Pizza

Homemade Pizza
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon (1 package) active dry yeast
  • 1 1⁄2 cups warm (100˚F) water
  • 1⁄4 cup rye or whole wheat flour
  • About 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1⁄2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Cornmeal or coarse semolina flour, for dusting
  • Pizza toppings (recipes follow)
Time estimates

Prep time: 2 hours 30 min  

Cook time: 12 min 

Total time: 2 hour 42 min  

Directions

1. Dissolve the yeast in the water in a large mixing bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer. When it begins to bubble, stir in the rye flour and 1 1⁄2 cups of the all-purpose flour.
2. Beat 100 strokes by hand or 2 minutes at low speed in the mixer. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the batter rise in a warm place until bubbly, 45 minutes to an hour or more.
3. When the sponge is nice and bubbly, stir in the oil and salt and another cup or two of flour.
4. Mix as thoroughly as possible in the bowl, then turn the dough out onto a floured surface.
5. Knead in as much of the remaining flour as needed to make a smooth dough.
6. Oil the bowl and return the dough to the bowl, turning it to oil all sides evenly.
7. Cover and allow the dough to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
8. Punch down the dough and divide it into 4, 3 or 2 pieces, depending on the desired size.
9. With lightly floured hands, form each piece of dough into a ball, stretching the top slightly as you tuck the sides under, and finishing by rolling it around on the board with one hand until the top surface is smooth.
10. Place the balls on a floured tray at least 2 inches apart, cover with a towel and let them rest for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours. (Or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight; allow at least 1 hour for the refrigerated dough to return to room temperature before forming the pizzas.)
11. Preheat the oven to 450˚F, with a pizza stone or baking tiles on the lowest rack.
12. Have your topping ingredients ready, and dust a baker’s peel or a rimless cookie sheet with fine cornmeal or semolina.
13. To form round pizzas by hand, place a ball of dough on a lightly floured surface and press it gently with the fingertips into a disk about twice the original diameter.
14. Lift the far edge of the circle and, holding it between your fingertips and the heels of your hands, gently stretch it to increase the diameter of the edge.
15. Work your way around the edge, letting the weight of the dough stretch the middle, until you have a large circle with a thin center and a thicker edge.
16. The next step is harder to describe than it is to do:
  • Drape the far edge of dough over one wrist, letting that hand curl inward in a relaxed position.
  • Holding the near edge with your other hand, stretch the dough gently against the curved wrist, then give it a little flip to rotate it 90 to 120 degrees.
  • Repeat, stretching the next part of the edge.
  • One or two more flips should produce a nice circle 11 inches or so across.
17. Lay the circle of dough on the prepared peel, stretching a little dough back toward the center if necessary to close any tears.
18. Add your choice of toppings.
19. Slide the pizza directly onto the baking stone and bake until the edges are golden brown and the bottom is crisp and browned, about 12 minutes; use a long-bladed spatula to rotate the pizza halfway though the cooking time so it bakes evenly.
20. Brush the edge of the finished pizza with a little more olive oil if you like.

Yield

Makes four 11-inch or three 12-inch rounds, or two 11-by 17-inch rectangles.

 

Variations

  • Pesto, Potato and Pancetta
Put some small, thin-skinned potatoes in the oven to roast while it preheats. Coarsely chop 2 slices of pancetta or bacon and cook in a skillet until they render some of their fat; you can also do this in another small pan in the oven. Brush each 11-inch dough round with a scant 2 tablespoons pesto, top with slices of potato (which may be only partly cooked at this stage; that’s okay), and scatter the drained pancetta pieces around the potato.
Try this pizza with pale ale, porter or stout.
  • Margherita
In authentic Neapolitan style, this is a rather sparsely topped pizza, with more crust showing between the tomatoes and cheese than most Americans would expect. Lightly salt slices of fresh tomato, preferably cherry or plum size, and set aside to drain for a few minutes. Arrange the drained slices on the pizza dough, add some 1⁄4-inch slices of fresh fior di latte mozzarella and finish with a drizzle of olive oil. Top with basil leaves after baking.
I like Märzen or amber ale with this.
  • Shrimp, Tomato and Feta
Brush each 11-inch pizza with 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, and scatter on a scant teaspoon of chopped garlic, then 1⁄2 cup peeled, seeded and sliced tomato, 1⁄4 cup crumbled feta cheese and 4 ounces small raw shrimp, peeled and coarsely chopped. Sprinkle with chopped fresh herbs (marjoram, oregano, thyme or Italian parsley) and a little more olive oil after baking.
Try it with hefeweizen.
  • Onion, Anchovy and Olive
This pizza is a variation on pissaladière, the Provençal leek tart. Quarter 1 large onion through the root end and slice the quarters thinly crosswise. Cook gently in 2 tablespoons olive oil to a pale golden color. Spread the onions over the pizza dough, top with rinsed anchovy fillets (whole or roughly chopped) and kalamata or niçoise olives.
Definitely a pale ale pizza.

Technique

To make a rectangular pizza on a baking sheet, roll and press half the dough into an 11- by 17-inch rimmed baking pan as for Focaccia, but skip the extra oil and final rising and add your favorite pizza toppings.

Which beer should I drink with this?

What beer doesn’t go with pizza, and vice versa? The only thing to watch out for is serving very highly hopped, dry-finishing ales with hot stuff like pepperoni. See the individual pizza toppings for more specific ideas. Don't miss: Understanding West Coast pale ales.

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From The Microbrew Lover’s Cookbook, Copyright © 2002 by Jay Harlow. Used by arrangement with Jay Harlow.

Photo: fritish/Flickr