I’m feeling so unsettled these days. In preparation for our move, we’ve sorted possessions into keep, sell and give away piles, put my car up for sale and started packing boxes. We don’t have a tenant for our house yet so we’re a little hesitant to pack too many things away. A house always shows better with furnishing, I think. Mike has cleaned out the garage and loaded CraigsList with all of the memorabilia that seems so important at one time but has been stored in boxes for the last six years. This is spring cleaning to an extreme. Moving always seems like a good idea until you get to the packing boxes because you know in the end, there’s something that’s going to get lost, broken or you’re going to need it “right this minute” and not be able to find it. As I’m packing I’m thinking – will I need this cheese grater in the next 7 weeks?; how about that sweater – will the weather turn cold again? Because Mike and I have been talking about this move for almost 6 months now, I just need it to be done. I’m tired of the talking and planning and that’s the only thing that makes box packing ok. We’re taking the next step to having the truck packed.
All the box packing requires nourishment and I’ve been obsessed with making pizza at home. I know, it’s so easy to pick up the phone and in a short time a guy drives up to the house and hands you a box with crispy hot pizza in it, so why bother making it at home, right? It all started a couple of weeks ago when I thought there was a pizza in the freezer that I could just throw in the oven for dinner. Mike was traveling and frozen pizza was good enough for me that night. Anyway, I opened the freezer and………….no pizza. That’s when I decided to make my own. I mean I had everything in the house anyway, so why not. The making of the dough takes only minutes but the challenge has been getting the crust cooked just right with a crispy bottom with a little bit of chewyness (is that a word) while not having the top overcooked. I’ve tried everything from solid bottom pizza pans to pizza pans with little holes all over the bottom to pizza stones. Then there was the variable of oven temperature and which rack to cook the pizza on. I think Mike and YJ are just about pizza’d out, but I think I finally got it right on Saturday night. Our toppings of choice were sautéed spinach with garlic and some combination of cheeses – mozzarella and cheddar and a sprinkle of grated parmesan around the edges of the crust. Feel free to top it how you want – this is really about making the perfect crust. Because I can never get the crust perfectly round, we’ll call this a “rustic” pizza.
adapted from Eating Well, 1996
Makes 1 pound dough, enough for two 12 – 14 inch pizzas
2 cups flour
2-1/4 tsp bread machine or quick rising yeast
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
3/4 cup water
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
Cornmeal for sprinkling on the pizza stone or pan
Heat oven to 450F for a full 30 minutes before putting the pizza in the oven. If you’re using a pizza stone, set it on the lowest rack in the oven when you turn the oven on. If you’re using a pizza pan or cookie sheet, you don’t need to put it in oven early. Your crust won’t be as crispy as with a pizza stone.
Combine flour, salt, sugar and yeast in the bowl of a food processor. You can use the steel blade, but I prefer the dough blade. Pulse a couple of times until everything is well mixed.
Heat the water to a temperature between 110 and 120F and add the olive oil. With the processor running, gradually pour the warm water and oil mixture through the feed tube. Process until the dough becomes a ball and then continue processing for an extra minute to knead.
With well floured hands, transfer dough to a lightly floured surface. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 – 15 minutes. After the rest period, you can use the dough immediately or transfer it to a plastic bag and refrigerate it for use the next day. Bring the dough to room temperature before using.
Divide the dough in half and roll out to about a twelve or fourteen inch round (or rustic shape). Top with sauce and the ingredients of your choice. Lightly coat the pizza pan or pre-heated pizza stone with cornmeal and then carefully transfer your prepared pizza.
Bake on the lowest rack in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until the crust is crisp on the bottom and the cheese is bubbling and starting to brown.
Repeat with the remaining dough or freeze for future use.