Friday, September 16, 2011

Kickass Dough

This is how I relax sometimes and it also happens to yield a wonderful (and wonderfully easy) dinner.

Assemble these ingredients for kickass, super-ridiculously-easy pizza dough:

  • Approx 4 to 5 C flour in a large bowl (shake it through a sifter as it goes into your bowl...I never actually measure the flour, I just kinda pour heaping handfuls one at a time into my sifter/sieve)
  • 1 beaten egg and a drizzle of olive oil (I usually combine these in a mug)
  • A generous palm-ful of sea salt
  • Half a bottle of beer
  • a pint of tepid water
  • 1 packet rapid-rise yeast
  • honey
In a large measuring cup (I have a 32 oz heavy-duty Pyrex that's perfect for this, because you'll end up pouring this stuff slowly in a bit), I usually combine my half-bottle of beer and my tepid water, add the yeast, then stir til it dissolves. Drizzle some honey in there to feed the yeast. You'll want some of the tepid water on reserve.
If you have a Kitchenaid stand mixer, awesome...Use it with the dough hook.
If not, awesome...make a pile of your flour on a clean surface with a well in the middle for your wet ingredients (this is so messy, but the way my grandmom taught me and such fun, you guys).
Add the salt to your flour.
Combine the egg/olive oil  with your flour first...then slowly add your yeast/beer mixture(if you are using the mixer, use a slow speed and gradually pour in your liquid...if you are doing it by hand, gradually pour your liquid into the well & incorporate the pile of flour from the outside in)...
You'll use at least an entire pint of beer/yeast Water and if the dough is still dry, add more tepid water LITTLE BY LITTLE.
The dough should be elastic-y and supple...Remove the big clump of dough from the mixer at this point, because the kneading must be done by hand (don't cheat & let the Kitchenaid "knead" it, the mixer is only used to incorporate all your shtuff and get it going).
Knead the dough (just keep turning it over & onto it itself, keep making it into a ball, working it working it working it ...give it some love for a few minutes, but don't overdo it or your dough will be tough).
Let the ball of dough rise in a large bowl, covered with a dish towel (preferably the tea-towel kind...I don't know why, but it just works).
The dough should rise in about two hours, but you can let it sit there longer.
When you are nearly ready to make some pizza magic, preheat your oven to 425F degrees.
Any old cookie sheet will do, but my mom's mine happens to be the round kind with little holes all over it.
Remove your dough from its bowl (it will deflate a little when you take it out and knead it again...that's normal).
I roll my dough out with a badass heavy-duty old school wooden rolling pin sometimes...
Sometimes, I stretch & shape it by hand.
Either way works and either way produces an awesome result. The rolled out version is usually thinner and crispier...just sayin.

Top it with whatever your little heart desires and bake in your hot oven...keep an eye on it (usually takes ten to fifteen minutes for the crust to become golden-brown).
Let that beautiful pizza rest for a few before slicing/digging freaking. good.

What I put on ours last night:
Pizza #1: sundried tomato chicken sausage (browned and crumbled up first), sundried pesto, roasted garlic, some kind of fancy mild Italian cheese from Wegman's (it was sheep's milk, I don't know what it was called, but it melted beautifully).
Pizza #2 (the better of the two, in my opinion): homemade basic basil pesto, roasted garlic, Pecorino, goat cheese, pepitos (pumpkin seeds), cracked pepper, red pepper flakes, copious crunchy salt, and an all-over drizzle of honey

Disclaimer: My dough always comes out perfect. I never make it the same way (last night I used Rogue Amber Ale, sometimes I use Victory Hopdevil or Terrapin Hopsecutioner)...Sometimes I use two packets of yeast, sometimes it only rises for the bare minimum. All I know is, my grandmom showed me the basics when I was a kid and I am certain she sends some kind of crazy-ass dough-blessing down to my kitchen every single time I make pizza.

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