Pizza!!

Feb 23, 2018 | Recipes

“Pizza is like sex, even when it’s bad it’s still pretty good”  Mel Brooks

Pizza is one of those special universally loved dishes. The combination of the crust, with the sauce, and the cheese makes for perfect eating. Even though every city, or neighbourhood seems to have their own specific version, the classics still stand out. For my money, a simple margherita is the number one choice. It is perfection. No matter what type to pizza you plan to make this is the post for you.

The crust

There are as many different kinds of pizza crust as there are pizza. Some crusts are soft and chewy. Some are crispy. Some pizza crusts are even flavoured with herbs and garlic. It doesn’t matter what type of crust your prefer, they all begin the exact same way.  Pizza crust is bread, and like any bread it starts with three very basic ingredients. Flour, water, and yeast. When starting with these three ingredients you can make any type of bread in the world. What you make out of those three ingredients comes down to what you add next.

Sugar

–  Sugar has two main roles in making pizza dough. The first purpose of sugar is to feed the yeast. Yeasts metabolize sugar turning it into alcohol and carbon dioxide gas. This process is what makes dough rise. The second purpose of the sugar is textural. If you want a chewy crust add more sugar to your dough. If you want a crisp crust, add less sugar. If you want a really crispy dough don’t add any sugar at all. There is more than enough natural sugar in flour to activate the yeast it will just be a slower process.

Salt

– Salt, like sugar, also plays a double role in making pizza dough. The first role of salt in dough making is to control the yeast. Unlike sugar, yeast does not like salt. The salt is there to prevent the yeast from over producing carbon dioxide gas, which if left unchecked would lead to a dough with no structure. The second purpose of salt in dough is flavour. Dough is pretty bland by itself so salt is added to make it a little more flavourful.

Oil/Fat

– You may notice that some pizza dough recipes have olive oil or another kind of fat in them. The purpose of the fat is purely texture and flavour. The fat will help give you that chewy crust in addition to the extra sugar. It is not needed though.


Pizza Dough Recipe

  • 2 c flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp yeast
  • 1 c lukewarm water

Dissolve the sugar in the water. Stir the yeast into the water and let sit for 10 minutes. Add the yeast/water mixture to the flour and mix until fully incorporated. Mix in the salt. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes. Knead the dough for 10 minutes. Form dough into two balls and place on a lightly floured surface, dust with a bit more flour and cover with a tea towel. Let rise for 45 minutes. Punch down, roll into pizza shape, top with your favourite ingredients, and bake on a pizza stone preheated to 475°f  until dough is golden brown and toppings are cooked. *Make sure the dough is on a pizza peel (paddle) before topping. This makes it much easier to slide onto the pizza stone.

Yeast in waterActivated yeast

wpid-dsc_1111.jpgPizza dough after it has risenPizza dough after it has been rolled

The Sauce

Some may argue that the sauce is the most important part of a pizza. No matter which side of this argument you’re on you can’t argue that it is important.

Pizza sauce like any other aspect of a pizza comes in many varieties. There is beauty in simplicity and I think that this relates to the sauce. Like most other things however, this all comes down to personal preference.

In my opinion the sauce should be dependent upon the toppings. If I am going to make a pizza with salami, green peppers, and mushrooms, I will add a few fennel seeds to my sauce to mirror the flavour of the salami. If I am going to make a simple margherita, I want a simple sauce of just tomato, basil, and a little sugar, which will mirror the overall flavour of the pizza. The way I look at it is the same as if I were building a dish in a restaurant. When you go to a nice restaurant you choose a composed dish. You don’t choose your vegetables, or sauce, it is all part of the dish on the menu. This is done because the Chef has taken a lot of time to think about how those flavours will go together, and wants the dish to be the best that it can be. The flavours of the dish will contrast each other, but there will usually be slight repetition in order to pull the whole dish together. That is how I think when building my pizza. What flavours will go together, and how can I get the most out of those flavours?

The only things that are really important to know when making your sauce is to add sugar and salt. Tomatoes are acidic, the sugar will help take away some of this acid. The salt combined with the sugar will allow the tomato flavour to shine through.

In my sauce I put:


Pizza Sauce RecipeAll the ingredients for pizza sauce in a measuring cup

  • 1 whole tomato quarted
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • a dash of pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • a few basil leaves
  • 1 clove of garlic

That’s it. All I did with it was blitz it with an immersion blender.


The toppings

When choosing your toppings you are faced with literally infinite possibilities. This again, comes down to personal preference. There are of course the classic combinations. Basil and fresh mozzarella create the magical combination know as the margherita, which is my personal favorite. White sauce, bacon, and clams make a really delicious pizza as well. You can add, take away, or change ingredients in anyway you would like to create your perfect pizza. Try roasting vegetables like peppers and onions instead of just putting them on raw. Use different types of cheeses such as provolone, ricotta, cheddar, goat cheese, feta anything you want. Same with meats. Change it up and try new things.

The point is that pizza is a blank canvas. You can start with tomato sauce, white sauce, or just garlic and oil. From there you can begin to make something truly unique and creative. Making pizza should be fun because eating it is. It is something you can do with your family, and friends that is easy and everyone will enjoy.


If you are the type of person that likes to make pizza at home, you should have a pizza stone. Really, you should. They are inexpensive, easy to take care of, and they make a world of difference. Seriously, get a pizza stone.

 

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