Friday, March 2, 2012

Homemade Pizza

As much as I love having a reliable pizza joint that delivers, I really love homemade pizza. No pizza joint ever leaves the pizza in the oven long enough (especially on a busy Friday night when I am most likely to order a pizza), and I much prefer making my own sauce and topping combinations.

Lately I've been making pizza using the dough recipe in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. They recommend prepping the pizza on a proper peel and then sliding it onto a preheated pizza stone. I don't have a peel or a pizza stone, and honestly I don't think I want to give up precious kitchen storage space to two such large items (plus there's the whole fact that I am trying to declutter the kitchen). So it has taken me a few tries to come up with a technique that results in an evenly baked and crispy crust.

I roll out the dough on a piece of parchment paper and put all the toppings on. I slide the dough and paper onto a cookie sheet (I have a sheet that is open on two sides), and then slide the dough and paper directly onto the oven rack. When the pizza is done, I slide the pizza and paper onto my cooling rack. Once cool, I cut it on the counter.

When I first started using this dough recipe, I was putting the dough and parchment paper onto the cookie sheet, baking for the first five minutes, then sliding the piza and paper onto the oven rack, and then sliding it back onto the cookie sheet to get it out of the oven and let it cool. It finally occured to me that if I can put dough directly onto a grill rack, the parchment paper should be enough to support the pizza from the beginning on an oven rack. This has resulted in a crust that bakes crisper and faster, since I don't have to open the oven part way through the baking. I read the trick of cooling the pizza on a baking sheet on the King Arthur Flour website, and it really does prevent the nice crispy crust from softening up again as it cools.

Here's tonight's pizza. This one has a tomato sauce with basil, garlic, and hot pepper, as well as mushrooms, cheese, and bits of oil-cured black olives.



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