Archives for the day Sunday, March 1st, 2009


A couple of days ago,we had Pizza night. Pizza night is not the day that one of us pick up the phone and ask delivery of Pizza.

For us, Pizza night is the work-out day for myself,and it will be very happy tummy day for my husband,and it will be a  jackpot night for Palette the Corgi.

I make pizza from scratch and usually takes about 3 hours or so from start,but it is rewarding.

Nothing better than home-made pizza/bread.

For me, pizza dough is like an art canvas, where you can be creative in many ways. Especially with dough,you can explore flavor of the dough, you can explore the choice of topping, and you can explore the choice of pizza sauce.

Therefore,it is really fun stuff for me to think about what to make out of simple pizza dough.

 These couple of years, I have been in charge of making Pizza for Christmas gathering time.

My in-law family seem to enjoy them a lot,and I have already got one request from my mother in- law to make BBQ chicken pizza next Christmas. So,I am guessing that I will be Pizza maker for Christmas following years to come.

 As you already know,I love cooking.

Funny thing is,I hated pizza,I hated cheese when I was in Japan.But now.. I love pizza,I love cheese and I love making creative pizza myself. I think,partly because US has so many choice of cheese to taste,and I think my taste buds might have changed over the years living in the states.

 So,today, I thought that I would introduce some of my little secrets (I know,it is not going to be secret anymore though) to make good pizza with budget.

Tips on how to make a good pizza with budget…

 1. Use unbleached all purpose flour and unbleached bread flour with ratio of 50%- 50% in the recipe

For me, the choice of flour is important. The ratio would determine the texture of the dough. I personally prefer to combine the unbleached all purpose flour and bread flour with ratio of 50-50.It makes chewy but not too chewy tasty flavorful dough.

I found out that I like this combo flour for better aromas and better flavor. If you use just one kind of flour, it does not taste as good as combo flour one.So, my pizza dough is crusty on bottom,and inside is softer & chewy. Kind of like the texture of pretzels from  Aunties’.

2. Use table sugar over honey in the dough.

It just taste different,and I like one with sugar better.

3. If you use yeast in a jar like I do,you need to make sure the Jar is out from fridge before 30 minutes to make the yeast come to room temperature.Cold yeast does not do good job in proofing.

I like using yast in a jar, because I don’t have to buy it every time I feel like making bread.

4.  For water, measure the water, and pour into pyrux bowl,then microwave it for 30 seconds per cup of water.

I found out that that amount of time in microwave makes water to lukewarm temperature you need (110F-115F)

 All you need to make pizza dough is ingredients from above (yeast,water,flour,sugar) plus table salt.
Depending on recipe you follow, it may needs more, but base is just these.

 5. To make the nice dough, measure out the active dry yeast into lukewarm water (110-115F),add sugar and stir well,then, let it stand 5-10minutes until it gets frothy,bubbly on top.

 6. start mixing in the flour and mix until it forms nice ball. Then, dump onto sillpat and knead about 8 minutes.

The dough surface should become smooth,not too sticky,and should be elastic. There is a test you can do if your kneading is enough. it is called ” windowpane test”.

What is windowpane test?

What you do is, cut off small piece of dough,and gently stretch out/pulling to see if it will hold a paper-thin membrane. If it tore apart,you would knead a bit more and do the test again.

Some people use mixer to knead but,I like kneading with my hands.It is comforting and,good arm exercise,and fun.

7. When the dough is done, put the dough ball into greased with Extra Virgin Olive oil Pyrex bowl,cover it with either wet clothe or seal the top with saran,put it into pre-heated,turned off 200F oven.

You pre-heat the oven to 200F but once it gets to the temperature,you want to turn it off and use the heat to proof the dough. Then, wait about 90minutes or so until dough gets proofed up.

8. Once it gets proofed up, punch it down (let the gas out,and make the temperature of outer and inner dough equal,and dump onto floured sillpat and make shape with rolling pin (I like French wooden rolling pin),then prepare the cooking sheet (Using pizza stone maybe better but I do not have pizza peel so I use half-sheet pan.Thus,our pizza is rectangle. ) by placing non stick Foil and sprinkle Yellow corn meal around

9. place the dough,make a little wedge around using your side of your hands (This makes like Chicago’s deep dish  pizza-like look).

10. Brush with  Extra virgin olive oil (Cold press extra virgin olive oil is better for flavor),and put topping/sauce and let them rest about 5 minutes or so covering loosely with saran on top.

11. Then,bake with 425F-450F oven for 15-20 minutes long or until bottom gets crispy and brown on edge.

Yellow cornmeal on bottom is my little secret for crispy bottom pizza. It gives really nice texture for the dough.

 Like I said above,pizza can be very creative art canvas.

I have made spinach & Feta cheese pizza dough once,and it was really good. I once put Parmesan cheese into dough,to make cheesy flavored dough.This goes well with Alfred sauce based pizza.

With left over pizza dough,you can make garlic knots. Just simply roll out the dough,slice to 1 inch strip and make knots and brush with Extra virgin olive oil,sprinkle little bit of Kosher salt,little bit of dry Oregano,little bit of garlic powder are all you need.

It can freeze in freezer if you got more than enough knots too. and if you prefer,you can make just simple rolls.Just roll to round ball,rest it for 5-10 minutes,and brush it with extra virgin olive oil,and bake with 450F for 20-25 minutes until top gets reddish brown color and when you tap the bread and when you heard hollowing sound,it tells you it is done.

When you bake a little longer,it gives nice crunchy crust on outside,softer chewy inside. You can dip it into pizza sauce or simply dip into mixture of Extra virgin olive oil,grated Parmesan cheese,and dry pest seasoning and it is optional but you can chop karamata olive into small bits and mix well and you have nice dipping for bread.

 With sauce, I like sweeter sauce than salty or spicy sauce.Some pizza store serves really salty sauced pizza,but I prefer sweeter one.

My sauce is simple.Just pour in 28 ounce of crushed tomato sauce  and add a little bit of sugar to it.

Adding sugar helps the sauce balance out the acidity and sweetness.

Then,add little bit of oregano, and stir and done.

If you like spicy,you can add crushed red pepper. Key here is,make the sauce beforehand and use the cool down sauce to put on pizza dough.

 I have done pizza with garlic Alfred sauce with hint of hot sauce to give the sauce a kick,but it came out real good as well.

 Another sauce I have tried is, Basil pesto. with Basil pesto as sauce,I like the combination of Basil pesto+boiled and shredded chicken + Mozzarella cheese.This combo is really good.

 With topping,you can put anything you like,but my personal favorite topping other than cheese is probably red pizza sauce+sliced red onion+sliced green pepper+ thin strip of Deli ham+ chopped pepperoncini+mozzarella cheese. Chopped pepperoncini gives slight kick to the pizza and it is one of my favorite topping.

 But best topping that my husband likes is just plain cheese. No sauce. My secret to make good cheese stick is to use good fresh cheese.

I like using fresh mozzarella 30% (usually you can find them around refrigerated cheese area and it is as big as your fist.Not small mozzarella cheese you find in deli section),and low moisture shredded mozzarella cheese 70%.

The fresh mozzarella gives nice creamy cheesy almost garlicky taste to pizza and it makes really nice cheese stick. You cannot use fresh mozzarella cheese 100%  because it hold lots of moisture and it makes puddle of water pool on top of pizza,so it is best to mix with low moisture shredded cheese with low ratio for fresh mozzarella cheese.

 Another pizza my husband likes is margherita pizza.

Trick for this is that, don’t put the basil as topping to go into oven to bake. Bake the pizza without Basil and when it comes out and still hot, roll up the Basil leaves and thinly chop with scissors over pizza and it still gives you fresh basil aroma and taste.Also, since it did not go into oven,the bright green color stays,not go dark green.

 So,these are all my secret to make nice pizza dough/sauce.

We do  not make Pizza often but we have Pizza night now and then. When we do, we have home-made pizza. It fills up the house with bread bakery smell and it drives Palette crazy.

So,why not try making homemade pizza from scratch and let your kids play around pizza topping for fun experience with you?

You can save quite bit of money by making from scratch although it takes long to make it. You can find many pizza dough recipe on line.

I will be sharing some of my pizza recipes in the future here.



Mar 01, 2009 | Comments are off | Miscellaneous (Cooking)