Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Pizza from scratch

Making Home Made pizza from scratch had been on my 'To-Do' list for a long long time. And finally I made it this Friday, as we enjoyed it with a Tamil Comedy Movie.
I had always thought that it was a time consuming dish and so had always put it away for later. But only after you actually get your hands on the recipe do you know that it is fairly simple with some planning and not at all time consuming. The best part is you can play around with the toppings as you wish. I am sure the kids would enjoy making the pizza as well as eating them!
Note: I did not have a pizza stone and I baked using a baking tray lined with parchment paper.



Makes 2 medium size thin crust pizza - serves 4

Ingredients Required:

For the base:
All Purpose Flour - 3 cups
Active Dry Yeast - 1 tblspn / 1 packet
Warm Milk - 1/2 cup
Warm Water - 1/2 cup
Sugar - 1 tblspn
Salt - as needed
Olive oil - 1/4 cup

Pizza Sauce:
Marinara Pasta Sauce - 1/4 cup
(Actually should use Pizza Sauce, but this is what I had in hand. There was no difference in taste)

Topping:
Garlic Powder - As needed
Italian Seasoning - As needed
Onion - 1, sliced
Tomato - 1, chopped
Capsicum - 1/2 of each color, chopped (I used red, green and orange)
Corn Kernals - 1/4 cup
Spring Onion - 4, chopped
Mozzerella Cheese - 2 cups
Salt - as needed
How to make?
First let us prepare the base.
Take bowl and add the warm water, suger and salt. Mix well. Add the yeast and allow to dissolve. Whisk it and set aside for 5 minutes. A frothy layer would be formed on top. Now the yeast is active.
Slowly add in the flour, and warm milk and oil and gather the contents. Do not knead too much. Just gently fold so everything is combined.
Apply a tsp of olive oil on top of the dough and keep covered for 3 - 4 hours. The dough would rise to double its size. Keep this is a warm place. I usually keep this in my oven switched off.
After 3 - 4 hours, punch down the dough and again set aside covered in a warm place.
I usually prepare the dough in the afternoon, for Pizza dinner night.

[Sorry forgot to click a pic!]
Then prepare the toppings, slice the onion, chop the tomatoes, capsicum, spring onions and set aside so it would be easier while making the pizza.
[Sorry forgot to click a pic!]
Now lets make some Pizza!

First pre-heat the oven to 400 F. Usually a pizza stone is kept inside the oven to heat up its surface. But I didn't have one. So I used a normal baking tray and it result was just as same. Place the baking tray inside the oven and pre-heat.

Divide the dough into two equal halfs. Roll out into a ball.
Clean up the surface where you are going to make the base. I used a large cutting board with a parchment paper so it would be easier to slide the pizza to the baking tray. Flour the surface.  Now gently with your fingers flatten it out to a circle. I used my fingers and a rolling pin to achieve this. You can also stretch it out, the dough would stretch with its own weight.  Do not thin out the ends. Let the ends of the circle be thick and thin out the center part. So you would get a thick crust and a thinner center part. Prick out some holes with a fork so the base does not puff up. Spray or brush some olive oil on the surface.

 

Since I did not have stone, I was in my own doubts whether the base would get fully cooked. As usually the heat from the pizza stone bakes the base from the bottom. I did not want to risk that, so I baked the base alone for 2 minutes, till light brown spots appeared on the surface. [Check Notes for other version]
To transfer the base to the baking tray, pull out the shelf with the baking tray in the oven, gently slide the cutting board, so the parchment paper slides out on to the baking tray. It is not as difficult as it sounds. If you have another pair of helping hands, they can just lift the parchment paper and place it on the tray.
Bake for not more that 2 minutes, as we do not want the base to be burnt. This step can be avoided if you are using a pizza stone.

Now once the base gets a head start of the baking, after 2 minutes open the oven, and gently lift the parchment paper from the tray and place it on your cutting board. Be sure to wear oven mittens on boths hands.
Now comes the decoration part!
Apply a thin layer of the pizza/pasta sauce. Do not be very generous as we do not want a soggy pizza.
Sprinkle some garlic powder and italian seasoning.
Now place out all the toppings that you want. I went generous on the veggies to be more healthy.
Sprinkle some salt on the vegetables.
Generously top it uo with shredded cheese, so the veggies are totally covered.
Drizzle some olive oil on top and also brush some olive oil on the crust for a crispier crust.
Now the pizza is already for the final bake.
Slide the pizza in the oven as before and bake at 400 F for 12 - 15 minutes.
Keep checking on the pizza towards the end as all the ovens are different and we don't want to burn the pizza.
Remove from the oven, when you spot brown spots on the cheese.
Cool down for a minute and slice out with a pizza cutter or a knife. I think you can make 8 slices.
Do the same with the other pizza.
Pizza is ready to be enjoyed!
Notes:
You can use any topping that you like or omit what yod do not like. I just made use of the vegetables at home.
Other toppings that you can use - Olives, Jalapenos, Mushrooms, Artichokes, Broccoli, Spinach, Baby Corn etc.
Other Cheese you can use - Parmesan, Ricotta and even cubes of paneer.
To make it more Indianish you can use - Paneer cubes and sprinkle some garam masala at the end on top of the toppings.

I had my own doubts since I did not have a pizza stone whether the base would be cooked so gave it a head start. I also tried the other pizza without giving the base the head start, that is, baked the base with the topping together for the same time. The result was the first pizza where the base was baked for some time was more crispier and the second pizza where the base and the toppings where baked together was more soft. I personally preferred the softer version.





Sorry for the way to many clicks! Just couldn't stop clicking :)

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