Tuesday, January 05, 2010

My new go-to pizza dough recipe

Shown here with tonight's offerings — for the kids, ham & mango; for the adults, ham, blue cheese, sautéed shallots and toasted pine nuts.

Recently I've been playing around a lot with the "no-knead bread" that is probably now an overplayed fad. The NY Times version of the recipe does indeed make a loaf with a "crisp crust and large, well-structured crumb," and it's pretty easy, but (a) it requires a Dutch oven, and my dark Calphalon one burns the crust a bit, and (b) it makes a great round loaf, which is great for parties etc. but no so much for the daily requirements of a family (i.e., slicing for sandwiches when the school lunch is deemed disgusting by your 9 and/or 11 year old). And while it makes a nice pizza crust, it's a bit difficult to handle on account of how wet the dough is.

I've had some success with Mark Bittman's faster, whole-wheat version — in fact, I quite like it a lot and my daughter seems to find it perfectly acceptable sandwich bread — but it does make kind of a dense loaf, and the spouse has used the word "veto" recently in reference to it.

I've found that by decreasing the water and increasing the flour slightly, you can get a dough that is just stiff enough to knead and shape, which can be used to make baguettes, bigger loafs or pizza dough. The idea of adding some rye flour to pizza dough came from the first decent baker to open an artisanal bakery in my hometown in the late 80s. Also, if you didn't plan 18 hours in advance, increasing the yeast a bit to compensate is fine for a pizza dough at least. Here's the starting-in-the-morning version I made today:

1. In the morning, before kids leave for school, mix together 3 cups white flour, 1/4 cup rye flour, 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp yeast in a medium-to-large mixing bowl. Mix in 1 1/2 cups water until a rough dough forms, cover with plastic wrap and put in a warmish place to rise (I put in on top of the fridge)

2. If you get the dough made by 8am, it should be ready to roll out by 5pm. Preheat oven to 450 degrees, with a pizza stone in if you have one. Turn out the dough onto a well-floured countertop and knead briefly. Divide in half, and roll out each half into a 15"-diameter round. Place rounds on sheets of parchment paper if using pizza stone or onto baking sheets if not.

3. Put toppings on pizzas, and bake each one for 10-15 minutes, until crust is done and cheese develops brown spots.


Angela McGregor said...

leave it on top of the fridge all day?

JK said...

Yeah, it's a nice warm place which helps with the rising (especially in the VT winter) and it keeps it out of the way of the rest of the kitchen hustle and bustle.