Sunday, November 7, 2010

Continuing Tradition

In our household, the Wife and I have a few traditions. Every Thanksgiving we have a Vegan Orphans Dinner -- people from out of town without any family come over, on our anniversary, the Wife and I go to an apple orchard and pick apples, and on Sunday evenings, I make pizza for dinner. Well, okay, there's also the slightly less beloved Sunday tradition called Brandon-burns-the-hell-out-of-his-forearms-taking-the-damned-pizza-out-of-the-oven, but we won't talk about that.

A while ago, I decided that I needed to learn how to perfect the most important part of any pizza, thin, crunchy, cracker-like crust. Okay, if you thought I was going to say something different, you should stop reading this blog right now because I don't think you and I can agree on anything ever again.

Here's how to make a perfect cracker crust every time. Oh, and I learned this the hard way, but a pizza stone or some pizza stone-like implement is a requirement for making good crust. If thin, perfect crust is important to you (and you shouldn't still be reading this otherwise), you're going to need a stone.

Start with 1/2 cup warm water and add 2 tsp. yeast to it. Interesting note to those that have been asked "If you're vegan, how come you still eat yeast?" Yeast is not an animal, it's a fungi, like mushrooms, so argument over.

Anyways, put the yeast in the water and mix it up, then put that aside for 10 minutes. In another, larger, bowl, add 1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour and 1 tsp salt. When 10 minutes are up, put 1 Tbsp olive oil in the water/yeast mixture, whisk for about 20 seconds, then dump the liquid into the bowl with the flour.

Stir with a fork until it starts to form into a ball, then knead that ball for 5 minutes. The dough will get a little sticky, but do not add more flour to the mixture. Just keep kneading until 5 minutes are up.

When you are done kneading, form the dough into a ball. Pour an additional 1 Tbsp of olive oil on the dough and roll the dough around until it's evenly coated with the oil. Cover the bowl you've used with plastic wrap and let the dough ball sit on the counter until it's doubled in size, about 1 hour.

In the meantime, you can begin preparing your toppings and, if you happen to be me, search around for some aloe vera lotion to soothe your soon-to-be blistered appendages. Tonight, I'm going to be a little bit lazy, I'm going to use some store-bought sauce. I'm going to use cheddar-style Daiya (it just seems a little thicker when it melts). I'm going to top that with seasoned artichoke hearts, some roasted peppers, and some Italian-style Field Roast links chopped and saut├ęd for a minute or so in olive oil.

When about 40 minutes is up, put your pizza stone in the oven and start to pre-heat to 500 Fahrenheit (or about 260 Celsius for all you normal people out there). When you're all warmed up, roll your crust to a good size pizza, about 16 inches (or about 40cm for all you normal... okay, it's not funny the second time, sorry).

Once you've got your crust rolled, here comes the really important part: put the crust in the oven (on your now toasty-hot pizza stone) for about 2 minutes. This will give the chance for some nice bubbles to form. When 2 minutes is up, pull the crust out of the oven, put your toppings on, and put the pizza back in the oven for about 8-10 more minutes, until it's browned, or blackened -- who am I to judge -- to your liking.

Now, this usually goes without saying, but when you take the pizza out of the oven, be careful. It can be a bit tricky to get such a round disc of awesomeness out of your oven. Once it is out, you may want to wait a minute or two for it to cool, but I can't blame you if you don't heed that warning.

Oh, and the best thing about tonight, no burns! Yay!

1 comment:

  1. i'm fairly short, and i still have burn marks in my armpits from my first job- pizza cook! reaching up into an oven is not recommended! and yes, a pizza stone will save most food, and human relationships