Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Homemade Pizza Dough Smack Down
For years I've wanted to make homemade pizza dough. I'd come across a recipe, run out and buy all of the ingredients only to return home, re-read the recipe and get cold feet.
So many steps. Measure. Mix. Let rise. Punch down. Kneed. Let rest. Kneed again.
And what was with storing the dough in a warm place to let it rise? I mean - where is this 'warm place' in one's home? Near the gateway to hell in the basement?
Not to mention the time commitment - a whole afternoon spent pampering a helpless lump so it can become dinner IF all the steps go accordingly? Nope.
Besides I was an early Giada adopter and if she never felt the need to make her own dough then why the hell should I? Well here's why - I finally did and it may be the most rewarding thing I've done all year. Seriously. It's like gestating, delivering, and raising the perfect child in less than 4 hours. And you can eat it.
I'll tell you what finally motivated me. I'm about to have to part ways with my fabulous (rented) Gaggenau oven and I knew my chances of nailing the perfect crust would be greatly increased by using it. That thing is insane. I don't plug products on this 'ole blog of mine but I would try to sell one of those to an armless man. Seriously - it's amazing.
So whose recipes did I try for the cruel and ruthless smack down? Two from some of my favorite southern gals - Rebecca Rather of Rather Sweet Bakery and Cafe in Fredericksburg, TX and Ree Drummond of the famed blog and book The Pioneer Woman. And for once in my life I followed the recipes to a 'T' so I could report the results accurately. I even followed Ree's advice of letting the dough sit in the fridge for a few days as she claims it tastes even better that way.
I have to say both recipes were pretty easy to make, coming from someone who doesn't bake much and is dough-phobic. Ree's has a blessedly simple ingredient list (too simple? we shall see...) while Rebecca's has the advantage of being able to dump everything into the mixer and press a button. The downer is of course, you have to own a mixer (Ree says you can mix hers by hand and I have no reason to doubt her.) Ree's was also fairly idiot-proof. You slowly add the yeast/water mixture to the flour mixture with the mixer on low, and when it forms a solid mass around the dough hook, you're ready to turn it out into the oiled bowl.
Rebecca's took a little more guesswork, as her measurements vary (an additional 1-2 cups of flour, depending.) Here's what happened when I made hers. The dough would gather around the hook and form a mass at which point I thought I was done. But then it would kind of loosen and fall apart again and I would have to sprinkle in more flour so that it formed a cohesive shape again. I did this a few times until the shape finally held and began to breed little dough ball babies - little clumps about the size of an impressive booger. Instinctively I felt this meant to stop adding dough so I did. And though this wasn't in her instructions it will be in mine.
We tried Rebecca's dough last night and I have to say it was delicious. Maybe not as complex as I thought it would be given the addition of honey and semolina flour, but a perfect, crispy texture that could still hold up under two cheeses and several fat pieces of grilled shrimp.
Ree's is in my fridge and I'll report back to you later in the week with the results and both recipes. Will that time in the fridge work something magical on her dough?
PS - I should mention the fact that I found myself talking to the dough while making it. I might have even sang to it. I don't know if this aided its development or not but wanted to be completely honest with you for the sake of science.