Australian Avocado Pizza

I HAVE BEEN SO BUSY! I’ve been feeling bad about not posting, but yesterday I looked in my book database and realized it took me two weeks to read the last book I finished. That’s crazy! Usually I finish a book in two days. So believe me, I’m not being negligent because I don’t care about you. It’s just been an insanely busy summer.

In exciting news, Smuckalert is here! I told him I would make pizza Saturday night, so while the oven was pre-heating I asked him what he wanted on his pizza, and he asked me a strange question: “is it tomato- [read: to-mAH-to] based or avocado-based?” Whaaaat? In what country is the default pizza not assumed to be made with tomato sauce? Actually, I’m pretty sure the default in Australia IS tomato sauce, but Smucks assures me that “chicken avocado” is a normal pizza over there. I’ve ordered pizza in Australia and I don’t remember any such thing, but there is the fact that I would likely completely ignore a “chicken” anything pizza on a menu. My response Saturday night was, “I don’t have any avocados and I don’t know what the hell an avocado-based pizza is, so what do you want on your tomato pizza?” But I like to please Smucky and I was intrigued by this avocado pizza, so I decided it was perfectly okay to make pizza twice in three days and dragged Smucky to Wegmans this afternoon to stock up on avocados. Usually avocado-anything is “California-style” (and believe me, it’s appropriate), but I’m calling this Australian pizza because I really do think it’s mostly an Australian thing. The ingredients for this were mostly dictated by Smucks, so it’s also Smucky’s pizza.

Avocado Pizza

pizza dough – the ingredient amounts listed below are about enough for 2-3 large individual pizzas
2 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted, and chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
juice of 1 lime
4 frozen teaspoon-sized cubes of cilantro (Trader Joe’s sells this), or about a handful fresh, chopped
1/2 – 1 tsp salt
your favorite vegan “chicken” – I highly recommend Gardein – chopped into bite-sized pieces
thinly sliced onion
thinly sliced tomatoes
thinly sliced jalapenos
vegan mozzarella

If using frozen dough, remove from the freezer 1-3 days in advance, and from the refrigerator 1-2 hours before baking. Preheat the oven as high as it will go an hour before bake time.

Slice the avocados in half, peel and pit them, and roughly chop them, then place it in a food processor or blender.

Place the cilantro, garlic, and lime juice in the food processor or blender as well and blend until smooth. Add some water to thin so it’s a bit more spreadable than guacamole, then add salt to taste. Blend very well. Place in a bowl just big enough to contain it and cover it to keep it from oxidizing and turning brown.

Defrost the “chicken” enough to chop (if necessary) and chop into bite-sized pieces. Thinly slice the onions. Slice and chop the tomatoes.

Thinly slice the jalapenos.

Sprinkle some flour on your workspace and shape or roll out your dough, then transfer to a semolina- or cornmeal-dusted pizza peel. Spread a nice layer of avocado puree on the crust.

Top with the jalapenos, tomatoes, and onions.

Add the “chicken”.

Sprinkle with the “cheese”. I also like to dust it with Dragonfly’s Bulk, Dry Uncheese Mix, which I keep in a shaker.

Bake until crust is browned and “cheese” is melty.

Serve hot.

Cut with scissors because it’s the awesome thing to do.

Smucky has come a long way. When I met him nearly 10 years ago, he never would have been this happy about eating vegan food. I let him keep deli turkey and mozzarella slices in the fridge when he stays here, but when I asked him if he was going to put real cheese and chicken on his pizza, he said no, vegan was fine! He said he was a bit nervous about the “chicken”, but after trying it thought it was pretty good. That’s why I recommended Gardein. Every non-vegan I’ve given it to has really liked it, and I’m typically extremely wary of giving fake meat to non-vegetarians.

Smucks devoured his pizza and then helped me with mine…although he was rather displeased about the jalapenos on mine (I left them off of his).

Sometimes I worry I’m going to have to have Smucky’s laptops surgically removed from his face, but I insist on technology-free dinners. I try to extend the conversation after the meal for as long as I can before the boys return to their computers. Here is Smucky after dinner looking very deceptively cute…he’s actually being very evil. BUT I CAN’T TELL YOU WHY.

I worked from home today so I could keep Smucky company. I’m extremely busy at work these days and was quite wrapped up in it, but I did end up having to take a few pictures of the cats, busy as I was.

Thinking about submitting this one to Cat Fancy for their cover.

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I consider pizza one of the greatest foods in the world, and I can happily eat it the same way week after week. I consider myself very good at making pizza. Sometimes, though, I like to try something different. Today I thought I would use the dough I’d set aside for this week to make calzones instead of pizza. Calzones use the same ingredients as pizza, just wrapped up inside instead of spread on top, except the sauce: there is no sauce inside a calzone. Instead, you top it with the sauce, or serve the sauce on the side for dipping. Here is what I did:

First, I removed two containers of frozen pizza dough from the freezer (I made this batch with half white whole wheat flour) and let them rise in the refrigerator for a couple of days (overnight is fine). Then, a couple of hours (at least one hour) before bake time, I removed them from the refrigerator.

I pre-heated the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and chopped half a head of broccoli into small florets and put them in a baking dish. Then I chopped about 1/2 pound of cherry tomatoes in half and put them in another baking dish, to which I also added several cloves of smashed garlic. I sprinkled both with flaked salt then drizzled with olive oil and a touch of balsamic vinegar. The broccoli I roasted for about 15 minutes …

… and the tomatoes 45 minutes.

I removed them from the oven and increased the oven temperature to 500.

I made a tofu ricotta by putting about half a pound of firm tofu in a bowl and adding about 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast, some flaked salt, one frozen basil cube, and the juice of half a lemon, then I squeezed all of that together until it was an even consistency. Then I mixed in a hand-full of Daiya mozzarella and a little bit of Daiya cheddar.

I made a marinara by pureeing a 14.5 oz can of whole tomatoes. I heated some olive oil in a small saucepan, added several pressed cloves of garlic, some chili flakes, flaked salt, and freshly ground pepper, and after sauteing for a minute or two, I added the tomatoes, some dried oregano, and a frozen basil cube. I brought that to a boil, then reduced the heat, covered, and simmered for 10 to 15 minutes.

Next I formed the pizza doughs into circles, though not as thin as I make them for pizza, maybe 1/4″ thick. I placed some of the broccoli, roasted tomatoes, and “cheese” mixture in the middle of each, …

… then I folded each over in half and sealed the crusts closed. (You can brush the edges with water to make them stick if you need to.) I poked some holes on top and brushed them with some garlic oil.

They both got transferred to the oven and baked for about 15 minutes or until nicely browned.

Serve with a tossed salad, with the sauce on the side (or spoon the sauce over the calzones).

I tried to get a picture of the inside of the calzone, but we’d gone downstairs – where it is quite dark – and all I had was my phone. I’d probably be better off just not having any picture at all, but I went through the trouble, so here you go:

This was an interesting change of pace but will never replace good old regular pizza in my book.

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In my last post I described how I make my current favorite pizza dough. And now I will explain how to turn it into a full-blown pizza of deliciousness.

First, remove the dough from the refrigerator one hour before you wish to bake it. At the same time, preheat your oven as high as it will go; mine is 550 degrees Fahrenheit, but yours may only be 500. Jeff Varasano, from whom I got the dough recipe, has rigged his home electric oven to heat to 800 degrees, which I kinda want to do, but a) my landlord probably wouldn’t be too keen on it and b) my oven has caught on fire twice as it is so I’m thinking messing with its temperature control is probably a bad idea.

Have your pizza stone in the oven while you are preheating it. I guess you can try baking this pizza on the back of a baking sheet if there is simply no way you can possibly purchase a pizza stone, but I don’t think I could live live without one. I have a Fibrament and it never leaves my oven. Of course, most of the things I put in my oven are pizza or bread, so it’s rather a necessity for me. I don’t like those small, thin, cheap pizza stones you can buy at places like Bed Bath and Beyond. Any stone you are expected to load and remove with the pizza is not a good stone. It needs to be preheated with the oven, and it needs to remain in the oven to cool down with the oven, otherwise it will crack and break. This has happened to me, so I can attest that that is true. Good baking stones are expensive, and many people recommend unglazed quarry tiles as an inexpensive alternative. You can get these at places like Lowes and Home Depot, and I used them for a short time. I found them annoying to deal with because I bake so frequently, but if it’s the difference between having a baking stone and not, go for it.

While the dough is coming to room temperature and the oven and pizza stones are preheating, prepare your toppings. Toppings should be minimal. Even before I was vegan, I hated a lot of junk on my pizza, even the extra cheese well-meaning people wanted to add when they heard I was vegetarian. Especially extra cheese. It’s just gross! Even as a vegetarian, I believed all of the goodness of a pizza was in the dough and the tomato sauce. And traditionalists agree with me. So if you decide to add anything more than I describe here, please try to keep it to just one thing.

There is no need to ever buy pizza sauce. I’m astounded they even sell that stuff. Just buy the highest quality, best tasting canned tomatoes you can find. This is what I’m buying right now, even though as Jeff Varasano points out, this brand using deceptive advertising by burying the fact they are just “San Marazano Brand,” and not really grown in the San Marzano region of Italy.

I buy the whole tomatoes and crush them on low speed in a food processor.

Although I sometimes treat Mark to vegan pepperoni, usually the extent of my toppings are:

Currently we use Daiya mozzarella, although I technically prefer Cheezly. Unfortunately, we can no longer get Cheezly. In the shaker is Dragonfly’s Bulk, Dry Uncheese Mix.

After the dough has sat out of the refrigerator for an hour, sprinkle some bread flour on a workspace and roll one of the dough balls in it lightly, then flatten.

Use your fingers to make a little moat around the perimeter, about where you expect to spread the sauce to, and stretch the pizza out a little.

If the dough resists being pulled out, that is, it springs back, let it rest for several seconds before trying again. If you are making more than one pizza, you can use this time to begin preparing the next dough.

Gently push the dough outwards, keeping a thick lip around the edge, until the pizza is about 12″ in diameter – but do’t worry about keeping it in a perfect circle.

Jeff Varasano recommends NOT using semolina or cornmeal to dust the peel, but I like using one or the other – just a little bit. I once read that cornmeal acts like little casters for moving pizza off peels onto stones, which is an image I like. In any case, transfer the crust to a peel.

Once the crust is on the peel, work quickly so the pizza does not get soggy. Smear some of the crushed tomatoes onto the crust, using less than you think you need – it will thicken up as the pizza bakes. A single 14.5 ounce can of tomatoes should be enough for three 12″ pizzas.

Next I add some dried basil (unless I have fresh on hand), and dried red chili peppers, then a small amount of Daiya.

Then I sprinkle it with some dry “cheese” and just a very few flakes of Maldon salt.

Transfer the pizza to the stone and bake until it’s beginning to char. This takes about five minutes for me.

Remove from the oven.

While I was preparing the pizzas, Mark was cuddling his little babies. Torticia loves to be held like a baby!

Gomez…he needs to be in the right mood.

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Cheezy Pizza Crust

Pizza is a constant in my life; one of my top five favorite foods, and of those, the one I eat most often, almost every week. My pizza dough, on the other hand, is not constant. I make one type for a few months in a row and then decide to change it up. I’ve read Jeff Varasano’s pizza tutorial before and incorporated parts of it into my own pizza making, but a few weeks ago I decided to follow it almost exactly. His page illustrates one of my favorite things about the internet. This guy loves pizza – I daresay as much as Peter Reinhart! – and although he owns a pizzeria that I’m sure he hopes you will come spend money in, he wants to share his knowledge with you for free even if you don’t. His page on making pizza is just stuffed with both passion and information, and I love it!

The first time I made it, I intended to make the dough exactly the way he instructs you to, which is very traditional – nothing but flour, water, salt, and yeast. (Another thing I love about his method is the use of wild yeast, or sourdough. I don’t know if you know this about me, but I am a sourdough fanatic.) But on a whim – I think the reality is I’d just bought a bunch of nutritional yeast and it didn’t all fit in the container I have for it, so I was trying to use the excess up – I mixed a bit of the yeasty goodness in with the flour. Although I (and my cats) love nutritional yeast, I felt a little guilty defiling Jeff Varasano’s very pure recipe with the stuff, especially since as a vegan, I love it when pizzerias use very traditional crusts instead of all those disgusting American things like cheese-stuffed monstrosities. But you know what? I did it anyway and I’m not sorry! I loved the crust! I’ll make it sans nutritional yeast sometime and I’m sure it will be just as if not more extraordinary, but damn it, this was great. But feel free to simply omit the nutritional yeast if you want to be pure or just don’t like or have it; there is no need to adjust the water.

Again, this recipe and technique, other than the nutritional yeast, are from Jeff Varasano’s page and all credit goes to him. I’m just offering my photos of the process and suggesting you read through his very thorough instructions as well for a great background.

If you don’t have a sourdough starter, there are tons of resources online, including my link above, on how to make one. My current starter is from King Arthur Flour, and actually, if you asked me nicely and live in the continental US, I’d probably be willing to send you some of mine. If none of those options are happening, you can try omitting the sourdough starter and increasing the instant yeast.

Cheezy Pizza Crust
makes enough for six 10-ounce/300 gram (about 12″) pizzas

1000 grams (35.5 oz) bread flour (I prefer, as does Jeff Varasano, King Arthur) divided into 750 and 250 grams.
36 grams (1.25 oz) nutritional yeast (optional, though it won’t be “cheezy” without it)
36 grams (1.25 oz) salt
3 grams (.1 oz) instant yeast (optional)
75 grams (2.7 oz) sourdough starter
660 grams (23.3 oz) water

Weigh out 1/4 of the flour (250 grams) and set aside.

Put the other 3/4 of the flour (750 grams) into the mixer bowl and add the nutritional yeast.

Cats and nutritional yeast! They love the stuff! Bad cats, get out of there!

Weigh the salt …

(Torticia would NOT leave me alone!)

… and instant yeast, if using …

… and the sourdough starter.

Put all that stuff in the mixer bowl.


Weigh the water and add that.

Mix on low speed for about a minute, until it’s all combined. Then let sit for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes of rest, start the mixer back up and let it run for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, begin adding the rest of the flour, spoonful by spoonful, over the course of another 3 minutes, for a total of 8 minutes of kneading. On a Kitchen Aid mixer, you can go up a speed when you begin adding the rest of the flour; my Bosch is powerful enough that I don’t bother. After the 8 minutes of kneading, when all flour has been incorporated, it will look like this:

It’s quite tacky, by the way. This is a very wet dough. Don’t be alarmed.

Cover and let it rest for another 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare your containers. If you will be making any pizzas in the next three days, store the dough for them in a container at least three times larger than the dough volume. Ideally you would freeze the dough in the same container you will rise it in, but who has that much freezer space? Not me, so I store the doughs I will be freezing in containers that just fit them. Whether freezing or refrigerating, spray a very tiny amount of olive oil into each container and wipe it around to completely cover the surface.

This is a dough I’ve just removed from the freezer.

I want to bake it tomorrow, so I removed it from the tiny container and moved it to a larger one (which I treated with another tiny amount of olive oil) that will allow it to rise in the refrigerator over the next 24 hours. When you want to bake a frozen dough, just do the same, at some point 1 to 3 days before bake day.

After the dough has rested again, sprinkle a small amount of flour on a work surface and spread it around a bit. I really used way too much flour in the picture below; you don’t need that much. Pour the dough onto the flour.

Round the dough, allowing it to become lightly dusted with flour. You’ll be surprised how easy this is – you don’t need to manipulate it very much. It should feel very soft and well, just wonderful. Don’t go ruining it by allowing a lot of flour to get mixed in – just keep a little bit of flour on the surface to keep the dough from being too sticky to touch.

Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces; you can weigh them or just eyeball it. Form little rounds.

Place each round into a prepared container. Pizza Inspector Torticia is giving my containers the old smell test. I hope I passed.

(By the way, the kittens are not allowed on the island when I’m working with dough, and I thoroughly clean it before and after working dough…)

This has been long, so I’ll do a separate post later this weekend when I bake the pizzas. To tide you over, here’s an earlier photo of a pizza made using this dough:

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Grilled Pizza

Yet another post without a recipe, but I grilled pizza for the first time today and took pictures, so I thought I’d post them in case it inspires anyone else. I know grilling pizza is hardly revolutionary, but I had a lot of fun and would like to share.

First I lit the fire and let the coals burn until they were mostly white. Although it’s in the mid-90s today, which makes slaving over a hot grill a bit ridiculous, one advantage grilling pizza has over baking it in the oven is it takes the oven and baking stone nearly an hour to come up to temperature, whereas the grill took next to no time. I also wasn’t heating up the house, although I am about to turn the oven on to bake a couple loaves of pain au levain, so I’m not doing so well at keeping the kitchen cool after all.

While I was waiting for the briquets to be ready, I got everything ready on the table. Here are our two pizza crusts on peels; I’ve sprayed the tops of them with olive oil. I used my whole wheat version of Peter Reinhart’s New York style dough. I made my normal pizza sauce: saute crushed garlic and red pepper flakes in olive oil, add crushed fire-roasted tomatoes, salt, pepper, and, sometimes, oregano; cook for 10 minutes and optionally puree. I also had Daiya mozzarella ready.

When the briquets were ready, I spread them out, then put the rack on the lower position. Then I picked one crust up and put it on the grill olive oil side down.

I sprayed the top with more olive oil then closed the grill for a minute or two. When I opened it, the crust was bubbling like crazy!

When the crust was firm enough that it was no longer sticking to the grill, I used an aluminum peel to remove it and flip it over onto the wooden peel. it got a bit darker than I’d intended, but I don’t think it matters – charred is good!

I added my toppings to the grilled side …

… and returned the pizza to the grill, sliding it off the peel.

I closed the grill and let it cook for a few more minutes, checking it every minute or so until the bottom was done and the “cheese” was melted.

It was hard to take a picture of the bottom because it really takes more than two hands to hold a pizza up and photograph the bottom of it, at least when it’s too hot to touch, but here’s my attempt at doing so:

Verdict? This was great! There’s room for improvement: next time I’m going to try to roll the dough out thinner, and I might move the rack to the upper position so the pizza has a chance to bake a little longer before starting to burn. But considering it was my first time grilling pizza and only my 4th or 5th time ever using a grill, the results were very impressive, and very tasty. I’m definitely going to use this method for our weekly pizzas whenever the weather allows.

In other news, I’ve had a very productive weekend. I mentioned in my last post that I recently bought a whole bunch of vintage mason jars to store dry goods in and I even posted a picture of my newly organized baker’s rack. Well, yesterday I found a great rack for storing my jars in my favorite antique store – it’s the perfect size for the jars and fits perfectly next to my baker’s rack – and what’s more it was only $24! How awesome is that?!

And here’s that whole side of the kitchen:

Where I had some of the jars on the baker’s rack, I moved them to the new rack. Then I emptied half of my over-stuffed cupboard onto the newly-freed shelf on the baker’s rack, which means for the first time in years I can actually see what I have. I discovered I have three bottles of apple cider vinegar because I could never see the bottles I already had. THAT gave me plenty of space in that cupboard to spread out my canned goods so I can see THEM and so they are not falling on my head when I open the cupboard door. I always feel so good about life when I organize the kitchen! And now that my dried beans are out on display in the dining room, I’ll see them and think to make them more often, in fact, I’m soaking some right now for dinner tonight!

And finally:

I hope everyone has had as nice a weekend as I have! Apparently Torticia has.

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New York-style Whole Wheat Pizza Dough, and finished pizzas

One of the first posts I made on this blog was for pizza dough, which is appropriate because I love pizza more than just about any food. I’ve been using a different crust than that of my original post lately, though, although it’s still one from my bread-baking hero Peter Reinhart (who is teaching a class I’m attending next week and I’m very excited!), so when I made a new batch this week, I thought I’d write it up for the ole blog.

This recipe is from Peter’s pizza book, American Pie, which, like all of his books, is amazing and I urge you to buy it if you are anywhere near as obsessed with pizza as I am. One of the reasons I wanted to make this post, though, is this is the only one of Peter’s books I have that does not list weights for all ingredients, and I only bake by weight, so I wanted to finally permanently convert it to weight measurements and write it down. It’s the New York-style crust from that book, although instead of bread flour, I use white whole wheat. Which means I’m eating healthy when I eat an entire pizza every weekend, right?

Because I really want you to buy Peter’s books and because I have a lot of respect for him (and most cookbook authors), I am reluctant to post his recipes, but since it is available here, I’ve decided it’s okay in this case. I’ve tried most of the doughs in this book and they are all good, but this one is probably my favorite because he says it’s the crust you find all college towns across the US, and who doesn’t think pizza never tasted better than it did at 3 am in college? Well, I’m convinced that my pizza does actually beat that of Pizza Palace (my local pizza joint during college) and you don’t need 13 beers to think so.

Whole Wheat New York-style Pizza Dough

Okay, I confess. Another reason I’m making this post is to show off the might of my mixer, Hieronymous. Hieronymous is a Bosch Universal Mixer (and by the way, if this post convinces you you need one, Pleasant Hill Grain, to whom I’ve linked, are terrific people to buy from). After destroying two Kitchen Aid mixers within the course of a single year by overworking them, I made Mark give me Hieronymous for Christmas a couple of years ago. I like to make a triple – yes, triple – batch of pizza dough at a time, which means I only have to make it every couple of months. I’m including the tripled weights for my own reference. Don’t try making that amount in a Kitchen Aid, unless you are looking for an excuse to buy a Bosch. I’ve included the volume and weight measurements for a single batch, but please do yourself a favor and buy a scale if you have any interest in bread baking.

Single Batch, Volume Single Batch, Weight Triple Batch, Weight Ingredient
5 1/2 cups 22.5 oz 60 oz white whole wheat flour (or bread flour)
2 tsp .5 oz 1.5 oz salt
1 1/2 tsp .2 oz .6 oz yeast*
3 Tbsp .8 oz 2.5 oz olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp .7 oz 2 oz sugar or honey (read: agave nectar)
1 3/4 cup (or a little more) 14 oz 42 oz water**

* I replace the yeast for a single batch with the discard from my sourdough starter. I do this more so as not to waste the starter (which would otherwise be thrown away) than for the flavor, although I’ll take sourdough flavor any way I can get it. So for my tripled batch, I used .4 oz. yeast + about 1/2 cup sourdough starter discard.

** Whole wheat flour (red more so than white) absorbs more water than white flour, so you may end up needing to use more than what Peter calls for. I’ve compensated above by using slightly less flour instead of more water in the tripled batch; you may need to adjust the water or flour slightly in the single batch.

Weigh or measure the flour into the mixer bowl. Here’s Hieronymous (or his bowl, anyway)!

Weigh or measure the salt; add to the flour.

Weigh or measure the yeast; add to the flour. Salt kills yeast, so try to add it to the bowl somewhere the salt is not.

Weigh or measure the olive oil; add to the flour.

Weigh or measure the agave nectar or sugar; add to the flour. (Tip: weighing or measuring the olive oil before the agave nectar makes the agave nectar easier to transfer to the mixing bowl.)

Hieronymous’s mixing bowl with the ingredients so far (including my sourdough starter for some of the yeast):

Weigh or measure the water then add to the mixing bowl. Here is Hieronymous heroically handling ingredients nearly to the rim of his bowl, and no, my friends, he will not struggle!

Hieronymous is now ready to go!

Mix on low speed for about two minutes, until the dough starts to form a rough ball.

Let rest for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, find storage containers for the dough and spray each with olive oil. You are not supposed to reuse and freeze containers like these Earth Balance containers, but they happen to be the perfect size for my pizza doughs. Peter suggests making three 12-ounce crusts from a single batch of this dough (which will make three 12″ pizzas), but instead I make five crusts per single batch (they end up being between 7 and 8 ounces each) for individually sized pizzas. So I had to find 15 containers. When selecting containers, keep in mind that the dough will probably double in the refrigerator, however, it won’t grow in the freezer, so to save freezer space, you could freeze them in small containers and transfer them to larger ones when you move them to the refrigerator the night before baking. That’s too much effort for me.

Resume mixing on medium-low or medium speed for 5 minutes, adding flour or water by the tablespoon if necessary to obtain a tacky but not sticky dough.

Sprinkle some flour on a workspace and dump the dough onto it, coating in just enough of the flour to keep it from sticking.

Divide the dough into equal parts.

Here are all my individual dough pieces waiting to be shaped:

Round each piece, pinching the dough together at the bottom to create surface tension, as if you were making a roll.

Pop the rounded dough into an individual container and roll it around in the olive oil to coat.

Close each container and immediately place the number of crusts you want to make in the next three days in the refrigerator. Promptly freeze the rest.

The dough will stay good in the refrigerator for 3 days, so move as many as you need from the freezer sometime between the night before up to three days before you plan to use it. I assume that most weekends we will end up having pizza, but it could end up being for lunch or dinner on any day, so I just move two containers to the fridge on Friday night. And if we haven’t eaten them by Monday, we have pizza for dinner on Monday night.

My mother-in-law and her sister are visiting us this weekend. When they were here earlier in the week, I promised them pizza this weekend, so after whipping up the dough as documented above on Wednesday night, I had a little pizza party tonight. An hour before you’d like to serve the pizza, turn your oven up as high as it will go; mine goes to 550 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have a pizza stone (which I strongly recommend), preheat it as well. Remove the dough containers from the refrigerator and allow them to come to room temperature. This picture shows how much the dough has risen; sometimes it rises so much it pushes out of the container, but this batch has restrained itself a bit. Keep the containers covered while they sit.

Meanwhile, prepare the pizza sauce. Heat some olive oil in a small saucepan, then add a few cloves minced or pressed garlic and cook for a couple of minutes. Then add some crushed or diced tomatoes (I like Muir Gardens fire-roasted crushed tomatoes) and some freshly ground salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, them remove from the heat. You can puree it if you’d like; I always do when I used diced tomatoes and only sometimes do when I used crushed tomatoes.

The toppings I prepared were: Daiya mozzarella, caramelized onions, sliced heirloom tomatoes, vegan pepperoni, ground vegan Italian sausage, sliced jalapenos, and various herbs and spices. Usually when we have company, I do a prepare-your-own-pie thing, so here I’ve made a little assembly line of the various toppings.

After the oven has been heating and the crusts have been resting for an hour, dust a pizza peel with semolina or cornmeal. If you don’t have a pizza peel, you can use the back of a cookie sheet. I once read somewhere that cornmeal acts like little casters, rolling your pizza off the peel and into your oven, which was an image I liked. You can’t actually see the semolina I used in this picture, but believe me, it’s there. Don’t use too much because it’ll just end up burning in the oven, but use enough to keep the dough from sticking to the peel or cookie sheet.

Sprinkle a moderate amount of flour on a work surface. Remove a single pizza dough from its container, flatten into a small circle, and place in the sprinkled dough. Flip it over to coat both sides in flour, but try to only use as much flour as you need to prevent the dough from sticking to the work surface or your hands. If the dough springs back after you roll it out, let it rest for 5 minutes then try again.

Use a rolling pin to roll out a pizza crust to your desired thickness and width, flipping the dough several times and rubbing it in the dough to prevent sticking on both sides.

Transfer the rolled-out dough to your prepared peel or cookie sheet; you can pick it up and place it there or just sort of drag it onto the peel.

Top with some sauce, leaving room at the edges for holding. My sauce was pretty thick tonight for some reason; often it is much thinner than this. Don’t worry about thinnish sauce – it will thicken as it cooks. You may need less sauce than you think, as well. Don’t add so much it makes the dough soggy. This is really almost too much sauce.

Sprinkle with herbs like oregano, red chili flakes, dried basil, etc.

I like to bury my toppings under the “cheese” because they tend to burn if you put them on top of the cheese. I’m usually a minimalist when it comes to pizza. Even before I was vegan, I preferred a simple cheese pizza, light on the cheese. As I was entertaining tonight and had prepared several different toppings, I ended up piling some of all of them on my pizza, but I don’t really recommend this as it makes the pizza too heavy.

Transfer to the oven. If you don’t have a pizza stone, you can bake the pizza on a pizza pan or the back of a cookie sheet – the same one on which you built the pizza if you don’t have a peel. I’m a snob and don’t think I could ever go back to baking pizza on anything other than my Fibrament baking stone. I use it for bread as well, and in fact, it never leaves my oven. It does take a long time to heat up (45 minutes, at least), but it makes for a perfect crust.

Bake until done. That’s pretty nebulous, I suppose, but how long it takes will depend on the size and thickness of your pizza, the type and amount of toppings, how hot your oven gets, and probably a host of other factors. It’s a quick process, though, possibly a lot quicker than you think. Mine usually take 5 minutes.

Commercial vegan cheese probably isn’t the healthiest thing in the world for you, but other than that, if you use whole wheat flour for the crust, this not the diet nightmare that most pizzas are, so feel free to indulge every weekend!

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Mexican Pizza; Lentil Orzo Soup

I’m just going to skip having a Thanksgiving post, because my Thanksgiving was nearly identical to last year, and although Mark has been happily gorging himself on leftovers, I didn’t do anything particularly creative or unusual. I hope everyone – even you non-Americans – had a great Thanksgiving, however!

As per my usual routine, I moved two pizza doughs from the freezer to the refrigerator before the weekend. We usually end up having pizza at some point during the weekend, but what with the Thanksgiving leftovers and various social obligations, it didn’t happen this weekend. Which left me with pizza dough that I needed to use tonight. But I wanted to try a different approach from my usual, pretty traditional pizza, so tonight I made Mexican pizza:

Here’s what I did:

Mexican Pizza

up to 4 batches individual-sized pizza doughs
12-16 oz vegan ground “beef” (“mince” for you non-Americans)
1 packet taco seasoning (I found some taco seasoning for yuppies packet at Wegmans)
8 oz tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp Mexican oregano
canned or fresh jalapeno, sliced
vegan mozzarella, grated (I used Cheezley)
vegan cheddar, grated (I used Daiya)

Preheat the oven and a pizza stone to 550 Fahrenheit (or as high as it will go).

In a heavy sauce pot, heat some olive oil, then add the ground “beef”, saute the ground beef, add the taco seasoning, and saute another minute. Add the tomato sauce, water, tomato paste, and oregano. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, then simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Shape the pizza dough for each pizza and place on a peel. Spread the sauce mixture evenly on each pizza, then top with jalapeno slices and mozzarella and cheddar cheeses. Bake until done, about 5 minutes.

Next up is just a quick soup I threw together last week when I wasn’t feeling that great. I didn’t take pictures of the process or write it up earlier, because at the time I just wanted something soothing in my belly, but I did snap a photo of the finished product and it was very simple and really tasty, so, if I remember correctly, here’s what I did:

Lentil Orzo Soup

2-4 shallots (depending on size), or 1/2 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
red pepper flakes, if you are so inclined (to taste)
4 cups vegan stock or broth
3 Tbsp tomato paste
1 cup brown lentils
1/2 cup orzo (or other small pasta)
2 cups baby spinach
salt, to taste
juice of 1/2 lemon

Bring some olive oil up to temperature in a heavy soup pot, then add the onions, carrots, and celery. Saute for 5 minutes, then add the garlic and saute another couple of minutes. Add the stock or broth, tomato paste, lentils, and red pepper flakes if using. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the orzo and simmer another 15 minutes. Add the spinach and taste for salt, then simmer two or three more minutes. Add the lemon juice, then serve.

In not-at-all-food-related news, I went to see Jeff Vandermeer read in Baltimore last night. I’ve been a fan of his since I read City of Saints and Madmen, and I’m currently reading his latest, Finch (which he signed for me). In fact, I have only a few more pages left and as soon as I finish this post, I’ll finish it up.

I liked this picture because from reading his blog I feel as if he and I have a similar sense of humour, so I like that I caught him laughing:

In other book news, but more food-related, I forgot to urge you all earlier to buy Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day! I was a tester for this book (my name is in it! Mark’s so impressed!) – if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ve seen photos of some of the breads – and I can assure you that even the non-vegan breads veganized beautifully. I tested all but just one or two recipes from the book; Peter was gracious enough to at least pretend he cared about my vegan input even on non-vegan-sounding breads like Crusty Cheese Bread. They were all amazing, even the Crusty (Non-Dairy) Cheese Bread and the Babka. It’s a great book for novice bread bakers as well as the more experienced. My favourite thing about it was how easy it makes it to create a bread-baking schedule that works for people who work late hours but want fresh bread during the week. Most of the recipes are scaled for two loaves of bread, so I’d mix it up and bake one loaf during the weekend, then bake the second mid-week. The recipes and techniques are clear, the bread is great, and if any of you buy it (or any of his other books) and have any questions about veganizing the recipes, I’d be happy to help you. The recipes actually call for “any kind” of milk, which he makes clear includes non-dairy milks, so mostly it’s just eggs you need to substitute. Of course, many of the recipes are vegan as written. I know I don’t do many bread recipes on this blog, although bread baking is a particular passion of mine, but the reason is I pretty much just slavishly follow Peter Reinhart’s (and Jeffrey Hamelman’s) recipes. Although I do my own thing when cooking, I’m more shy about making things up when it comes to baking, and between Reinhart and Hamelman, I figure my bases are covered. If you are at all interested in baking your own bread, Artisan Breads Every Day is a great place to start. No, I’m not making commission on the book even though I was a tester – I just think Peter Reinhart’s books are really, really good!

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Meet Hieronymus the Bosch and look at some pizza

Ugh, I’ve been so busy lately. I haven’t had time to be very creative in the kitchen, but I thought I’d take the opportunity to introduce you to my early Christmas present from Smark: Hieronymus!

Hieronymus is an 800-watt Bosch Universal Plus Kitchen Machine. I asked for Hieronymus after killing two Kitchen Aid mixers in four years. When I first started getting into bread baking a few years ago, I came across recipes that called for 20 minutes of kneading and said, “no way!” I did a minimal amount of research and concluded everyone’s favorite Kitchen Aid would be good enough for my “kneads” (haha, you wouldn’t believe the mileage I’m getting out of that one lately), asked for one for Christmas and received it from my parents. And it did serve my needs for a while. I wish I had researched better or foreseen that I’d be making bigger, heavier batches of dough, because three years later the KA was dead, but as I told my mom (feeling pretty guilty that I’d killed my present in only 3 years when many people keep KA mixers for 20 years), I used it almost constantly in that time and I really solidified my seriousness about bread baking.

In a strange stroke of fate, the very day my original KA mixer gave up the ghost, my friend Lanet asked me if I knew anyone who needed a Kitchen Aid because she’d just upgraded hers although her old one was in perfect working order.

It took me only a year to kill Lanet’s mixer.

Kitchen Aids are simply not cut out for whole grain doughs or even large batches of white dough. What is cut out for whole grain and large batches of dough is the Bosch Universal Plus. Mark let me open the mixer as soon as it arrived even though it’s a Christmas present, because I was sad without a mixer. Plus Peter Reinhart is counting on me to test stuff! I immediately made two heavy loaves of whole grain bread and a dozen bagels. You may recall that in my bagel tutorial I said I had to knead the bagel dough in halves to avoid stressing out my mixer. Bagels are probably one of the #1 things that contributed to my mixer demise; they are a very stiff dough. My new best friend Hieronymus, however, kneaded the full batch with nary a complaint, in fact, I’m pretty sure he could have handled a double batch!

Hieronymus may look a little different than you are used to mixers looking. The drive shaft is located in the middle of the mixing bowl – which looks therefore a bit like a bundt pan – instead of separately, above it. This is the dough hook, which it comes with:

This gives the mixer a lower profile (fits better under counters) and means you can keep the ingredients completely contained during mixing (goodbye flour-covered counter tops!!), although it does make it a little awkward when removing sticky doughs after kneading. The pros outweigh the cons on that issue though.

It’s also not as noisy as my old mixer. I don’t have to pre-mix dough ingredients, I just weigh them, dump them in, and let the mixer bring them together into a ball. It’s SERIOUS about kneading and didn’t strain at all, no matter what I threw at it. Like six 12-ounce whole wheat pizza crusts. At once. Man, I love Hieronymus!! I’m completely enamored of this mixer.

Not only that, but the blender attachment came free with the package Mark got me. In fact, that’s what convinced me to switch from the DLX to the Bosch at the last minute and I do not regret the decision for a minute.

The Bosch was cheaper and I think probably easier to use (based on what I’ve read in many forums), and the blender is AWESOME! I’ve never used a Vita-Mix, but I’m willing to bet the blender on Hieronymus would give it a run for its money. My old favorite kitchen appliance was the mixie, but I’m afraid the Bosch is outdoing the faithful old mixie. I needed almond meal the other night. The dry grinder attachment on the mixie choked with just half a cup of almonds in it. I put two cups of almonds in the Bosch blender and in two seconds had perfectly ground almond meal. The blender can crack twice as many soy beans at a time as the mixie can, and it cracks them nicely. I haven’t tried making peanut butter in it yet, but if I can do that, I’m not sure what charm the mixie will have over me any more…. Poor mixie.

I REALLY researched the mixer I wanted this time. I’m on a lot of bread baking forums and mailing lists these days and the topic comes up often. Pleasant Hill Grain came up nearly as often as a great place to buy from, and if I’ve convinced you that you also need a more powerful mixer, I definitely recommend them. I was shocked to see the package arrive two days after Mark ordered it and that was with free shipping!

Do I sound like a commercial yet? I hate sounding like a commercial. But I really love my Christmas present and wanted to share!

And just so this isn’t a foodless post, here are some pictures of the pizza I made for dinner last night. I’m usually a very minimalist pizza topping person: I just like “cheese” pizzas, light on the cheese at that. But I had some rapini I needed to use up, so I sauteed it with some onions and garlic …

… added some red pepper strips for color and sweetness …

… and topped one of the whole wheat crusts I was telling you about:

I think vegan sausage would have been good on this particular pizza, too:



Earlier I explained how to make great pizza dough, that freezes exceptionally well and is perfect to have on hand for whenever you may need a pizza, which if you are anything like me is about once a week. Pizza has a bit of a bad reputation for being bad for you, but my homemade version, particularly when I use a whole wheat crust, is actually not bad at all.

In general, I’ve found the best thing you can do regarding cheese when going vegan is to forget it exists. I don’t usually try fake cheesy things, with the exception of a very yummy nacho cheese dip I make (which I will have to post sometime) and pizza. With pizza though, please keep in mind that cheese is totally optional. In fact, if you made the whole wheat crust that I suggest and top it with a homemade sauce (to avoid junk like high fructose corn syrup) and a thoughtful – but small – selection of fresh herbs and vegetables, such as sliced tomatoes, caramelized onions, and hot or sweet peppers, you won’t even miss the cheese and you’ll be eating a healthy meal! In fact, since I’m vegan I can’t advocate that you use real cheese on your pizza, but nor can I advocate you use vegan cheese if you aren’t vegan because you will hate it, so I encourage you to try it cheeseless! I like a very simple pizza, however, and since I’ve gone ten years without tasting real cheese, I’m very happy with using a bit of Cheezly or Teese.

Anyway, you need to decide at least 8-12 hours before that you want to make a pizza. Either remove the dough from the freezer and place in the refrigerator if you’ve frozen some (where it can remain for up to three days), or prepare it as I detailed earlier and let it rest overnight. Then, one hour before you want to bake the pizza do the following:

  1. Heat your oven, with a pizza stone in it, as hot as you possibly can. I’m afraid I consider a pizza stone essential. You can substitute inexpensive unglazed quarry tiles, available at places like Home Depot and Lowes, if you don’t want to fork out the money for a stone. If you decide to spring for the stone, get the thickest one you can find and ALWAYS pre-heat it with the oven and NEVER remove it from the oven while hot. (For this reason you will also be needing a pizza peel.) My stone simply stays in my oven at all times.
  2. Remove the dough from refrigerator. Liberally flour a workspace and place each piece of dough on it, turning to coat all sides with flour. Then flatten each ball into a circle about 1/2″ thick.
  3. Cover the dough circles with a clean towel and let them rest somewhere out of the reach of your cat. (I can’t tell you how many pizza crusts have ended up with little paw prints in them…)
  4. Make your sauce.
  5. Pizza sauce is super easy to make at home. It’s ridiculous to buy it. Here’s all you need:

    Pizza Sauce

    Makes enough for four personal-sized pizzas. (I halve this recipe for just my husband and myself.)

    1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
    2-4 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
    1 Tbsp olive oil
    salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste

    In a small saucepan over medium heat, add olive oil and allow to come up to temperature for a minute or two. Add garlic and stir for one minute.

    Stir in tomatoes and cook for about 15 minutes, until tomatoes have broken down a bit. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (I buy tomatoes with no salt added because I love using my salt grinder and salt pigs, and I figure, why should the tomato tinner have all the fun?)

    After the tomatoes are broken down a bit, remove sauce from the heat and allow it to cool a bit. When it’s cool, blend it until it is as smooth as you like. An immersion blender is easiest here, but you can also use a regular blender, a food mill, or if you like it chunky, you can just mash the tomatoes up with the back of a spoon or a potato masher.

    That’s it! You can also add spices like oregano and crushed red peppers, but I just sprinkle those on the pizza later. The reason I do that is because I can control the amount on each pizza to adjust for personal preference, and also if I have leftover pizza sauce, the less seasoned it is, the easier it is to throw into another dish later in the week. And taste the sauce before you add anything to it – it is really good without anything else added in!

    When your hour of pre-heating the oven and letting your crusts rest is up, prepare your peels, one for each pizza (if you are making more than two pizzas, or if you have a smaller stone, you will have to bake them in shifts). If you don’t have a peel, you can use the back of a baking sheet. To prepare the peel, sprinkle it with semolina or cornmeal:

    Next, remove any rings you may be wearing. I should have gotten a photo of this step for you, but I can’t shape a pizza and take a picture at the same time and considering my husband was (and is) busy ripping about 300 CDs for me today, I didn’t want to ask him to come do it. What you want to do, though, is make a fist with one of your hands, and drape the dough over it so your firt is in the middle. Then go around the edges with your other hand and gently pull. You can sort of bounce your fist a little and turn the dough, although I usually end up just grabbing the dough with two hands and pulling it into shape. Place on the prepared peel.

    Now, using the back of a spoon, smear the sauce over each crust. You don’t want too much sauce or the pizza will be soggy.

    If you’d like, sprinkle with dried herbs, I suggest oregano and crushed red pepper. (If you’d like to use fresh herbs – basil is fantastic – add them after the pizza has been baked, otherwise they will burn.)

    I was so excited about the imminent pizza I forgot to take a picture of them after adding the “cheese”, although you can see a similar picture in my earlier Teese post. I sometimes sprinkle finishing salt on top of the “cheese” because it makes it “sparkle”. Go easy on the “cheese” in any case. Add other toppings if you like; I love sliced tomatoes, caramelized onions, sun-dried tomatoes, and olives.

    I realized as soon as I put them in that I forgot the picture, so I snapped one just after putting it in the oven.

    They need to bake for about 5 minutes, depending on how hot your oven is. Keep an eye on them. In the meantime, figure out how you are going to remove them. I use a stainless steel peel like the one of the right:

    If you make a lot of pizzas, you should definitely invest in one. It’s also good for removing hearth breads. If you refuse to buy such a thing, I have successfully used a large stainless steel wok shovel to remove a personal-sized pizza before. If all else fails, I suppose you can hold a large plate under the oven rack and use an oven mitt to push the pizza onto it, although that may lead to a dirty oven mitt.

    Here’s the pizza when it’s about done:

    And the finished product:

    Let the pizzas cool a few minutes before slicing. As for slicing, I recommend using kitchen shears.



Pizza Dough

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.)

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