I'm SO EXCITED! =) I've been wanting to try pizza dough forever, especially since people tell me it's easy. (Apparently not for me.) So I scooted over to, yup, you guessed it, smitten kitchen, and dug this one out. The first time I tried it I made my usual overestimating-the-power-of-ingredient-mapping error, and tried to have a slow rise in the fridge. Guess what happened? I came home and it was a rock hard, ice-cold ball. Took me over two hours to get it pliable, and of course it didn't rise at all.

The second time I left the dough to rise outside, after activating the yeast. It worked much better, only it took a good 2 and a half hours. The dough was not very pliable; in fact I think it might need more water here in Hyderabad. I don't know how it is supposed to turn out relative to bread dough, but it was a lot harder and tougher.

My second big problem was that I neither have a pizza stone nor a big oven. Never fear, I improvised a pizza stone by using the back a steel plate (good South Indian kitchen) that I heated in the oven, and then oiled with caution to prevent sticking. I needed to roll the dough out really thin though, but the end result was fabulous!

For the dough:

  • 1 cup wholewheat flour (atta)
  • 1/2 cup flour (maida)
  • 1 tsp active dry yeast
  • 3/4th to 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
Mix the flours together, with the salt. Put the yeast in about 1/4 cup of water and wait till it starts bubbling. Make a well in the flours and pour in the oil and then the yeast mixture and start to mix it together slowly adding more water. When it forms a ball, turn it out onto a floured surface and knead, adding water till it's all in. (Deb says to not knead much, only a minute or two; maybe that's where I went wrong; but it really wasn't coming together at all, and was so very hard.)

Oil a bowl, and the ball of dough, and cover with a clean dry towel and set aside to rise till it doubles - say 2 hours or so. Once it has risen, gently press the air out and make it into a ball again, and leave for 20 minutes under the cloth. Roll it out very thin, depending on the size of your oven etc you'll get one or two - I usually get three because of the tiny oven and having to roll em out really thin cos of no pizza stone. 

Preheat the over to highest temp (250C for me), with the steel plate/pizza stone inside. Oil the plate and lay your dough circle out. Bake it for about 5 minutes or so, till it starts to puff. Take it out of the oven, and spread a thin layer of sauce on it (recipe), and top with very thinly sliced toppings and grated cheese. Bake for 10 minutes or so, till the cheese starts to blister and the crust has browned. Devour HOT.

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