Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Adventures in Homemade Pizza

Moving off campus came with the luxury of a full-sized oven, and to celebrate it my roommates and I tried making homemade pizza as one of our first culinary adventures. We quickly realized that making pizza is actually really easy, and enjoying our creations with some Yellowtail red wine made us feel slightly more adult in our dilapidated, but homey, apartment. This developed into a Thursday or Friday night ritual that we remained faithful to for the next year. 20 to 25 pizza attempts later, and we’ve learned a few things about how to make a good pizza.

First, a solid crust recipe is a crucial. As a base, use 1 package of dry yeast, 1 cup of warm water, 2 cups of bread flour, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Additional flourishes include giving the dough a little zest with basil, oregano, or red pepper or going whole wheat with a half regular and half whole-wheat flour mix. We learned the hard way that using all whole-wheat flour makes things a bit dense.

After a year of experimentation a few solid recipes have emerged. Obviously during our first pizza attempt we stuck to a classic cheese pizza. Its success depends highly on a good cheese selection--low-fat, pre-shredded won't work well.

As we became more adventurous with our pizzas, we tried making a pizza with some of my roommate’s homemade pesto. A basic crust layered with red sauce, pesto, feta cheese, red onions and was delicious. In another particularly ambitious pizza-making session we made our own buffalo chicken pizza by layering blue cheese, chicken, chopped red onions and celery with buffalo wing sauce.

We also expanded our taste for vegetables after realizing how much more creative and gourmet we could be by using them on our pizzas. Zucchini, for instance, is amazing on pizza. Veggies should be slightly precooked with a little olive oil, fresh basil, tomatoes, or onions before throwing them in the oven with the pizza.

Over our year of making pizzas there were many failures and agreeable arguments due to failing to let the dough rise enough and creating cracker crust, over cooking the vegetables and losing all the crunch, or picking the wrong temperature on our finicky oven and singing the pizza. But, all things considered, everything we made was eaten and we got closer in the process.
Photos by Sika Gasinu.

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