Saturday, February 5, 2011

Delicious Homemade Pizza

I just can't own a new pizza peel and not make homemade pizza.  Last week I had a hankering for pizza and so I invited a few friends over for my culinary experimentation - and I scored BIG!


In order to get that perfect authentic pizza crust, I would argue that you need to bake your pizza on a stone.  I've tried the pan method and I don't feel like you can get the same rustic crust color and texture from a pan as compared to a stone.  Besides that, I think every kitchen should have a good stone, because sooooo many things taste better cooked on a stone.

Anyways, back to the important first step -- stick your stone in the oven, second from the bottom tier, and get it heating up.  I turned my oven up to 400 degrees and let my stone heat up for a good 20 minutes - which is about the amount of time it takes to put everything together. ;o)

The Dough

The pizza dough was from a friend of my mom. After putting all the ingredients together I set the bowl aside to rise while I made the pizza sauce.

1/4c. water  with 1 tsp. sugar
*warm water and sugar in microwave until warm, then add
1 TBS. yeast

add yesty-water to
2 1/4 C. flour
1tsp. salt
1 TBS sugar
3/4 c. warm milk

Set dough aside to rise.

The Sauce
And I'm going to do ya'll a huge favor and introduce you to Cento Tomatoes.
This is the secret to a perfect tomato sauce. I swear to you that Cento tomatoes are distinctly different canned tomatoes. Now I'm not a spokes person for Cento, but I am someone who has tried a lot of canned tomatoes. It was obvious from the moment that I peeled back the can lid that these tomatoes were different:
  • there was actually a smell of ripe tomatoes that proceed the first glimpse of the contents of the can
  • the color of the tomatoes was a deep red, not the regular sickly red with spots of yellow and green
  • when I stuck my finger into the can and tasted the crushed tomatoes they were delightfully tomatoey in taste without an overpowering acidity.
With tomatoes like this I really didn't have to do much to make a yummy pizza sauce.  I diced and sauteed a half of a sweet onion and about 2 cloves of crushed garlic in 2 TBS of olive oil.  Once the onions were translucent I dumped 1 28 oz can of crushed Cento tomatoes into the pot, added some dried oregano, basil, and a pinch of rosemary and let it hangout on the stove top on low while I went back to play with my dough.

Shaping the Pizza

Seeing as I make a big enough mess in the kitchen with out throwing dough around, I just stuck to rolling out a hunk of dough on a floured counter top.Thin crust pizza is my favorite (it's the whole dough to toppings ratio thing) and so I probably rolled my dough out more than most people.
I sprinkled the top of my pizza peel with corn meal and then flopped my dough onto the pizza peel.  Transferring the pizza dough from my peel to the super-duper hot stone in the oven required a little shaking and jiggling (the pizza peel, not me).  And here's where the fun began:

  • I let the pizza dough in the oven for 2 minutes, then air bubbled begsn to form and in some cases made my pizza dough look like a big pillow. After two minutes, I opened the oven, and using a fork, I popped all the air bubbles.
  • After about another 3 minutes I used my peel and pulled out the dough (it smells FABULOUS by this point)
  • I covered the top with a light spreading of the tomato sauce (too much sauce can kill the pizza) and added slices of fresh mozzarella and thin slices of Genoa Salami
  • I flipped the oven to broil and popped the pizza back onto the stone for a final back of 4-8 minutes
After that, you pull that pizza out and indulge in warm-cheezy-yeasty-salty Italian perfection.

I've been to Italy and tasted authentic pizza from Rome, Florence, and the hill country of Tuscany, and I'd say that this comes pretty ding-dang close.
This is a photo of my favorite pizza in Rome (this is one unforgettable creation)

What do you think?

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