Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Quest 2.0: Pizza Party!

Welcome back, Apprentices! Holy crap! You made it to level 2! You did it, guys! All that baking, boiling, sautéing, slicing, dicing and chopping got you here! And what better way to celebrate than with a pizza party? That's right, kids, you're going to learn to make pizza from scratch today! But be warned; like bread, once you learn to make your own pizza, you realize how completely sub-standard frozen or even delivery pizza really is. You will become a pizza snob, casually thumbing your nose at greasy, tasteless pizza with cardboard crusts and freezer-burned vegetables. In this post, I'm going to demonstrate the versatility of pizza dough. We'll be making my favorite roasted garlic white pizza, cheesy pizza sticks and garlic knots!

<--- Admit it! You want this in your face!

You want this in your face, too! ---->

TIP: Make the sauce the day before you plan to make the pizza. Spreading out the work will make you less tired and the enjoyment of shoving your face full of pizza will be heightened.

*This recipe makes two batches of sauce. Cut recipe in half for one pizza.

10-15 Cloves Roasted Garlic
4 Tablespoons Butter
2 Cups Milk (whole or 2%)
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
4 Tablespoons Flour
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

Roast your garlic! Remember that post all about roasting garlic? DO THAT! Too lazy to refer back to that old quest? Fine! I'll go over it again, but only because you asked nicely. But to keep this post from getting too long, you're getting the condensed version...and you're going to LIKE IT!


1. Peel outer skin and chop off the top 1/4 of the head of your garlic.
2. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper.
3. Wrap loosely in tin foil, forming a tent.
4. Bake on oven-safe baking sheet for 45 minutes to an hour.
*Garlic is done when the cloves are golden and soft.
5. Peel and set aside.

                                     Start your sauce! 

In a sauce pan, gradually warm the 2 cups of milk over LOW heat. Use a whisk and stir frequently to keep the milk from scorching.

In a separate sauce pan, melt the butter. Add two tablespoons of flour to the melted butter. Whisk the mixture well and add one tablespoon of flour. Whisk the mixture again and add the last tablespoon of flour.

Gradually add warm milk to the flour/butter mixture. Add the milk at a rate of about a 1/4 cup at a time. Whisk the mixture well as you add the milk. At this point, the mixture will start to seize up and lump together. Don't panic! That's supposed to happen. As long as you continuously whisk the mixture,  the sauce will smooth out as you add the rest of the milk. But again, don't add the milk all at once. Keep it gradual and keep whisking.

*Pictured above - scary, seized up milk/flour/butter mixture and gorgeous, smooth sauce after much patience and whisking. I couldn't take pictures of all the in-between stages because it's actually a very fast process. 

Add salt, cayenne and one tablespoon of olive oil. Whisk together well (I know, you're sick of the word "whisk"'s almost over...) and let the sauce simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally.

Pour the sauce into a food processor or blender (or use a submersion blender) and add roasted garlic cloves. Blend it together well and set aside. If you prepared the sauce a day or two before you need it, cover it well (I recommend an air-tight plastic container) and refrigerate.

*This recipe makes two batches of pizza dough; enough for two 15" pizzas or one 15" pizza, plus pizza sticks & garlic knots. Cut recipe in half for one pizza.

2 Cups Warm Water
2 Packets Active Dry Yeast
4 3/4 - 5 Cups Bread Flour
2 tsp Salt
1 1/2 Tablespoons Sugar
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
Yellow Cornmeal

Warm water to about 100ºF. Remember not to get the water too hot or you will kill the yeast and your dough won't rise. Pour warm water in a mixing bowl (if using a stand mixer, use the mixer's bowl; if not, use a large mixing bowl) and stir in sugar and olive oil. Sprinkle the yeast evenly on the surface of the water and let the yeast foam (activate). It takes about 5-10 minutes.

In a separate bowl, measure out the flour and mix in the salt. Using an electric mixer with a dough hook, gradually add the flour/salt to the water/yeast mixture to form a smooth, elastic dough. *If you don't have a mixer, use a heavy duty spatula or wooden spoon. As the dough begins to thicken use your CLEAN hands to work the dough until smooth.*

Remove from the mixing stand. Add the parmesan cheese and work the dough with your hands until the cheese is evenly distributed throughout the dough. Drizzle a large bowl with olive oil and transfer the ball of dough to that bowl. Turn the dough over in the bowl, coating it with a thin layer of olive oil.

Cover with plastic and let rise until doubled in size. About 1 hour. Using your hands, deflate the dough and divide the dough in half.

For the sticks & garlic knots, sprinkle a large cookie sheet evenly with cornmeal. The cornmeal prevents your pizza crust from sticking to the cookie sheet and helps in creating a firmer, crispier crust.   

For pizza sticks and garlic knots, divide one ball of dough in half again (you should now have three balls of dough; one larger and two smaller balls of equal size). Using your hands, press one of the smaller balls of dough into a rectangle. Try to make the thickness of the dough as even as possible. Press it down until it is about 1/4" thick. Divide the other smaller ball into 6-8 even SMALLER balls. Roll the smaller balls into ropes (like with Play-Doh when you were a kid) and then simply form the rope into a knot.

*TIP Let the pizza dough rest for a few minutes after you push it into the rectangle shape. You may find the elastic nature of the dough has pulled the shape inwards, making it smaller. By letting the dough rest and then RE-working it into the size you want, you will minimize shrinkage before and during the baking process. 

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and using a pastry brush, coat the garlic knots with butter and sprinkle with garlic powder and a little salt. Spread the rectangle of dough with the garlic white pizza sauce, making sure you take the sauce to the edge of the crust and sprinkle with grated mozzarella cheese. It is important that you push the sauce towards the outer edge of the dough. When the pizza bakes, the heat will draw everything towards the center of the pie. You want to minimize that inwards pull and make sure the cheese and sauce are evenly distributed.

*Temperature is for sticks, knots and pizza

Bake on the middle rack for 12-15 minutes. Brush the garlic knots once more with melted butter and slice the rectangle into sticks.

The sticks and knots make a fantastic appetizer or a fun treat for the kids. Serve them up with some red pizza sauce to dip (I like Ragu when I'm feeling lazy and I add a little cayenne for some extra'll learn homemade red sauce in a later lesson).

For the pizza, pre-heat a pizza stone (or you can use a room temperature cookie sheet in a pinch). Sprinkle the hot pizza stone (or cookie sheet) with cornmeal and press the dough into a 15" disk.

*TIP I highly recommend getting your hands on a pastry mat. With a pastry mat, you roll the dough out on this non-slip surface and then transfer easily to the pizza stone. A pastry mat will make your life so much easier!

I spent a little time working in a pizza parlor as a kid and I learned some super-handy tips and tricks to making good pizza. After you spread out your sauce, sprinkle with a small amount of cheese. Having that little bit of cheese will give your toppings something to bond to on the bottom, keeping your toppings from sliding off your pizza and onto your plate when eating. Now, add your favorite toppings! I chose caramelized onions, roma tomatoes, roasted peppers (red & green bell peppers & jalapeños) and baby portabello mushrooms.

Bake 12-15 minutes or until the crust is golden and cheese is melted! Let the pizza sit for about five minutes before you cut into it.

You did it!! Enjoy shoving your face full of delicious pizza! In the future, we'll be doing more themed meals for True Blood and Doctor Who's 50th Anniversary Special. And we'll be having more tabletop themes as we play Apples to Apples and Four Taverns!

Don't forget to like us on Facebook and follow on Twitter for all the latest 8-Bit Cook news!


+10 Baking

No comments:

Post a Comment