Hi There! I’m Bent!
Well, first off sorry for taking so long to do my first post of the year (provided you’re one of the people who has been annoyed by this.) I’ve had a few things eating up my time. This cute little puppy being one of them. His name is Bent. And he lives up to his name extraordinarily well. Now that the kitchen is back in working order he’s sniffing up some good stuff, like homemade pizza.
There’s nothing sexier than a great pizza straight out of the oven – except maybe… nah, never mind, there’s nothing sexier. (Although, this is an excellent topic to ponder. But yeah, going with pizza.) Firm, chewy, crispy, crust dripping with lovely, warm, melty, cheese just waiting for you to tear off a piece and bite right into it.
Hey there pizza. Now that’s sexy.
But there’s an odd thing happening with pizza lately, what couldn’t be simpler and more lovely has gotten complicated and overpriced. You can barely even find a pizza for under $15 or that isn’t loaded down with things like mashed potatoes, stuffed crusts, and whatever other abomination is popular this week. I couldn’t take it anymore. I decided to try to make the perfect home pizza. And have it available to me whenever I wanted. I feel like I’ve accomplished that.
The first step was getting a really good crust. One that was both crispy and chewy and worked equally well as a thick crust as it did as a thin crust. I found the right recipe without even much trying I just typed ‘best pizza crust recipe’ into google and it came up with Heidi Swanson’s take on a pizza crust recipe from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. The only thing that needed fiddling with was the oven temp and timing. I’ve created a picture version of what worked for me.
The second step was the sauce. I don’t like pizzas with a ton of sauce on them so I needed to make a sauce that packed a nice tomato punch in a small amount of sauce. The best way to do this to my way of thinking is to just stick a bunch of roma tomatoes in an oven over 300°f for a few hours until they’re sunken in. Just toss them in a blender with some spices and we’re done.
Then it was just a matter of figuring out how to have these pieces available to me fast. Well, pretty fast anyway. It doesn’t take much time it just takes pre-planning. For the crust you just freeze individual crusts and then toss them in a refrigerator to thaw a day before you’re going to eat them. For the sauce it means freezing individual portions of sauce. I used a ice cube tray, which yields about 1 1/2 T of sauce per cube, but you could also use a mini muffin tray or larger if you want bigger servings. Then just pop the sauce cubes out, put them in a freezer bag and microwave before using.
An added bonus to making pizza at home is that even though pizza is never going to be a diet food – if you make your own rather than eat the huge over-stuffed craziness you get most places, it will help stop the westward expansion of your ass. (Yes, that ass! The one you’re sitting on right now!) Near as I can figure a pizza decked out with sauce, veggies, some fresh mozzarella and basil comes in around 500 calories. And it’s seriously tasty.
4 1/2 cups bread flour, chilled
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1/4 cup olive oil
1 3/4 cups ice cold water
semolina flour (for dusting)
Mix together dry ingredients with paddle in mixer. With paddle mixing, slowly pour in olive oil followed by water. When ingredients are incorporated, switch to dough hook and mix for 5 – 7 minutes.
Pour dough out onto floured surface and shape into shape that will make it easy to cut into equal pieces.
Divide into 6 parts. Place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Place cookie sheet in a ziploc bag and place in the refrigerator over night or for up to 3 days.
(To freeze at this point just coat with a bit of olive oil and place in individual freezer bags.)
Two hours before you want to cook take individual dough balls out of refrigerator and flatten out. Cover and let sit.
One hour before serving, preheat oven to 500°f with pizza stone placed on the bottom of the oven.
Prepare pizza peel by sprinkling liberally with semolina flour. When oven has been preheated, use the floured back of your hands and knuckles to stretch it out into a round. Place on prepared pizza peel.
Top with your desired toppings. (My desired toppings are a bit of roasted tomato sauce, mozzarella, romano and gorgonzola cheese.) Slide onto pizza stone. Bake for 5 – 10 minutes, or until cheese is brown and bubbly. Once the pizza is out of the oven top with fresh herbs.
Munch on seriously good pizza.
Roasted Tomato Sauce
Preheat oven to 300°f. Cut 8 – 10 roma tomatoes in half. Roast for 2 – 3 hours. Toss into a blender with a couple of coarsely chopped shallots, 1 – 2 T tomato paste, garlic powder fresh herbs and salt to taste. Blend until saucy.
Freeze up individual servings in an ice cube or mini-muffin tray.