11 June 2010

Hands Acrust America

I was torn on whether to entitle this Damn! That's a Thick Crust or what I have. I've made my choice.

I work at home, and thusly, I generally do a daily glance of what's in my icebox to see what I want to eat throughout day, but mostly, I like to take inventory of what needs to be eaten/cooked--if not for that day, for another. I hate the smell of spoiled food and I hate wasting money on thrown out food. I am cheap.

Yesterday, I noticed that this bag of mozzarella had been sitting in the dairy tray for a while, and as most people would, I immediately thought pizza.

What kind though? Go budget and make pizza bread? Realizing that I would have to make sauce, it all kind of snowballed from there. (Have I mentioned that I don't like buying processed food if I can make it myself cheaper?) I reckoned that the sauce will have to simmer for at least 30 minutes to reduce, so I might as well make the dough and save the bread for sandwiches. The dough will have to rise twice over a total of two hours.

After eating lunch, I got everything assembled for the sauce and dough and let that go for the afternoon while I worked--getting up after the periodic timer alerted me to turn a burner off and turn the dough out.

My work day ended as did the prep time. I decided on a thick crust because I have for the most part exclusively baked thin crust since buying a pizza stone years ago. I bought it, I'm gonna use the hell out of it, and I did. It cracked last month.

I didn't want a giant 20-inch-plus pizza, so I resorted to a 12-inch cast iron skillet and fashioned a completely unauthentic deep-dish pizza. Oil laid, dough stretched, cheese laid, sauce poured, Black Forest ham and pineapple laid, and parmasan topped.

Baked at 400°F for 25 minutes

I use simple sauce and dough recipes, which turn out pretty consistent. Find them below:


26 oz canned tomatoes
1-3 crushed garlic
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp dried basil
salt & pappy

Toss in a saucepan, bring to heat, reduce to low-medium, and let it go for 30 minutes. Then cool it. Just cool it!


2 packets (4.5 tsp) dry active yeast
2 tsp sugar (honey, syrup, whatever you're just feeding the yeast)
2 c warm water

Combine and let sit until foamy.

2 tbs salt (this can be reduced)
6 c flour

Combine this to the yeast mixture until it turns into dough. Too sticky=more flour, too dry=more water, duh.

Turn out and knead into a ball, put back into an oiled bowl, cover with a damp kitchen towel, and place in a warm spot. I jump start my oven a couple hundred degrees, shut it off, and let it sit in there for an hour.

If you did a good job kneading, when you pull the dough out to punch down and knead again on a floured surface, it should form a smooth ball. If not, just knead it again and put it back in the oven to proof again. Sometimes I'm too lazy to wait for a second proof and round of kneading and have found that the pizza tastes fine to me, but the 2d proof does improve the texture and will bother myself to do this step if I'm trying to take someone to Flavortown.

The amount of dough just made is enough for one giant thick crust or few smaller pizzas. I generally use half and put the rest in the icebox to use in a day or two. I've found more than two days later, the dough has lost too much rising power to create a soft center around the crusty exterior and will make a cracker of a pizza. A trick learned by being the dough guy at a high school pizza job is to add this dough to fresh dough and it will create a texture similar to a Round Table or Mountain Mike's thin crust.

In the end, I don't mind using the older dough for something and don't care if you do.

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