Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Cheap Eats of the Week: Pizza Dough!

 Yesterday I decided to make homemade pizza dough.  I got out one of my (ahem) many many cookbooks I own and found this recipe. I have decided recently that buying cookbooks is a bit of an expensive hobby to have. I seem to just love collecting them more often then I use them since I generally find most of my inspiration and recipes online! So I decided this time I would actually get one out.  This cookbook in general I feel could get used quite often. It is titled, "BAKING", by James Peterson and it has very detailed photographs for each recipe.  I generally judge how well a cookbook is buy how many photographs it has. And this one doesn't disappoint.  It is an extremely large cookbook, boasting over 300 recipes and nearly 2,000 photographs! (I told you it had a lot).  I really do suggest you check it out.

But anyway back to my pizza dough.  If there is anything as cheap or as versatile as pizza dough please someone let me know.  It is extremely cheap to make- it's more of the time commitment one has to put into it.  But when you do the results are amazing! I had recently gone out and purchased new yeast packages. I had an old one sitting around since (well, since I can't remember that should tell you something).  I still gave the old yeast a go, but with no bubbles produced my assumption was confirmed. Time to buy new. At about $2.00 a package for three, thats a good amount of yeast. 

I first started by "activating the yeast" in a small bowl, basically waking the little guys up.  I put the 1/2 teaspoon in, about a tablespoon of flour, and a tablespoon of barely warm water.  I let it sit for about 5 to 10 minutes. I then determined there weren't enough bubbles and a little bit more yeast. I have no idea if I really needed to do this, (as I feel I'm still "green" when it comes to using yeast), but I figured why not.  Yeast , in case you're curious is the smallest eukaryotic organism, belongs in the fungi kingdom because it can't make its own food, and is the most widely researched eukaryotic organism due to its ability to replicate so quickly. It is able to convert starch into alcohols (beer makers rejoice!) and carbon dioxide (hello bread!). Ok sorry the science teacher felt I need to divulge a little about yeast. Perhaps I should have called this blog, "The Dorky Baker". Anyways back to the dough...

I added my activated yeast to my flour and water and put my mixer on medium speed. It wasn't coming together as much as I would have liked, so I added a little bit more water and my salt. Not sure if this was due to the first nice hot day we had in Boston all May.  I added my extra virgin olive oil and continued mixing. At this point it started to look like dough!

After 7 minutes no high speed with my dough hook attached, I let it rise on the counter top for about 4 hours in a well-oiled bowl. Although like I said it's cheap, it is a bit time consuming. Don't plan on coming home and having pizza on the table in about an hour! This would be a good recipe to do the day before and let it rise in the refrigerator overnight or even while you're at work!  When I came back from the gym (yes I need to have balance in my life with all the baking I love to do) I was so excited to see that it had risen! (It's these little things in my life that I get most excited about).
Tonight I plan to use the dough-so I'll post my finished pizza recipe tomorrow and let you know how it turned out!  Next I'd like to try Smitten Kitchen's "Really Simple Homemade Pizza Dough. An amazing food blog I can only inspire to (I suggest you check it out)

Pizza Dough Recipe
Adapted from Baking, by James Peterson

Makes 1 ½ lbs. dough enough for two 11- inch thin pizza crusts
3 cups flour
¾ cup barely warm water
½ tsp. active dry yeast proofed in 1 Tbs. barely warm water
¼ tsp. salt
6 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
Before beginning, proof yeast in the barely warm water.
(I let sit for a couple minutes and then give it a stir.  Then I let it sit for another 5 minutes or so). **If of course you don't see immediate bubbles being produced, admit defeat and get new yeast!
Mix the flour, water, and yeast in a bowl. Add the salt and mix, then add the oil.  Knead the dough with a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook on medium speed for about 7 minutes or until the dough is smooth and passes the windowpane test. Turn the mixer to high speed if needed to get the dough to slap against the sides of the bowl.   You may also, during this time, pull the dough is mixed evenly.  Put the dough in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. (I put mine in a well-oiled bowl and then covered it. Allow to double in volume, at room temperature for about 4 hours or at room temperature for 1 hour and then overnight in the refrigerator.
I saved the dough to the next day...and then of course roll and top with whatever you want

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