Remember back in September, when I did a series on fabulous homemade pizzas, and promised I was going to make my own pizza crust some day? Well, I've finally come through on my claim! My husband bought me a pizza stone and pizza peel (and a fabulous wooden cutting board...I'd been using a plastic/rubber one) for Christmas and this week I tried it out for the first time to celebrate my husband's first day of class this quarter (he's working on his MBA through the Navy). I must say, this was the best pizza I've ever made, and the crust was definitely what made the pie!
Honey-Wheat Pizza Dough
1 teaspoon yeast (I used pizza crust yeast)
1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon warm water (105-110 degrees)
1 cup bread flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
5 teaspoons clover honey
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus 1 teaspoon for coating
Dissolve the yeast in the water and set aside for 5-10 minutes. Be sure the water is not hot as temperatures above 120 degrees will kill the yeast, causing your dough to not rise.
If using an electric mixer (Kitchen Aid) use the mixing paddle since this batch is too small for the dough hook to be effective. Combine all other ingredients (except the additional teaspoon olive oil) and combine them with the dissolved yeast in the mixing bowl. Don't pour the salt directly into the yeast-water since the salt will kill the yeast; these ingredients must combine gradually. Use only the lowest/slowest two speed settings and mix the dough 2-3 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Overmixing will produce tough, rubbery dough, and friction will cause the dough to rise too quickly.
If using a food processor, use a dough "blade" made of plastic rather than the steel knife attachment, which cuts the gluten strands and ruins the consistency of the dough. As with the mixer method, be mindful of speed and total mixing time so as to not cause friction and kill the yeast. Mix only until a smooth dough ball is formed.
If mixing by hand, place the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle and add the wet ingredients. Use a wooden spoon to combine. Once initial mixing is done, oil your hands and knead the dough for five minutes until slightly tacky.
Regardless of the mixing method used... Use the remaining teaspoon olive oil to oil the dough ball and the inside of a 1-quart glass bowl. Place the dough bowl in the bowl and seal with saran wrap, making sure the dish is air-tight. Set aside at room temperature to rise until doubled in size, 1 1/2-2 hours.
Punch down the dough, reform into a ball, and return it to the same bowl. Cover again with saran wrap, and place in refrigerator overnight, covered air-tight.
Two hours before assembling your pizza, take the dough from the refrigerator, leaving the glass bowl covered and air-tight. Set aside at room temperature once again until doubled in size (smooth and fluffy), about 2 hours.
Sprinkle a dry pizza peel (or other smooth surface) with cornmeal or flour. Remove the dough ball from the glass bowl, being careful to maintain the round shape and dust with cornmeal or flour as well; place on the pizza peel. Use a rolling pin (dust this with corn meal or flour as well) to press the dough into a circle about 12-14 inches in diameter (about 1/4-inch thick). Around the edge, pinch the edges up to form a lip that rises about 1/4-inch above the rest of the crust. Delicately lift the edges of the pizza crust and ensure it will slide on the pizza peel after dressing. Sprinkle more cornmeal/flour as necessary.
Mushroom, Pepperoni, and Sausage Pizza
2-3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
tomato sauce (choose your favorite, I used Bertolli Portobello with Merlot)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 red onion, diced
1/4 pound hot and spicy Italian turkey sausage, browned, crumbled, and drained of excess oil/fat
1/2 cup sliced baby bella mushrooms
24-36 slices pepperoni
Place pizza stone in the center of the oven and preheat to 500 degrees for an hour before cooking the pizza.
Drizzle olive oil over fresh pizza dough. Sprinkle garlic and basil over top. Spread tomato sauce all over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch perimeter "clean". Spread cheese evenly over entire pizza dough. Top cheese with onion, sausage, mushrooms, and pepperoni.
Using the pizza peel, transfer the pizza to the pizza stone and bake 10 minutes, or until the crust is golden around the edges and the cheese is bubbling.
Recipes adapted from The California Pizza Kitchen Cookbook, by Larry Flax and Rick Rosenfield.