Tossin' em almost as good as papaFasu
Susan, Beth and Kevin are right. If there ever was a fear of baking bread (of the kneading variety), making pizza is the perfect way to to cure it. B and I finally decided to make pizza this week and I, obviously, was in charge of the crust. I decided to use Beth's Pizza Dough Recipe. I followed it exactly except for substituing using all-purpose flour for bread flour (Oddly, the market was out. I didn't know there was a huge demand for bread flour during Easter). Every thing went smoothly until it was time to shape the first pizza. Not thinking, I took the first third of the dough and started trying to shape it. Let's just say that when you take a rectangular log-ish shaped portion of dough and try to flatten and shape it into a circle, you won't be very successful.
Once it was my desired thickness, fairly thin, I realized it may be too big for our pizza stone. The remedy? Line up some crushed garlic along the perimeter of the dough and then fold and seal the edge of the dough over it. Garlic stuffed crust! Being that I was in charge of the crust and not really thinking about toppings and B forgetting we were making pizza, we didn't have a very large selection of toppings. Fortunately he had some shredded mozzarella and romano cheese and tomatoes at home and I had pasta sauce and asparagus. And 1, 2, 3... we have pizza!
Pizza 2: Asparagus and tomato pizza
Pizza 3: Two cheese pizza
The results were yummy! I couldn't stop from staring into the oven to watch the pizza cook, all bubbly and golden. The first pizza came out a bit off as B decided we needed to put cornmeal on the parchment before putting the dough on it. He didn't realized that I was going to be putting the pizza in with the parchment and thought the cornmeal was needed to help the dough slide off the paper. What the cornmeal ended up doing in this case was creating a less than crisp crust. Our theory is that the cornmeal kind of steamed the crust instead of allowing it to crisp up against the pizza stone. The crust on the other two were done without the cornmeal and they came out perfect. It wasn't floppy and had the perfect texture for a thinner crust pizza, chewy, firm and not too doughy.
Next time I will try to make a thicker crust. Given my fear of play-doh, the last thing I wanted happen in my first bread making experience was to discover undercooked dough as bite into my pizza (which as happened to me before and absolutely ruined my meal). Now that I'm more confident in my pizza dough skills, I will definitely attempt a thicker crust pizza.
Some things to remember for my future pizza making endeavors..
- Don't stretch out the dough too much while shaping it. It will distort as you transfer it to the parchment for baking (hence why pizza #3 isn't exactly round). A remendy for this could be putting the dough on the parchment just before finishing up the shaping.
- Plan toppings in advance. I definitely will use fresh mozzarella the next time around and also remember to get some fresh herbs as well. And if there's time, I definitely want to make my own sauce, too.
- Deseed fresh tomatoes or they'll "soggify" your pizza
This pizza dough experience was definitely an accomplishment for me. Not only did I make something that actually tasted like it's supposed to but I also got some validation as well. This is a very little known fact, but one of papaFasu's first jobs in San Francisco was at a pizza parlor. So of course he's a self-proclaimed expert on pizza, especially on the crust. So when he saw that I made pizza, he immediately displayed his skepticism. "You made pizza? You can't make pizza like that. Don't you know I used to make pizza?" He then picks up a slice, takes a bite, and says surprisingly, "This will work," which in papaFasu speak translates to, "This isn't half bad." He was impressed. So of course I'm smiling inside and say back to him, "You better know you whose daughter I am."**
So papaFasu, this crust's for you.
**(That's probably horrible grammar, but it's the best English translation I could come up with -- of course now that I think of it, the better translation for that would be, "Don't you know who my father is?").