OK, so it's been awhile since I've been outside. I didn't cook anything special on Wednesday, but that just caused me to start to idly consider what I would make if I could actually get to the store. I also spent too much time browsing cooking Web sites, always a dangerous pastime. I finally realized that although I had depleted a great deal of my stock of foodstuffs, I did have everything I needed to make pizza.
I made pizza several times while I lived in New Jersey but never made my own dough. Most pizzerias and Italian bakeries will sell you a pizza dough from their stacks of round, blonde domes that they make every day. Today, I made my own dough. The recipe is the essence of bread baking: flour, warm water, yeast, a little salt. After breakfast, I mixed the dough (thank goodness for Kitchen Aid mixers) and let it go through the two rounds of rising. I may have rushed it just a tad, but I was able to have a late lunch.
This photo doesn't do justice to the dough stretching process---I only have two hands so I couldn't stretch and take a picture at the same time. The basic technique, which I learned by watching the pros at work, is to continually work around the edge of the dough. Lightly pinch the edge of the dough and stretch it just a little bit, then move your hands to the next position and repeat. Holding it above the table seems dangerous at first but gravity helps stretch the dough---just make sure you keep it moving to avoid tearing. The dough should be very thin, almost worrisomely so. Just remember that it will rise while in the oven.
As you can see, my technique isn't perfect yet, but I did get it pretty thin. I covered the pizzas with my homemade tomato sauce and some high-quality shredded Parmesan. Another tip I learned from ordering too many pizzas was that cornmeal makes helps to move the pizza on the pan---the grains of cornmeal act as little tiny ball bearings. I cooked the pizza at 500 degrees, as hot as my oven would go. It took no more than five minutes to cook them through.
Here is the result. The edge was pale because my oven wasn't the 800 degrees that many pizza restaurants use. But overall this was my best effort at homemade pizza so far. The crust was properly thin. The hot oven gave it the right crusty on the bottom, chewy on the inside texture that is the mark of real pizza. I probably used a little too much sauce, but the only downside was a little mess as it dribbled. A hot, fresh pizza is a treat on any day but it was especially welcome today.
As the pizzas cooked, I noticed that the ice was finally melting. Not a moment too soon...