Thursday, June 10, 2010

Homemade pizza or focaccia bread

Mark has had a few nights off from cooking this week so I'm a bit behind in adding recipes. This is a family favorite; even our picky son will down 2 slices in a sitting!

Pizza dough (as mentioned in the Christmas post, salami cheese bread recipe, this is adapted from the Joy of Cooking):

1 pkg instant yeast
1-1/4 c. warm water (105-115 degrees F)
1-3 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2-3.5 c. flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water, let sit 5 minutes. Pour into a bowl, and add sugar, oil and salt. Add 2 c. flour and mix well. I wouldn't make this as often if I didn't have our Kitchenaid mixer with dough hook, I admit it.

I started with white flour but over the years we've moved to 100% whole wheat flour. We used half and half for awhile until we got used to it but I think we all like the chewiness of the whole wheat now. If you're not a fan of whole wheat but want the whole grain, try King Arthur Flour's "white whole wheat" flour. It's awesome.

I start with 2 c. flour and mix well. Then I add more flour by 1/2 c. increments until it's just pulling away from the sides of the bowl, but still kind of attached at the bottom. If I'm using white flour, it's up to 3-1/2 cups; whole wheat flour is only about 2-1/2 c.). Knead about 5 minutes, then pour a little olive oil down the side and quickly grab the dough ball, swish it around to coat the bowl with oil and then turn it over, so the whole dough ball is coated in oil.

Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place about an hour, until doubled; or overnight in the fridge which tastes way better but I can never remember in time.

Sprinkle a lot of cornmeal onto a baker's peel and stretch out your dough by hand (some people use a rolling pin but I think it flattens the dough too much; I like bubbles) until it's about 15-18 inches in diameter. Or, you can divide it into 2-4 pieces and have everyone in the family make their own. Allow to rest 10 minutes. It will have contracted a bit, stretch it back out a little before topping.

Our favorite:
Cook a box of frozen chopped spinach; drain well. I put it in the middle of a clean dishtowel and wring it right out. Pour 3-4 Tbsp good extra virgin olive oil onto the dough. Add 4-5 cloves crushed or minced garlic, and using a basting brush, spread the garlic and oil all over the crust. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp sea salt (kosher's too fine for this), 1 tsp each dried basil and oregano, and some ground black pepper.

Cover with part-skim mozzarella, feta if you have it, and grated Romano cheese. Sprinkle with the drained cooked spinach and sliced black olives. If you like them, of course.

Slide onto a preheated pizza stone that's also been sprinkled with cornmeal. Bake at 475 F for 10-12 minutes, or until the cheese is just starting to brown. Pull it out with the peel, and let cool for a few minutes before slicing (as if we ever do).

Our second favorite:
Gyro pizza
Do all the above, but skip the olives (you can use kalamata olives if you like). Chop a few slices of gyro meat (we get ours from the Mediterranean specialty store down the road) and sprinkle onto the pizza. If you can't get this, try some marinated pork tenderloin or even chicken. Add chopped tomatoes, onions-whatever you like on your gyros. Bake as directed above and serve with tzatziki sauce for dipping.

Another favorite:
Breakfast pizza
Cut back on the garlic and herbs by about half. Top with some mozzarella, Swiss, cheddar, chopped ham, bacon, onions, peppers, broccoli-- whatever you like in a quiche. Gently scramble an egg and cook it for a minute or two on the stove until it just starts to cook and then dab the bits of egg onto the pizza; or just crack an egg or two right onto the pizza, then slide it into the oven. Bake just as above.

My brother Ryan's favorite:
Focaccia bread
Mix the dough as above. Divide into 2 pieces and pat into about 8 or 9 inch rounds (you can put them in oiled cake pans or just do this on a baking stone). Let rise an hour. Gently press your fingertips into the risen dough to create dimples. Drizzle olive oil all over the bread so it pools in the dimples; sprinkle with sea salt, rosemary, garlic, grated cheese, etc.--whatever you like on your focaccia. Thin slices of red onions or leeks, and thin slices of potatoes work very well, too. Bake at 400 F for 20 minutes, until it's golden brown. Cut into wedges and serve.

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