June 11, 2012

Homemade Pizza

Matt has been asking me for a while now to make homemade pizza. Whenever this request has come up I usually throw it into the "I don't bake" category of my refusals, but when I found a recipe this weekend on allrecipes.com for a no-rise-necessary pizza dough, I finally gave in a decided I could handle the feat. 

The recipe still calls for dry-active yeast (which honestly freaks me out a little bit, but not quite to the extent that the bag of turkey giblets shoved inside the dead bird does) so I'm not really sure how the whole thing is pulled off, except that it turned out just fine for me after some minor adjustments to the whole process. The recipe I found calls for vegetable oil and I used EVOO instead, which I think gives it a better flavor. I made two pizza's this weekend, and the first time I added the yeast with the dry ingredients then added the water and oil afterwards, and the second time I dissolved the yeast per the package instructions in a sugar-water solution (Mom, stop with the chemistry going through your brain right now) and I think I liked the dough better after doing it this way, but Matt said he couldn't tell the difference.The recipe also said to bake the pizza at 375 for 25 minutes, but I've added a whole 10 extra minute (maybe even 12) to give the crust sufficient time to bake all the way down to the middle. There's nothing I hate quite like doughy-pizza crust. Blech!

The first night that I made the pizza we did basic pepperoni. I didn't do anything fancy like make my own pizza sauce. It came from a jar labeled "pizza sauce" that I bought at the store, and I didn't even grate my own mozzarella cheese. I think next round I'll go with the block of mozzarella and do the shredding myself just to save a buck or two but going with the pre-shredded package worked out great for my first attempt. This was the pizza that didn't quite bake long enough for my taste--we let it go only for the 25 minutes recommended in the recipe. We all ate it for dinner and it tasted great. The girls loved it and had the leftovers for dinner the next night too.

The second night that I made pizza, Matt suggested doing a chicken alfredo pizza, and I obliged as this might be my most favorite type of pizza there is. It turned out fantastic, and so I've decided to post the recipe here. I've had a few people ask for it since I posted my photo on Facebook last night, so to those of you who were interested, here it is!

*Side note, I fully plan on exploring more in the kitchen and whipping up some truly awesome pizza's (bbq chicken soon to come!) but I may never make a Hawaiian. I agree with a statement that Sean made once when he said, "Fruit does not belong on pizza! There is no place for fruit on pizza!" 

Pizza Dough:

3 cups all-purpose flour (bread flour or whole wheat may be substituted)
1 Tbsp white sugar
1 tsp salt
1 packet dry-active yeast
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 cup warm water 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine and mix dry ingredients together in mixing bowl. Add oil and water. Mix until a sticky dough is formed. Spread on lightly greased pizza pan or stone.

Top as desired. 
I used:
1 chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces, poached in water. 
2 cups fresh spinach, boiled along with the chicken. I added the spinach to the chicken while it was about half-way done as the spinach doesn't need to be in the boiling water as long as the chicken.
1/2 jar Bertolli's alfredo sauce, although I do have a great recipe for homemade alfredo sauce that I'll have to share sometime. Use whatever your favorite sauce is--if you're good enough to pull off imitations, try a google search for Olive Garden's alfredo sauce and see how that works out! I'll bet it's amazing with this pizza
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Black pepper

I spread the dough out on the pizza pan first (with a layer of olive oil underneath to prevent sticking) and then spread the sauce on top, I started by using the entire jar of alfredo sauce but realized that it was going to be waaaaay too much. I scooped half the jar back in and was very pleased with the end result. I mixed the mozzarella and parmesan cheeses together and sprinkled 3/4 the mixture onto the dough. After the spinach and chicken had been drained, I separated them and spooned a couple tablespoons of sauce onto the chicken and mixed that in with some black pepper. I spooned the chicken onto the pizza, making sure to spread it around evenly. I used a fork to scoop the cooked spinach onto the pizza and made sure that was spread around evenly as well. I topped that with the remaining cheese and sprinkled some more black pepper on the entire thing. 

Bake at 375 for 35-38 minutes, or until the center of the pizza dough is thoroughly cooked.

If anyone tries this out, let me know how it goes! Same if you changed anything in the recipe, I'm definitely open to improvements, suggestions. 

One thing I do have to say about this dough is that it's not the greatest pizza crust I've ever had in my life, but for someone who hates baking and kneading and measuring and dealing with flour in general, it worked out really well. I plan to throw some herbs into the mix at some point, maybe even some cheese to be mixed in as well. I think there's a lot of potential for some really creative, flavorful crusts, so we'll see what I can come up with!


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