Yesterday I made homemade pizza!
A couple of days ago I was watching some really old episodes of Jamie Oliver’s The Naked Chef show. I just happened to come across them while looking at other things on youtube and I realized how much that show and his cookbooks got me super excited about cooking. At that time, The Hubbs & I were just dating and it was the first time I had ever been exposed to The Food Network — when cooking shows were actual cooking shows and not reality tv programs. I was looking forward to being able to have my own kitchen to start learning how to cook and experiment. Watching those shows really piqued my interest in food and cooking.
After watching a few of the episodes and reminiscing, I pulled out the first cookbooks I had ever owned and started flipping through them. I have to admit, it was kind of cool to see the notes I had made in the recipe’s margin every time I came across it in an episode of the show. It made me want to go back and find those episodes so I could see what made me so excited to try the recipes myself.
One of the episodes I had watched the other night was for homemade bread, which spawned the idea of making pizza with the intentions of baking them on the BBQ grill, but with the wind being as crazy as it is the last few days, I opted to just make them in the oven. The recipe makes about 2lbs worth-ish of dough.
I had originally planned on making a couple of pizzas for dindin and then with the remaining dough, make a sheet of focaccia with some caramelized onions, garlic, olive oil and generous sprinkling of coarse salt. Things being the way they are of course in my life, that didn’t happen. All we ended up doing was making two pizzas for dindin and then another two pizzas to be eaten this morning for breakfast. The remaining dough I divided into two bags and tossed them into the freezer for future use.
I have to admit, I’m quite proud of my bread dough! I started it off in the food processor to get things going but then I ended up dumping everything onto the counter so I could give it a good kneading. I forgot how much energy and stamina is required to knead bread — not to mention the fact that my hands still haven’t quite got the knack of closing properly since SALLY and so the act of kneading is actually a little more awkward for me than it used to be pre-SALLY. Either way, after the kneadning process, I tossed it into a greased bowl, covered it with plastic wrap and a tea towel and put the whole thing into the oven so it could do its thing. I punched down the dough once at some point, folded it a few times on itself in the bowl, covered it up again and then left it in the oven until dinner time, when we were ready to eat. The dough rose absolutely beautifully.
The taste and texture of the dough was quite fantastic. I realize that it’s “just bread dough”, but when you make it from scratch, it just seems to taste better. I’ve made bread dough in the breadmaker and pulled it out to shape by hand before tossing into the oven and even then, it doesn’t taste quite the same as when it’s done mostly by hand (and “by hand” I do generally mean in my kitchenaid and then kneaded by hand until I’m too tired to continue).
Topping-wise, The Hubbs and I have very different tastes in terms of what we like on pizzas. We do have a habit of ordering 2 pizzas when we have takeout, but we will both each eat what the other has ordered, but with making homemade pizzas, it’s rather awesome. No needing to share or compromise, whatsoever.
The Hubbs’ All-Meat Pizza
The Hubbs’ pizzas of choice tend to be all-meat pizzas. Mine, I generally prefer to have at least something vegetable-like on my crusts. Last night was no different: The Hubbs did a pepperoni, ham & salami pizza and I made a Prociutto, Anchovy, Tomato & Basil pizza.
My Prosciutto, Anchovy, Tomato & Basil Pizza
I have admit, I am thoroughly impressed at how awesome and relatively easy it is to make pizzas at home once you have the dough thing all worked out. It’s pretty fun and ultimately very satisfying when your pizza comes exactly the way you want it.
After dinner, we realized we were both pretty full from eating just the one pizza, so we decided on making a second pizza each just so we could have them to eat later. I don’t recall what The Hubbs’ second pizza consisted of, but mine was Salami & Ham with Basil.
Salami, Ham & Basil Pizza
Even reheating the pizzas this morning for breakfast, the texture and flavour is so much better than that of a takeout pizza. Supreme pleasure to eat with the crusty and golden brown bottom and puffy-chewy crust. So yummy.
Basic Pizza Dough
2 cups warm water
1 envelope yeast
2 Tbsp sugar
3 tsp salt
In a measuring cup, combine 1 cup warm water with sugar and yeast. Set aside to proof for a few minutes.
In the bowl of a mixer (or food processor), add flour and salt and mix for a few seconds to combine
Add yeast mixture to flour and mix with dough hook, adding the remaining cup of water, until everything comes together.
Lightly flour surface and tip out dough mixture, knead by hand until dough becomes smooth and elastic, adding more flour as needed to keep things from sticking like mad.
When dough has come together nicely, oil a large bowl with olive oil and roll the dough ball around until it’s coated.
Cover bowl with plastic wrap and a tea towel and leave in a warm draft-free place to rise until doubled in bulk.
When dough has doubled, punch down dough, fold it over onto itself a few times cover it again and leave alone until ready to use.
To make pizza: Preheat oven to 475F.
Line a cookie sheet with tin foil and lightly sprinkle with cornmeal. Set aside.
Punch down dough again and knead a bit to combine.
Take a portion of dough (about a handful) and knead it on a floured surface until it gets to a nice size that’s not too thick or thin.
Place pizza crust on cookie sheet, spread with tomato sauce, toppings and cheese.
Bake for 12 minutes until golden brown and cheese is bubbly.