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Pizza

Pizza is a wonderfully collaborative food.  In our tiny kitchen (about 3’X5′), pizza is one of the only things that gets made as a real team effort; there’s really not enough space for two people, but this is one food that requires two distinct talents – baking (to make the dough – that’s my specialty) and cooking (to make the toppings – definitely not my specialty).

Pizza started out in our house as a thing we did with Trader Joe’s pizza dough (only $1!) and a few standard toppings (pepperoni, sauce, cheese).  Now it gets done with home made dough (with wild yeast that was ‘caught’ in the kitchen), home made sauces, and any one of the innumerable combinations that come sometimes out of fancy, sometime out of a need to clean the fridge.  The good news is pizza is forgiving – I think in all the pizzas that have been made here in the past four years, only two have made their way to the trash uneaten.  If you figure that we eat about a pizza a week, those are pretty good odds for edible food.

Here is a recipe for pizza dough with wild yeast.  You can make it with dry-active instead – just substitute a package of the stuff and proof it in a quarter cup of warm water (make sure it’s not hot or it will kill the yeast).  But trust me – it’s a lot more fun to make it with the starter and then add whatever you can find to the top of the pizza.  Don’t be afraid…it’s just pizza…it will forgive you.

Pizza dough with wild yeast:

About 2 cups flour
1 teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup sourdough starter*
3/4 cup water

In a large bowl, combine 1 3/4 cups flour and salt.  Mix in sourdough starter and water.  Depending on how wet the starter is, more water or flour may be needed.  The dough should come together in a semi-sticky mass.  Let it rest for a few minutes if you like, then turn the dough out onto a pizza peel (recommenced if you’re going to make pizza regularly), or a cutting board that’s sprinkled liberally with flour.  Knead dough for 10 minutes (don’t skimp – zone out or better yet, talk to your sweetie while you do this – particularly good thing to do if you’re trying to work through something – it’s pretty therapeutic).  The dough will be elastic, smooth and not sticky when you’re done.  Split the dough into two pieces, form into a ball and dust with flour.  Put each ball into a smallish container (I’ve been using cheap knock-off tupperware), cover with a lid or plastic wrap, and either let it sit for a couple of hours to rise, or do a retarded rise in the fridge, either all day, or overnight.  Overnight cold rising has given us the best results.  Sometimes the room-temperature rise makes for a dough that sprouts holes.  It’s possible if this happens often, the dough isn’t being kneaded enough, so make sure it gets the full 10 minutes and do it longer if you like.

Roll the dough out on a floured peel (we use the peel for everything, even chopping most of the toppings).  If you worked in a pizza parlor and have ever thrown dough, go ahead and knock yourself out.  When it’s as thin as you like, lift the dough and get your wife to both knock off the excess flour and spread a fairly thin layer of corn meal down on the peel.  Gently lay the dough back on the peel and you have a crust that’s ready to do with what you will.  Master that and then come talk to me about sauce and baking time.  This took me four years to learn through trial and error.  Bake that thing HOT – at least 450 but I like 500 (this is a subject of some debate in our house).  If you don’t have a pizza stone, just go get one.  You can try this on a baking/cookie sheet, but you won’t understand why we love pizza so much if you do it that way, trust me on this.

One Comment

  1. […] it because it’s really tasty and easy to make and cheap.  In fact, I love it so much that I already posted about it and not too long ago.  Which might make you think “well, I can skip this post” but you’d miss out […]

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