27 September 2011

broiler pizza

Left/upper: balsamic & olive oil with goat cheese, garlic, onion, and pear. Right/bottom: basil pesto with feta, parm, onion, and artichoke hearts.
Guess what I did? I made dinner with our broiler! So I guess this means... it's baking season! Yaaay!!! Oh how I have missed using our oven and not making everyone miserable for it.

We're a pizza loving household. I don't really judge, as long as it isn't the microwavable kind that comes with the shiny cardboard disk that costs less than a dollar. Gross. But there is a certain satisfaction that comes from making your own pizza from start to finish. We always aspire to learn how to make our pizza on the grill, but we have yet to muster up the courage to give it a go. What if the toppings are lukewarm? What if I burn the crust? That would be tragedy for sure.

So here's our preferred method. It's pretty genius. Honestly, this is the main reason we began to really love our giant cast iron skillet. I knew I'd love it, but I hadn't figured out how one really takes advantage of a cast iron skillet. And now I know... it's good for everything! From cookies to cornbread to risotto. If you are also a little nervous about how to really use your cast iron skillet, I recommend this tutorial on how to care for it. It is all about the seasoning, folks. Don't be so thorough with the scrubbing, mmkay?

As far as the crust goes, we follow the directions for whole wheat pizza dough out of Baking Illustrated (but I am totally considering a pre-order for this lovely looking new pizza cookbook -- I know I know, you can decorate a pizza yourself, but hey, I'm not always so innovative! And fancy crusts! And they're from Minnesota! How can I resist such a thing?). The book says this will make you three medium pizzas, but we get four full skillet sized pies out of it. And the more pizzas you make at once, the more fun it is to decorate them! I like to make wacky pizzas and my husband is more of a red sauce traditionalist (also delicious, of course!). This way we both get what we like and are happy about leftovers the next day. Plus then I can be all vegetarian with my selections and he can enjoy a carnivorous meal. We are also a household that encourages leftovers. I swear I don't even remember how to make a PB&J anymore, I'm that addicted to making sure we've got leftovers for the next day. Sometimes that's what motivates me to get dinner made, not gonna lie to you.

So! Here's the crust recipe:

1/2 c. warm water (110 F)
2 1/4 t. instant yeast
1 1/4 c. water (room temp)
2 T. olive oil
11 oz. all purpose flour, unbleached (weigh it if you can for best accuracy!)
11 oz. whole wheat flour (weigh it if you can for best accuracy!)
1 1/2 t. salt

1. Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand until the yeast dissolves and swells, about 5 minutes. Add to the room-temp water and oil and stir to combine.
2. Process the flour and salt in a large food processor bowl, pulsing to combine. Continue pulsing (long pulses!) while pouring the liquid ingredients (holding back a few tablespoons) through the feed tube. If the dough does not readily form into a ball, add the remaining liquid and continue to pulse until a ball forms. Process until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 30 seconds longer.
3. The dough will be a bit tacky, so use a rubber spatula to turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead by hand a few strokes to form a smooth, round ball. Put the dough into a deep oiled bowl and cover. Let rise until doubled in size, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
4. Punch down the dough. Cut into four pieces. Flour a work surface and roll the dough out as thinly as possible.
(Follow instructions from the Crepes of Wrath, embedded above, to proceed with making some awesome broiler pizza! Go nuts with your toppings, and don't forget to report back with some smashing combinations!)

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