Searching for good vegetarian meals in Charlottesville, Virginia

Sunday, August 1, 2010

In which we have pizza

Pizza is a little bit of an ordeal to make, but we love it so much, we still manage to have it frequently. My father ("Papa" to the kids) has perfected a crust recipe, and I've made variations by substituting various whole grains for part, but not all, of the all-purpose flour. The version pictured was topped with a thin layer of Parmigiano Reggiano, then whole-milk mozzarella, gorgonzola dolce, and rosemary from the garden. I also made a couple with tomato sauce, mozzarella, and herbs, but they were eaten by Mr. Persnickety, so no picture.
I could write a whole blog just about pizza, so look out for more topping ideas in the future. For now, I leave you with Papa's crust recipe:

For two thin or one thick pizza:

3 c flour (at least one of these should be unbleached, all-purpose, but whole wheat well, too)
1 1/3 c warm water
2 t yeast (I prefer the instant yeast sold by King Arthur flour--a little goes a long way)
3 T extra-virgin olive oil

I make my dough in my large Kitchenaid standing mixer. I usually double the recipe and make three thicker or four thinner pizzas. I bake them on perforated pizza pans atop a pizza stone.

In the mixer, I place the water and yeast. I attach the paddle attachment and start it up on low and then add the oil. I then add 1 cup of flour with the mixer off and then start the mixer to mix it in. When the dough starts to come together, I switch to the dough hook. The amount of flour is inexact and depends more on the temperature and humidity of your kitchen than on some preconceived notion of how much flour pizza dough should have. Add more flour as needed to prevent sticking and knead the dough a couple of minutes, until it is elastic.

I use a dough-doubler container, oiled, with a lid. You can also use an oiled bowl, covered with a damp cloth or plastic wrap. Let the dough rise about an hour, depending on how quickly it rises. It should double in bulk.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface, preferably a large, wooden board. Let it rest a few minutes and divide it into pieces if making more than one pizza. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough minimally into circles to fit your pans. Place the dough on the pans and top with your favorite toppings.

I bake my pizzas at 450 degrees.

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