In my previous post I discussed a new vegan cheese that is good for everyone’s favorite meal: pizza! Since I had to mix up some pizza dough tonight, I figured I would photograph it as I went along to share with you here. This led my husband to ask if this was going to turn into a pizza blog. That’s not really my intent, although I sure love pizza. I’ve been threatening to get the How to Make Soy Milk and Tofu posts up soon, so if you are really strange and hate pizza, don’t go away! In the meantime, though, let’s talk pizza.
First of all, I have to apologize for the fact that I can’t post my pizza dough recipe, which I realize is really lame. I feel like I’m off to a weird start; I was thinking that people who came across the blog yesterday and didn’t read my Teese post carefully might think I work for Teese and just slapped this together to advertise for them, which is another reason I thought I’d better get some more posts up. I promise I will have recipes for you very soon, but I only want to post original recipes unless I am sure the author of the recipe I am posting is okay with it being shared. The pizza dough I make is from Peter Reinhart’s Bread Baker’s Apprentice, and I have to tell you, I am a total fangirl of Peter Reinhart and I don’t want to piss him off. I think he’s actually an extremely nice individual, but nonetheless I’m not taking any chances on making him sad. But if you have ANY interest in bread baking, please, please, please buy this book. And then buy his new Whole Grains book. Even if you are too scared to bake your own bread (although you shouldn’t be; if I can do it, you can too!), the pizza dough is really, really easy if you have a stand mixer and is worth the cost of the book alone. Any one of the recipes in it is worth the cost of the book (although as a vegan there are some I’ve never tried).
Now, that said, I’ll be hypocritical and alert you that you CAN find the same recipe I use here. But I’m telling you the book is worth it! What I will share with you, though, is my thoughts on keeping your household in homemade pizza. Peter’s recipe makes 6 individual-sized pizzas and it freezes wonderfully. So what I do is mix up two batches – one using high gluten white flour and one using white whole wheat flour – at a time. The dough has to rest at least overnight, so I usually do this on a Friday night, like tonight, and then pop one serving of white dough and one serving of whole wheat dough in the refrigerator for use at some point during the weekend and then freeze the rest. Then on subsequent Friday nights I take one of each type out of the freezer and put them in the refrigerator to thaw. That way they are ready at any point for a (relatively) quick meal. I bake both up, cut each in half and my husband and I get half of each; that way we each get the wholesomeness of the whole wheat and the decadence of the white. I’ll talk more about that later. For now, here are some photos!
Gathering the Ingredients
I’m a big fan of mise en place, although with so few ingredients, it’s not a big deal here. It’s just flour, salt, yeast, water, and optionally olive oil. The problem with mise en place at my house is it often attracts my cat. Meet Tigger. You’ll be seeing a lot more of him, I’m sure.
Note the scale. Peter gives his recipes in volume and weight. If you’re a casual baker or not sure if you are really going to make your own pizza dough or bread more than once, go ahead and use the volume measurements, but if you are at all interested in baking more often, please get a scale. It’s faster and far more accurate.
Mixing the Ingredients
You’ll be stirring together the dry ingredients, then the olive oil if you are using it. The water goes in last. Although I fill my measuring cup to a little above the proper line, I weigh my water on the scale as well because I’ve found the lines on the cup are pretty inaccurate, and the amount of water in bread and pizza dough is crucial. After adding the water, you want to mix just to bring it all together. That funny looking thing is a dough whisk which I use in lieu of the mixer’s paddle attachment suggested by Peter (yes, we’re on a first name basis), because I find it annoying to switch attachments. And also because I have a serious problem when it comes to King Arthur Flour’s store. A sturdy spoon will work just as well though.
Mixing the Dough
One of the goals I have for this blog is improving my food photography skills. I read a lot of great food blogs with incredible pictures, and although I’ve long been interested in photography, I’m horrible at photographing food. This is actually a reason it’s taken this long for my husband to convince me to get this blog going. So, um, apologies for the photography but it is NOT easy to photograph the interior of the mixer bowl while it’s mixing! The reason I couldn’t stop the mixer to take the picture is the dough would look a lot different if the mixer wasn’t working. The dough should be so wet that if the mixer stops, it looks like a sloppy mess, but as the mixer is working, it should come together on the hook, clearing the sides of the bowl but sticking to the bottom. Unfortunately I couldn’t angle the camera well enough to show you the bottom of the bowl. I am kind of short.
Note: if you are making two batches of dough as I did, mix up the second batch while the mixer is kneading the first!
The Mixed Dough
When the dough is clearing the sides of the bowl and is silky and smooth, dust your work surface liberally with flour and dump the dough out onto the flour. You may need to scrape it out with a dough scraper (if you have a baking tool obsession) or spatula (if you don’t). If it is too sticky to work with, roll it around lightly in the flour. Now it looks like this:
Dividing the Dough
Peter’s recipe makes six individual-sized pizzas, so use a bench scraper (or a knife) to cut it into six equal pieces. When I make rolls, I weigh each piece on the scale to ensure they are all exactly the same size, but with pizza crusts, I just eyeball it.
Rounding the Pieces
Next, take each divided piece and round it into a ball. To do this, cup your hands over it and sort of push down and under, while turning the dough around in a circle. You just want to form a ball with a little bit of surface tension.
Storing the Dough
Now here’s the part I DON’T want you to follow me on. I store my dough in recycled plastic containers, Tofutti cream cheese (because I also love the bagel recipe in Peter’s book!) and sour cream containers to be exact. They are the perfect size for this, however, I do NOT advocate storing food, especially long term, in plastic containers, especially the type of plastic meant for “single use”, and also I don’t like plastic at all in the first place. In fact, I’m open to any suggestions readers might have, although I will probably end up buying some Pyrex bowls, which I already use to store my homemade ice cream, for this purpose. So pretend you don’t see the Tofutti logo on my containers and use your imagination to come up with something better to store your dough in. But for the sake of honesty and so you can see the size container you should be looking for, here is what my dough looks like when ready for the freezer or refrigerator:
Now, I mentioned that I make a second batch of the dough using white whole wheat flour. Whole wheat pizza dough is a bit of a holy grail among whole wheat aficionados. I know I sound like I’m in love with Peter Reinhart, but if you are one of those people who has tried making whole wheat pizza crusts and gotten really depressed about how cardboard-y and un-pizza-y they turned out, well, Peter Reinhart HAS SOLVED ALL YOUR PROBLEMS. Both his whole wheat and multi-grain crusts, from his Whole Grains book, are AMAZING! The only problem is they do not freeze nearly as well as the dough made from white flour. I have frozen the whole grain versions and while the thawed dough made a delicious pizza, the dough will never be nearly as supple and nice as it was before freezing…and his whole grain doughs are amazingly supple when not being abused by freezing them. So what I do instead is sub white whole wheat flour for the white flour in the Napoletana recipe, which makes a really nice dough and crust, and freezes better. The white dough does freeze nicer than the wheat, but I honestly sometimes can’t tell the difference between the two after taking them out of the oven. So here is the white whole wheat dough after mixing:
And here it is shaped:
So that’s my guide to pizza dough. I’ll have a post up soon about baking the pizza, and I’ll give you my (extremely easy and simple) pizza sauce recipe (please don’t buy prepared pizza sauce). You’ll have to wait because pizza crusts can’t be made in a day! (Well, they can, but they aren’t nearly as good.)