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THE FRONT BURNER

FLS reporter Katie Thisdell serves up news on local food finds, tales from home cooks and inspiration to help you have fun in your own kitchen.

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How I’m doing pizza these days

I was in the grocery store the other day when I ran into a friend. She mentioned that she still uses the pizza dough recipe I wrote about three or four years ago (so long ago that I can’t seem to find the column to link to) as a regular weeknight meal for her family.

We talked about what a great go-to meal pizza is, and how easy it is to make dough yourself at home.

Like everything else with home cooking, my pizza-making is constantly evolving, and in the year or so since I wrote this post, my pizza routine has changed again, if only slightly. So I thought I’d post an update, since there will be pizza in a post I’m working on for next week about how to eat great homemade food without cooking at dinnertime.

So here it is, my latest version of homemade pizza dough. As I’ve mentioned before, I found the original version of this recipe on the Dinner: A Love Story blog, and they found it in the cookbook of baker Jim Lahey. Here are my latest tweaks:

Weeknight pizza dough (adapted from Jim Lahey)

Serves four

1 1/3 cup hot tap water

2 1/2 teaspoons active dry or rapid rise yeast (I have used both, with results that didn’t differ too much)

3/4 teaspoon sugar

2 3/4 cups all purpose flour

3/4 whole wheat flour

1/4 cup wheat germ or flaxseed meal

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 tablespoon dried herbs of your choice (I like an herbes de Provence mix with some fennel seeds in it. The herbs are optional, though.)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Method:

In a small mixing bowl (preferably one with a spout), combine the yeast and the sugar. Pour the hot tap water over this mixture and whisk briefly. If your yeast is good, a foam head will develop on this mixture as you prepare the rest of your ingredients.

In a really large mixing bowl, combine flours, wheat germ, salt and herbs (if using). Pour in olive oil, then give your yeast slurry one last whisk and pour it over the flours. Give this mixture a few good turns with a wooden spoon or plastic spatula, then get your (clean) hands in there and get everything good and incorporated, kneading the dough lightly for about 30 seconds once everything is mixed.

Cover the bowl with a clean dish towel and leave at room temperature for at least two hours, but it will be fine if you leave it for much longer.

At least 30 minutes before you want to make the pizza, preheat your oven to 500 degrees. At the same time, turn out the dough onto a floured surface and cut it in half. Shape each half into a ball and let sit under a dish towel on the floured surface until the oven has pre-heated and you’ve assembled your toppings. Cover a standard baking sheet with aluminum foil and brush with olive oil or spray with cooking spray.

When the oven is ready, gently shape one of the dough balls with your hands or a rolling pin until it fits in the prepared baking sheet. If you are only making one pizza, you can place the leftover dough in an oiled zip-top bag and freeze it, or refrigerate it if you plan to use it within the next three days.

Top your pizza as desired and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool for 3 to 5 minutes, then dinner’s ready.

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Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/frontburner/2012/09/26/2149/