Thursday, December 16, 2010

Homemade Pizza

I just ate a lot of pizza.

But at least it was homemade, so that make it okay right?

It all started with a cucumber. Yes, believe it or not, this story can be traced back to a cucumber. Much of my cooking is a vicious cycle of trying to use up ingredients. I end up with leftovers of one perishable ingredient, usually a vegetable. So then I buy other ingredients from the grocery store in order to go with said leftover ingredient, only to end up with leftovers of the newly purchased ingredients. And so the cycle continues.

Anyway, so I had a leftover cucumber that never quite made it to a salad. And since I was tired of lettuce, I bought a tomato and block of feta cheese, and made a nice Greek-style salad.

But then I had half a block of feta cheese left.

So then I had this idea of making Greek pizza. When I lived in Philadelphia, there was a pizzeria, that had two versions of “Greek” pizza, known as “Greek I” and “Greek II.” My preference was Greek II, but apparently my memory led me astray, and I ended up making something more akin to “Greek I” (Basically the same ingredients – feta cheese, kalamata olives, mozzarella, only the Greek I has fresh tomatoes, no sauce, while the Greek II, has tomato sauce). What you see pictured above is how it looked before it went into the oven.

But instead of using store-bought pizza dough, I wanted to experiment with making my own dough. I had read in a number of food blogs on how to make homemade pizza dough, all of them proclaiming it to be just so easy, I wanted to give it a try. And I had never worked with yeast before, so I thought making pizza dough would be a good start.

It all seemed like a good idea in theory. Never mind that I don’t own a stand mixer, a pizza peel, or a pizza stone.

So last night, I tried my first hand of making pizza dough using this method. I don’t know where exactly I went wrong, but the yeast simply did not rise. Or maybe I was just too impatient. But it just didn’t work for me.

But I would not be discouraged. I was determined to use up that block of feta!

So today, I tried this method, only I divided the recipe in half and had to mix and knead the dough by hand.

Even though I used the more, shall I say, old-fashioned way, I could tell this method was working much better. The dough was stretchy and bounced in my hands as I kneaded it. And when I set it in a slightly warmed oven to rise, it actually rose and doubled in size!

This is what it looked like after three hours.

I ended up making two smaller pizzas, since I wanted to them to be more personal sized. In the name of variety, I made one Greek, and one plain pizza. I also raised the temperature of my oven to 475 degrees, in the hope this would give me a nice golden brown crust.

So I put the Greek pizza in the oven first. (My oven is small, I can only fit one cookie sheet at a time). After ten minutes, I checked on it, but the crust wasn’t quite golden brown as I had hoped, so I let it stay in for another three minutes.

Looks pretty right? But those extra three minutes in the oven were actually, its downfall. The crust was hard and cracker-like. But the toppings were tasty, so I ate it all. (Except for the crust – it was much too hard!)

So then I put the plain pizza in, and baked it for exactly ten minutes.

Perhaps it was the ten minutes, perhaps it was because it was the second pizza so the dough had more time to rest, but this pizza was perfect. Chewy and soft on the inside, with just enough crunch. I was quite pleased with this pizza. So I ate all of it.

At least there are no leftovers use up!


mollyjade said...

This is like "If you Give a Mouse a Cookie".

If you give Cheryl a cucumber, she'll want some cheese. If you give her some cheese, she'll beg you for pizza. If you give her pizza, she'll be so stuffed she begs you to buy a head of lettuce. If you buy her a head of lettuce, she'll need a cucumber.

We always make twice as much dough as we need and then freeze half of it for another time.

Cheryl said...

I thought about making the amount the recipe called for, but after my first attempt was a failure, I was worried about wasting a lot of flour and yeast.