Sunday, March 13, 2011

Pizza Dough Recipe

Okay, I'm just a little excited about this post. Of all the recipes that I have ever striven to perfect, this is THE ONE. Pizza, arguably one of the best culinary concoctions ever, would be nothing without it's crust. A house built on sand, a sandwich without bread, I think you understand what I am getting at. Of all the different kinds of crust: the thin crust, the almost cracker crust, the deep dish crust (yuck, sorry Chicago), my favorite is the yeasty, chewy crust. That is the recipe I'm sharing today. If you are looking for one of the others, go away silly, you won't find it here. However, I challenge you to try this pizza dough recipe, it just may convert you.

A little side note, you need 3-4 hours to make this start to finish. Yes, there are quick pizza dough recipes out there and they simply do not compare. Plan ahead for this, it's worth it and after a few times of making it you won't even think twice about it. Also, try my pizza sauce recipe, it's quick and very tasty:

(Sounds intimidating, but it’s not)

1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast (check the date on your package, if it’s old it won’t rise and that’s always a disappointment.)

1 tsp. sugar

1 ½ cups warm water (about 80 degrees)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 ¼ cups bread flour (Use the bread flour, all-purpose does not have the protein level you need to develop the chewy consistency that makes this dough so good.)

Place the yeast in a medium bowl (you can use the bowl from your mixer) and add the water and sugar, stirring to dissolve the yeast. Allow the yeast to rest for about 5 minutes, until it turns creamy. Stir the oil into the mixture and then gradually stir in the flour, mixing until well incorporated. Now it’s ready to go through it’s first rise, just scrape down the sides of bowl, cover, and let the sponge rest in a warm place (about 85 degrees) for about 1 ½ hours, or until the sponge is very bubbly and has risen to about double its volume. I have found the best place to let my dough rise is in the oven. I turn the oven light on and it warms the oven just enough to create the perfect environment for the dough to rise.


The sponge

2 to 2 ¼ cups bread flour

2 to 3 teaspoons of salt (depending on your taste)

Deflate the sponge which will be sticky and loose, and fix the mixer with a dough hook. Add 2 cups of the flour and the salt to the sponge and mix on low speed for 2 to 3 minutes. Increase the mixer speed to medium and, if the dough isn’t coming together nicely and cleaning the sides of the bowl (look below for pictures of this), sprinkle in a little more flour by spoonfuls. Continue to knead on medium speed for another 4 to 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Although the dough may remain moist and a little sticky, you should be able to grip it without having it stick uncomfortably to your fingers. Now the pizza dough is ready for the second rise. Place the dough in a lightly oiled large bowl, turn the ball of dough over so that its entire surface is moistened with oil, cover, and allow to rest in a warm place for 1 ½ hours, or until it has doubled in bulk and holds an impression for a few seconds when you prod it gently with your finger. It is then ready to stretch out into pizzas; you should get two nice sized crusts with this pizza dough recipe.

When baking the pizza, bake at 450 to 475 for around 15 minutes.

This is the sponge after the first rise, I sprinkled in the salt before I took the picture.

This is not pulling away from the bowl yet, needs more flour.

This is pulling away from the bowl and ready for the second rise.

In the bowl, before it's risen:

It's risen! Ready to make into pizzas with your favorite toppings.

Cooking Light's Citrus Chiffon Cake

I wanted to bake a cake but I was looking for a recipe that was light and worthy of serving to guests. I found this Cooking Light recipe, I think it is from the June 2005 issue. The citrus is not overpowering, just the right balance. I don't think the cake would be that good without it. And good variation would be lime or key lime with the orange or lemon. I made a thin powdered sugar icing with orange juice in place of milk and drizzled over each slice. YUM. I can also picture this served with fresh strawberries or any berry that's your favorite. Lots of plans for this one, let me know if you try it!

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
8 oz. sugar (about 1 cup), divided
6 oz. sifted cake flour (about 1 3/4 cups)
1 Tbs. grated orange rind
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1 Tbs. grated lemon rind
5 Tbs. canola oil
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
3 large egg yolks
8 large egg whites
3/4 tsp. cream of tartar
2 tsp. powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 325°

A couple of notes, I have a postal scale so I measured out this recipe in ounces, like it says to. I also used a silicone angel food cake pan and I think this would work well in a bundt pan if you have one. 158 calories and 5.3 grams of fat per serving.

Combine baking powder, salt, 7 ounces of the sugar and all the flour in a large bowl. Stir with a whisk until the mixture is well combined.

Combine orange rind, orange juice, lemon rind, canola oil, vanilla, and egg yolks in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add rind mixture to flour mixture, stirring until smooth.

Place egg whites in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar; beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1 ounce of sugar, beating until stiff peaks form. Gently stir one-forth of the egg white mixture into the flour mixture; gently fold in remaining egg white mixture.

Spoon batter into ungreased 10-inch tube pan, spreading evenly. Break air pockets by cutting through batter with a knife. Bake at 325° for 45 minutes or until cake springs back lightly when touched. Invert pan; cool completely. Loosen cake from sides of pan using a narrow metal spatula. Invert cake onto plate and dust with powdered sugar before serving.