I have made homemade pizza forever, but it’s never been great. To me, at least. I’ve used the Pillsbury refrigerated pizza dough, and I’ve made my own non-authentic hybrid spread out thickly in a pan, but I’ve always known I could do better.
I’m also completely done with looking down at a $15 artisanal pizza and thinking, “I can do this.” Mark Bittman says any of us can, you know.
So last year, I got me mah pizza stone and peel and resolved to try.
With little success.
My issue was always the dough. Not surprisingly, since “tomato sauce” and “cheese” do not require highly involved skills. I spent hours (it seems) reading recipes and heated discussions and deeply scientific explanations of The Best Pizza Dough, and I’d always end up confused. Or caught short because, of course, everyone recommends fermenting your dough for days, and as much as I think about cooking and as much as I like to cook, the norm for me, honestly, is to look at the clock at 4 and think, Damn. Really? They want dinner, again?
Same thing happened today, albeit a little earlier, and since pizza had been requested, at about 2:30, I got all brilliant and started researching, “same day pizza dough.”
And guess what?
Best pizza so far.
I finally got the proportions right, and for once, my pizza didn’t stick to the peel and then flop over on the stone, spreading rapidly melting and then bubbling cheese everywhere. It slid off on that sucker, just like it’s supposed to!
And since making pretzels and other kinds of breads, I have finally understood the chemistry of gluten (a bit) and the reason behind a rest period. Even a few seconds makes all the difference between war and peace when it comes to dough. Quite simply, the more you fight it, the more it fights back.
They were small, and I cannot make a round pizza to save my life (yet), but tonight? A great victory in the pizza wars.
4:15, before we leave for Mass
6:00, back from Mass.
I will say that I have also used this fabulous foccaccia as a pizza, and it works, of course. The kids love it because they love the thick, airy crust. Bread is what they like, basically. But that’s an all-day project, which can’t start four hours before the hunger games begin.
Jim Lahey’s no-knead pizza crust is also on the list (I’ve never actually made the bread), but that requires more planning than I usually am capable of, as well.
Oh, and my ice cream maker died on me yesterday. I finished the batch in the freezer, the old-fashioned way – stirring it every thirty minutes to break up the ice crystals – and it was good. But I will definitely take my nice new little unitasker machine when it arrives on Tuesday. Thanks.