Love, One Slice at a Time

I‘m a cheesy lover!

The Story

Being a kid of the ’70s means there are certain benchmark moments that conjure up warm feelings of nostalgia.  For me, there will always be three things that automatically take me back: the summer of Tab cola (diet swill in a can), Sun-In (the orange liquid girls sprayed in their hair to turn it blond like Farrah Fawcett), and Friday night Chef Boy-Ar-Dee pizza.  Remember the baby pepperonis??

Many were the Friday night that I and one or both of my two best friends from childhood would whip up a Chef Boy-Ar-Dee pizza while sipping on a Tab cola.  Let’s face it, neither was very good but the love of pizza has long been etched into my heart and thighs.  Once we were able to drive, we quickly made a bee-line to our town’s lone Pizza Hut which is still open in the same spot and building today.  One bite of a pan Super Supreme Pizza Hut pizza and I was hooked for life. 

This brings me to today’s blog and recipe.  Several months ago, I ran across a recipe for homemade pizza dough.  Having become a fanatic of all things relating to The Great British Baking Show, I have become more and more interested in learning to make my own bread.  While I’m nowhere near Paul Hollywood’s skill level, I will happily serve this pizza crust to him and even dare him to tell me it’s not great.  It’s so great in fact, that we’ve turned Friday nights into Pizza Night for the past three months.  The crust gets crispy around the edges and on the bottom but the inside is soft. Fantastic! Also, this dough is wonderfully easy and thus far, fail-proof.  If you’ve been on the fence about making your own dough, this is the recipe to try.  I’ve shared it with one of my best girlfriends and it has proven (no pun intended) itself with her as well.  I hope you will give it a try.

Don’t let those blue eyes fool ya, the man is rough with the puff!

The Flip:

The flip is simply making your own dough when it’s easier to purchase ready-made these days.  Granted things have come a long way since Chef Boyardee but if you can make it easier at home, why wouldn’t you? The mixer, attached with a bread hook does all the work for you and the hardest thing is waiting the 2-3 hours of proving time before baking and digging in.

This dough is a cross between a pan pizza dough and focaccia bread.  Fabulous for pizza crust obviously but also works well for cheesy bread or herb bread.  I’ve made it in all incarnations and there is never a complaint or much left over.  Great with soup on a cold wintery night or as herbed bread for spaghetti and other pasta dishes.

It makes a great cheese pizza but definitely use your favorite sauce and toppings.  The best cheese, in our experience, is Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack.  They melt great but have a kicked up flavor over mozzarella but hey, cheese is cheese and there isn’t one that we do not like so cheese it up according to your preference.

The Recipe:

Ingredients:

2-3 T EVOO

2 ¼ cups plain flour

1 ½ t instant or rapid-rise yeast (1 packet)

1 ½ t. sugar

1 cup water, room temperature

¾ t. salt

Directions:

  1. Spray a 13 x 9-inch nonstick baking pan with cooking spray, then brush the sides and bottom of pan with EVOO.  Be sure to coat the sides evenly – this will ensure a crispier crust on the bottom.
  2. Using stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix flour, yeast, and sugar on low speed until combined – about 10 seconds.
  3. With mixer running, slowly add water and mix until dough forms and no dry flour remains about 2 minutes.  Scrape down the bowl as needed.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand for 10 minutes.
  5. Add salt (and any herbs such as rosemary, basil, etc.) to dough on medium speed until dough forms a satiny, sticky ball that clears sides of the bowl.  Do this for at LEAST six minutes but up to eight.  Turn dough onto a lightly floured counter or board and knead until smooth, about 1 minute.  (Note: dough will be sticky and very soft. Lightly flour the top before kneading – this makes it easier to knead and it has a lovely feel to your hands.)
  6. Transfer dough to prepared pan and cover with plastic wrap to rest for 15 minutes.
  7. After 15 minutes, oil your hands and pat out the dough into the corners of your pan.  If it does not stretch completely to the edges, no worries, it will fill in as it rises.  Once patted out as far to the corners as you can get, cover with plastic wrap for the last time and allow to prove for 2-3 hours.  It will double or triple in volume as it sits.
  8. Once the dough has risen the 2-3 hours, preheat oven to 500 degrees.
  9. FOR PIZZA: Spread dough with your favorite sauce then add toppings.  Make sure when adding cheese that it is sprinkled around the edges of the dough.  This ensures a lovely crisp edge.
  10. FOR CHEESY BREAD OR HERB BREAD: brush olive oil over the top of the dough then add your favorite cheeses or sprinkle with your favorite herbs/seasonings.
  11. Bake at 500 degrees, until cheese is bubbly and browned about 15 minutes.  Let pizza/bread cool for 5 minutes in the pan then using a spatula, ease out of the pan onto a waiting board or tray.  Cut into pieces and devour!

Before slicing…trust me, no leftovers here!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *