You know how there are things you are just dying to make but are too intimidated to try? Maybe it’s the crazy list of ingredients, maybe it’s the time factor, maybe it’s the equipment or your own utter ignorance on the matter?
This is me with bread.
I looooove bread. Artisan loaves, pizza crust, biscuits, even horribly tasteless Sarah Lee white bread gets a thumbs-up in my book (until, of course, it’s all I could eat for several days due to food poisoning. Blech).
I would love to make bread. I can envision the pleasure of the scent filling my home, the glee at seeing a perfectly browned crust come out of my oven, the satisfaction of the first warm, butter-drenched bite. Bliss.
Sure, I’ve made bread-items. That wonderful Irish Soda Bread, for instance. I made some cream biscuits on Saturday. I’ve even made bread with beer. But these all fall into the category of “quick breads” — i.e. breads that use a chemical leavener, not yeast. I haven’t made any REAL bread yet, because, when you get down to it, I’m kind of terrified of yeast.
I mean, with yeast, so much can go wrong, right? What if the recipe calls for lukewarm or ice-cold water and I can’t get the right temperature? What if I don’t knead it right, or I mess up the rising, and then my whole afternoon has been wasted? Isn’t yeast alive? I mean, what if the yeast is really some crazy fungus that will kill us all???? (Did I mention that my fears are not at all reasonable?).
But, my curiosity got the better of me and all the right circumstances came together: I had been eyeing homemade pizzas on various blogs for months, I wanted pizza on Sunday, and I thought about it early enough to have time to let the dough rise. I was ready for my first meeting with yeast. I ran my butt to the store, got some basic yet tasty toppings and a packet of the dreaded and possibly-living yeast, and set to baking.
Holy cow, people. Can I tell you how flipping EASY this was, and how freakishly tasty, too? There’s nothing like stepping into the unknown and having everything go splendidly. I want to eat one today, tomorrow, and every day for ever and ever. Seriously.
(Isn’t she beautiful??)
Here’s the recipe. Now go make the best damn pizza of your life.
Really Simple Pizza Dough from smitten kitchen
This made the perfect-sized pizza to feed Aussie and me. The crust was soooo good — chewy (even though I didn’t use bread flour like my reference books recommended) with just the perfect amount of saltiness. I made the crust moderately thick, mostly because I was afraid of stretching it too thin, and I went for an irregular square shape — non-round pizzas are so much cooler, right?
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water (I added 1 extra tablespoon)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Cornmeal for dusting baking tray
Stir all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add water and olive oil, stirring mixture into as close to a ball as you can. Dump all clumps and floury bits onto a lightly floured surface and knead into a ball. (I may have used a bit too much water — there were no floury bits. This apparently was a non-issue!)
Knead dough for a minute or two. Spray the bowl you just used with cooking spray. Put the dough back in and turn around so all sides are covered, then cover in plastic wrap (I put a tea towel on top for good measure because I don’t trust plastic wrap) and let rise 1-2 hours until doubled in size (I did about 1.5 hours).
Dump dough back onto a lightly floured surface and gently press out the air with your palms. Fold back into a ball shape, and let sit under plastic wrap (again, I added a tea towel). Let rise for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to hottest temperature (I used 500F) and get toppings ready.
Sprinkle a baking sheet (who needs a stinking pizza stone?) with cornmeal. Stretch/roll pizza dough into whatever shape you want, and put on baking sheet. Add toppings (mine listed below) and bake for 10 minutes. The burning smell is the cornmeal. Don’t freak out!
And here are the details for my oh-so yummy toppings…
Not that anyone really needs a recipe for toppings!
Jenni’s First Pizza
1/2 can tomato paste mixed with some water
1 portobello mushroom, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1/4 red onion, sliced
4 oz shredded mozzarella
1 oz shredded parmesan-like cheese (just a remnant I bought at Whole Foods)
1/8 lb prosciutto, torn apart (mwa ha)
On top of raw dough, smooth tomato paste mixed with a bit of water. Sprinkle mozzarella on top, add slices of mushroom and green bell pepper. Sprinkle with the parmesan-like cheese. Bake for 5 minutes. Realize you forgot something. Add red onion and prosciutto. Bake another 5 minutes. Take out of the oven, gasp at your amazingness, take photos, EAT!
Seriously…I just may never buy pizza again!