Sunday, September 12, 2010

Th Lazy Baker Makes Pizza

I am a baker, and occasionally lazy but not today. There are times when being in the kitchen for hours, lovingly stirring a pot of pasta sauce or chili, making cookies, baking bread and other such tasks is pure comfort and joy. Other times life gets hectic and all you want to do is get something good on the table at dinnertime without a lot of fuss.

It has been the former kind of weekend here at the ranch with lots of time to make fresh tomato sauce and stir polenta and concoct salad with lots of local veggies in them. Almost everything I made has already been posted before now, so even though pleasant hours were spent in the kitchen, there is little to post about.

Luckily for me NoHandle has sent me another guest post. Along with fond memories of pizza made by his Dad, he also passes on a quick pizza that he made for his sons when they were growing up. This pizza takes about an hour and a half total time to make, although most of that time is taken up with waiting for the dough to rise.

For you pleasure we have The Lazy Baker Makes Pizza, guest blogged by NoHandle:

The Lazy Baker Makes Pizza
By NoHandle

When my kids were younger (3 boys) they always liked pizza, as did my wife and I. Like my dad before me, I decided I could do a presentable job for a lot less money than the carry-out stores (Yeah, not just lazy, cheap too). Actually, when my dad made pizza there were no carry-out pizza stores; pizza was only available in Italian restaurants. Saturday night became pizza night at our house, and even with the extra time, it always seemed to be a rush job. Teen-age boys are always hungry. I don’t know where the recipe came from, but it has served me well over the years.

When I say lazy, I mean that this recipe doesn’t take a lot of time or effort, and uses some prepared ingredients. If you want to cook up your own sauce, go for it! The dough is a yeast dough, as you will see, but with rapid-rise yeast, and only one rise (and one kneading) it is both quick and easy. You can use whatever toppings you choose, but as Wallace Simpson once said, “You can never be too rich, too thin, or have too many mushrooms on your pizza.” Well, she said most of that, anyway. So mine was usually topped with as many mushrooms as would fit. Since this makes two pies, the other was often topped with pepperoni.

I will describe briefly the dough making process, and leave the recipe to speak to the rest. Add 1.25 Cups of warmed water (I microwave it) to the salt and yeast in the bottom of a medium-large bowl. Add in the flour. (It usually takes an extra .5 Cup or so to get the right consistency; it is sticky, but you can lift the dough without it dripping through your fingers. This is not critical, you will end up kneading in more after it rises.) I have always set the bowl in a shallow bowl of warm water, cover it with a towel, and let it rise until doubled in volume. This typically takes a bit less than an hour.

I then turn it out on a floured plastic sheet (from Tupperware, long, long ago) “pastry cloth” and knead in extra flour until it is no longer even a little sticky. I then divide into two even balls and roll it out each of them on the same sheet. You could toss it, but like the title says, I’m lazy. Also, I suspect the dough would not stretch well with so little time spent in its preparation. I usually made one round (12 inch) and one rectangular (9x13 or so) pie, because those were the pans we had. These are fairly thick crusts, but that’s the way I like my pizza, and it’s less work rolling them out.

After that, it goes very quickly, so you should preheat the oven when you start kneading the dough. I use a Pampered Chef pizza stone which slows the preheating considerably. I usually grease the pans lightly with cooking spray, but it doesn’t usually stick if I don’t.

So with that out of the way, here is the recipe:

Crust:
1 package rapid rise yeast
1.25 Cups warm water
.5 teaspoon salt
2 Cups unbleached all purpose flour

Toppings:
2 teaspoons crushed Oregano (dry)
1 small jar of thick spaghetti sauce (Ragu or one of the others)
12-16 ounces of shredded part-skim Mozzarella cheese (Dad used sliced fresh, and you can too if that is your preference, but his came out more like what you get with carry-out.)
8 ounces sliced mushrooms (I slice them about .125 inches thick)
Other toppings to taste

Add the oregano to the sauce, stir and let stand. Prepare the dough as described above. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spread the sauce over the prepared dough, sprinkle on the cheese, and add your toppings. Bake until the cheese (and the crust) starts to brown at the edges (about 25 minutes where I live, perhaps a bit less at sea level). Remove from the oven, slice and serve. If you ended up with extra dough, coat it with butter, cinnamon and sugar, and bake on the rack below the pizza on a cookie sheet. I usually bake each one separately, but with a large oven you can probably bake both together with no issues.

Pizza is a clean canvas. You can top it with lots of different things. Tomato sauce is sort of traditional, but you can leave that off and top with wild mushrooms, sliced onions and cheese (again mozzarella is more traditional, but not mandatory). We had that combination recently at a local new pizza restaurant, and it was yummy.

See that was pretty quick and easy. The total time is about 90 minutes, with only a few minutes of that (maybe 10) actually doing any work. Shiraz pairs nicely with this if you are out of Chianti.

4 comments:

Beth said...

Dad made pizza? That was definitely before my time. But I didn't even know Dad liked pizza or I would've made some when it was my night to cook.

The recipe sounds great; I'll have to make some soon.

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Hope all the kitchen chaos goes smoothly! Thanks for the nice guest post - delicious looking pizza.

Nick Pagliari said...

nice blog!! ;)
http://nicksketches.blogspot.com/

Next Sister Down said...

Beth, I don't remember that either! I remember when pizza kits started being marketed. I can still hear one of the ad jingles: "You no longer have to wander to a restaurant or to Rome, but with Betty Crocker pizza, you make easily at home. PIZZA!" But I seem to recall using Chef Boyardee canned pizza sauce and refrigerator biscuits for the crust and slices of mozzarella, not the kits. I also remember us kids making the pizza. Maybe Dad supervised?