Every now and then, Mr. Hawthorne and I get a hankering for pizza. I actually started on the dough yesterday after we got home from the cook-off. Mr. Hawthorne said he wanted pizza and I asked him, "What kind?" He responded with, "I dunno. Something different" And I asked him if he wanted a chili pizza. He said he doesn't want to see any chili for a long, long time. I think he was chilied out. So, I started on the dough, which I'll go through step by step for you pizza virgins out there, along with suggestions for different types of doughs. And we didn't eat the pizza last night. While the dough was rising, Mr. Hawthorne got impatient and fixed himself a salad. Now, on to pizza dough.
Set aside to let the yeast "proof." That means get all puffy and means the yeast is working. Then add in an egg and mix.
Then I turned the messy gloppy dough onto a lightly floured surface and kneaded, adding in a tablespoon or so of flour at a time, as needed, and as kneaded. You can tell. If the dough gets too sticky, sprinkle on some flour. You want the dough to be soft, smooth, pliable, and elastic. And the more you knead it, the more it becomes those things.
Here's the part where you can make a twist on your basic pizza dough. I had sliced green onions and parsley left over from the cook off so I decided to add that to my dough. You could, of course, use other combinations: sage and ham or sausage bits, garlic and onion, jalapeno and cilantro, basil and sun dried tomatoes, just for starters. Use your imagination and don't be afraid to experiment.
Then some more flour to make it just right. Please don't be intimidated by making dough. It's quite simple and the dough tells you what it needs.
I kneaded away, alternately adding in parsley and green onions and olive oil and flour. Add flour and oil in as needed, depending on climate, humidity, your astrological sign, phase of the moon, and your own personal issues.
Place the dough into a well-oiled bowl, turning to oil the dough all over, and I like to sprinkle some more salt and pepper on top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise. Here's my tip for dough-rising: Wet a kitchen towel, nuke it for about 90 seconds so it's nice and hot, cover the dough bowl with the towel (bottom, sides, and top), and place back in the microwave to rise. The heat and the steam help.
I punched the dough down, kneaded it some more, then wrapped in plastic, and stuck it in the fridge for the next day.
Sunday morning. I guess I didn't wrap as securely as I should have. The dough continued rising even in the fridge. I just kneaded it again and it was fine.
We wanted a small, thin-crust pizza, so I divided the dough in half. Start with a ball of dough in the center of your oiled pan and press from the center outwards. You don't want to rush your dough and tear it. Take your time with dough. Press outward, then stop and let the dough rest. Then resume pressing until you have the dough the way you want it. I may take 20-30 minutes just spreading the dough out. At this point, you could have taken the whole dough, or the other half and formed and turned it into a loaf pan and made a loaf of bread. This is a very versatile dough. I left the pizza dough in a barely warmed oven to rise...
Now, Mr. Hawthorne is working on his pizza toppings. Here's a tip: Slice your pepperoni, place on a paper towel, and nuke for about 40 seconds or more.
Oooh. I think Mr. Hawthorne has been paying attention to me. He's squishing the liquid out of the mushrooms.
Next, he added a thin layer of tomato sauce he'd seasoned and prepared last night. I don't like a lot of sauce on my pizza and we both agreed upon tasting that this was slightly on the heavy side.
As was the pizza. Before going into the oven, Mr. Hawthorne topped the pizza with oregano and cayenne pepper.
The crust was light, thin, and crispy. The sauce was almost too much, but I like a very thin, scarce sauce on my pizzas. The toppings were perfect. The flavors were all in balance. The herbiness of the oregano and the slight heat of the cayenne were excellent accompaniments to the rest of the ingredients. And did I mention? ... my crust kicked ass.