Thursday, November 26, 2009

Making Pizza from Scratch

OK kiddies here is how to make pizza, pay attention cause I'm only typing this once. Read the instructions right through before proceeding. This makes two large pizzas.

contributed by Jason Zeppa

4 cups (1 liter) flour
1/2 tsp salt (2.5 ml) salt
1 tsp (5 ml) total dried herbs like basil, thyme, rosemary
1 and 2/3 cup (250 ml + 175 ml) warm water 
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) sugar
1/3 cup (85 ml) olive oil - total liquid to make 2 cups

You need flour usually white all purpose but if you want to be healthy, as if it really is a choice, use whole wheat flour mix- half white and whole wheat is best. What you need to do is measure out 4 cups of flour into a large mixing bowl. Add to this a half teaspoon of salt and dried herbs like basil or Italian seasoning.

Next you will need one and two thirds cups warm water, to this add two packages of instant dried yeast with a little sugar. Place this container in a draft free warm area and let the yeast activate.  When it is frothy add a third cup olive oil to the water, yeast and sugar to make a total of 2 cups of liquid.

Add the liquid to the flour stirring with a large spoon until it forms a ball. With your hand work the dough, pushing it into itself for a few minutes at most. Do not work the dough much, this is very important. You do not have to throw it and roll it, you are going to push it on the pans to cover them. Maybe I'll make a youtube video so stay tuned. If the dough is too hard, you can add more water. But here is the catch - you have to know that it is going to be to hard before it is turned into a ball. You can tell if the dough is not forming a ball quickly. If it is hard add a little water. If it is too soft you can just add more flour and this is no problem. So here is a hint - a wet dough is easy to fix so a little extra water in the mix is a good idea until you get the hang of this.

You must let the dough rise until it doubles in size, make sure you cover the bowl with a towel and place it in a warm draft free area. This doubling might not be possible if you use all whole wheat flour. The stove is the best place for the dough. But if it is too warm (see preheating below) you might actually start to cook the pizza dough.

HOME TOMATO SAUCE for pizza base.
1 onion, fresh, chopped
1 Tbsp (15 ml) olive oil
2 tsp (10 ml) dried herbs -like Italian mix, basil, chili flakes etc.
1 clove or more crushed fresh garlic
2 cans diced tomatoes - 798 ml (28 fl oz) each
1 tin tomato paste (156 ml)

The sauce is easy, you need to saute one onion for approx. 4 minutes with olive oil and some herbs - Italian mix is nice, basil is good, chili flakes are nice. Add raw crushed garlic. Garlic burns easy, so make sure you cook over medium heat and cook it only for a few more minute. The add two cans of plum tomatoes (798 ml each) with the juice and also one can of tomato paste (156 ml). You should start this before you start the dough. For you'll need to simmer with lid off and reduce this by a third. A large sauce pan is best for this process but a large pot will work.

Now you will need pizza pans or cookie pans; large is good. This recipe makes two pizzas in 18 inch pans (45 cm).  You have to oil the pans, if not the dough will stick. Take half the dough, place in the center of the pan, pat it down and start to work the dough towards the edge of the pan. If the dough is sticky add a little flour to your hands and sprinkle a little on the dough itself. You have to turn the pans pushing the dough to the edges, it it tears just pinch the dough together. If the dough is hard you can roll it with a rolling pin on a cutting board. Not in the pan.


Mozzarella cheese - we used part skim mozzarella by Black Diamond - about 6 cups total (1.5 liter) or 3 cups (750 ml) per pizza

Yellow, red or green peppers slice thin - one should do two pizzas

Red Onion, sliced thin

Dried or cooked meat (or not... vegetarian pizza is great) or 500 grams of cooked and seasoned ground pork 
Optional additions: your choice of favourite pizza veg like sliced olives or tomatoes

Well I'm sure you know the rest, buy good quality cheese, and fresh veggies, and dried meats. Cooked ground beef or pork or cook Italian sausage is a great addition.  The photo below is of a 500 grams of ground pork cooked with spices for the meat topping (e.g., add fennel, basil, thyme, rosemary, garlic, hot chile etc.) to your liking.  Use the spoon to break up the meat as you saute it in a non-stick skillet.  You want it dry and crumbly for the pizza topping.

Now kids, preset the oven to 450 degrees F'.  Hot, yes, the hotter the better. You have to keep an eye on this because it could be done in less the 12 minutes in a hot running stove. Check to bottom to see if it is brown, and if the topping and cheese is bubbling this is a good sign that it is time to set the table. If you have not already done so. Be creative with your topping selection.

Let the pizza cool in the pan for a bit, 5 to 10 minutes if you can wait, so that the toppings and cheese don't get messed up when you cut it with a pizza cutter.

PS don't burn the pizza keep it on the middle rack of the oven. Preheating the oven is a must.

Happy cooking.

Christian says this is really good pizza!  Let me know what you think!!