Homemade Pizza — Crust and Sauce

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Okay. The weather needs to make up its mind and decide if we are going to be cold enough for sweat shirts or warm enough for t- shirts. This warm, cold, warm, cold is getting very, very old.

I had planned to come home from work and do some house work but coming home to an ice cold house forced me to put my pjs on, lay on the couch huddled under my flannel quilt and watch Doctor Who. Life is hard.

Since I had a more leisurely evening then I had planned, I decided to make homemade pizza. How is pizza leisurely? Doesn’t it take two hours for the dough to rise and even longer for the sauce to simmer? According to some food and recipe blogs, it can. However, it doesn’t need to. Pizza is never going to be an in a hurry meal, not even if you order out but my recipe will be ready from start to finish in about an hour, not 2-3 hours.

Don’t be intimidated if you have never worked with yeast before. Its easy if you keep a few things in mind.

1. Yeast is a living organism. Like all living things, yeast dies when it gets old. If the expiration date on the envelope has passed, it is time to get some new yeast.

2. Excessive heat kills yeast. The water you use to proof your yeast should feel neither warm nor cool when you stick your finger in it.

3. Smooth and elastic is about the texture of your ear lobe.

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Pizza Dough

½ cup lukewarm water
1 tsp yeast
¼ tsp salt
1 TBS olive or canola oil
1 ¼ cup all purpose flour

Place lukewarm water in a medium bowl and sprinkle with yeast. Let it stand 5 minutes until foamy. Add salt, olive oil and ½ cup of flour. Beat several minutes with a wooden spoon. Add the remaining flour a ½ cup at a time mixing after each addition. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Oil the bowl, place the dough in it, turn the dough over to cover with oil and cover the bowl with a clean dish towel. Put the dough into a warm place to rise 30-45 minutes or until doubled. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Adapted from Mollie Katzen’s Still Life With Menu

Now that we have gone to all “trouble” of making our own pizza dough, it would be a shame to ruin it with jarred or canned pizza sauce. So while our dough is rising lets make some pizza sauce.

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Pizza Sauce

1 (8 oz) tomato sauce
½ tsp olive oil
½ tsp red wine vinegar
1 medium garlic clove, minced
½ tsp salt
½ tsp oregano
1/8 tsp black pepper

Place all ingredients in a bowl. Stir well. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Now go find something to do for the next 38 minutes while our dough finishes rising.

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Jan/Feb ’11

When the dough is done rising, punch the dough down. Roll the dough to fit a pan sprayed with nonstick cooking spray and press it into place. Add the sauce and desired toppings. Bake in the top third of the oven for 10- 15 minutes or until the crust is golden and the toppings are bubbly. 2 9 inch pizzas
Notes — I use a 9 inch cake pan for this recipe but you can use any pan that will hold the dough when it is all stretched out.

— I like to pre bake the crust for about 5 minutes before I add the sauce and toppings. It keeps the crust from getting soggy. It isn’t necessary, however.

— A light hand with the sauce and toppings will also keep the crust from getting soggy.

— If you don’t use both servings of pizza dough, you can put in in a small plastic freezer bag and keep it a day or two in the fridge or in the freezer for up to a week.

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