Pizza Night!

Pizza is one of my go-to dinners. Everyone loves pizza! Well, everyone who isn’t gluten free and lactose intolerant…. sorry sis! But for those who do eat wheat and cheese, pizza can be customized to everyone’s taste. I always make 2, and each one has 2-3 different toppings. When I asked Father what he wanted for Father’s Day, he said I should pick, so I made pizza. Normally, I would make a strudel, or tiramisu for a dessert for Father, but since my kitchen is still in a state of half-finished-ness, I opted for something more simple and made Michael Symon’s 3 Minute Chocolate “Cup” Cakes. Of course, nobody remembered to take a photo of the cup cakes, but they were delicious! A bit rich, but yummy. The trick with such a simple recipe is to use high quality ingredients, so I chose Valrona chocolate. 

But back to the pizza! Father has eaten the same lunch for the last 20 or 30 years. Almost every day. A salad, an apple, and a piece of focaccia, made by my mom. She used to buy the dough from Whole Foods or the like. Recently, I’ve been making the dough for her, since I’m at home, and it takes a whole 15 minutes, start to finish. Yep, I timed it. From getting the KitchenAid out, to washing it and putting it away. It would take longer to go to the store. I use the same dough that I use for the pizza.

This is so easy, that I have made it even on nights when I got home from work at 5:30. As long as you have a KitchenAid, or other stand mixer, you can make this super quick dough. While the dough rises, you can prep your other ingredients. My stand by-s are: tomato sauce or plain San Marzano tomatoes for the base (except for mom – she likes no tomato on hers) Mozzarella for the tomato-based pizza, and goat cheese for mom, caramelized onions, anchovies (for Father), spicy Italian sausage or pepperoni on 1/2 of one pizza, roasted red pepper on 1/2, and black kalamata olives for everyone. Basically, you can put whatever you want on there! This is a great solution when you have a family where everyone likes something different, like I do.

To bake the pizza, I usually use a pizza pan like this one, but have also used a pizza stone in the past (till my stone broke). I have a friend who swears by this metal baking steel, but I have yet to try it. She also swears by the 72 hour pizza dough that this guy has developed, but I haven’t tried that yet. Would love to see how it compares. I’ll have to experiment and get back to you all on that! In the meantime, here’s my recipe.

Pizza/Focaccia Dough

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (between 100 and 110 F)
  • 1 package(2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast – I like Red Star brand
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 1/2 – 4 cups all purpose flour
  • toppings of your choice

Directions:
Add water the the warmed bowl of a stand mixer (I put the mixer in the sink and let the water run into it as it warms, before I stick my measuring cup under the faucet). Add the yeast, sugar, salt and olive oil and mix well. Add 3 cups of the flour to the bowl, attache the bread hook, and turn on low speed. After a minute, add another 1/2 cup of the flour. Let the machine run on low for about another minute, then check the consistency of the dough. It should be soft, but not stick to your fingers. If it’s still sticky, add a little more flour. The amount will depend on your flour, and the humidity of your room. Once it’s no longer sticky, continue to knead in the machine for about 2-3 minutes, till it has formed a nice smooth ball, and the sides of the bowl are clean.

Add about a tsp of olive oil to a large bowl, and spread all around with your fingers. Gather the dough out of the stand mixer, make it into a nice ball, and place in the bowl. Cover with a damp towel, or a piece of plastic wrap. Put it in a warm spot in your kitchen and let it rise for one hour. After it has risen for an hour, or has about doubled in size, divide it into two pieces, and make your pizzas. Spread the dough out onto a pan or a piel if you’re using a stone.

For Focaccia: spread dough into pan, poke lots of holes in the dough and let it rise for another 10 minutes or so. Re-poke the holes to make sure they’re well pronounced, and then add some kalamata olives, pushing them down into the dough. Sprinkle with chopped rosemary, drizzle with a good olive oil, and sprinkle some fleur de sel or Maldon’s salt on top. Bake at 425 for about 15-20 minutes till light golden brown. Note: when I make the focaccia dough, I make one, and freeze one to make later. To freeze, do so before the dough has risen. Put about a tsp of olive oil into a ziplock freezer bag and smush it around so that the dough doesn’t stick. Place ball of dough in bag, squeeze out the air, and freeze for later. The dough should keep for about 3 months.

For Pizza: Preheat oven to 550 while you’re getting your toppings ready. Spread dough into pan and top with tomato sauce, or San Marzano tomatoes that have been drained and dried on paper towels. If using just tomatoes, sprinkle with a little salt. Cook pizza for 3-5 minutes, just long enough for the tomatoes to dry out a little. Take pizza out of the oven and add remaining toppings, starting with cheese. Cook for another 10 minutes until cheese is bubbly and starting to brown, rotating half way through.

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Father’s Focaccia

 

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