A slice of culinary heaven or I hope so, at-least.

July 4, 2011 | By | COMMENTS

A slice of culinary heaven or I hope so, at-least. 1
I believe, Alton brown said it best that if we are to taste a “real” pizza then, we must take back the reins of control from those “delivery chains” that have squandered away “taste” and “quality” for a 30 minute delivery clause and turn to our very own kitchens to claim a piece of that oooey gooey cheesy goodness that we have taken for granted.

Our main players:

Hand tossed crust

Dry Ingredients

2 Tablespoons Sugar
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Active dry yeast
2 Cups Bread Flour (All purpose should do but, bread flour will be better)

Wet Ingredients

¾ Cup Warm Water
1 Teaspoon Oil ( olive or any flavoured oil)

Procedure

Combine all the dry ingredients, then add all the wet ingredients to the dry mixture. If you have one of those stand mixers that would be the best option to do what comes next. Since, I had no such tools to my disposal, therefore I had to resort to a little hand held mixer with two dough hook attachments.
I kneaded the dough using the mixer for next 10-15 minutes allowing the dough to rest every few minutes. After that I hand kneaded the dough for another 2-3 minutes, although this was less for kneading and more for shaping the dough into something that would resemble a ball.

I know this seems a tad extreme, however if you skip the above steps or become lazy with the kneading, your pizza dough will tear as your try to make the crust. However, if you knead the dough properly and effectively, your efforts will be well rewarded.

Now, this ball was then coated with olive oil, deposited into a large bowl and covered with clear plastic wrap. I left this bowl out on the balcony (it was a warm, slightly humid day) till the ball was 3 to 4 times its original size.

Once the dough had risen, I divided the dough into two sections, I put the second section aside for a rainy day and focused my attention on the first piece. I flattened the dough with my palms to get the really big air bubbles out, after that I rolled up the dough into a ball and put it back in the bowl (out on the balcony) for another hour.

After the hour was up, I retrieved my now almost double in size dough ball. Again as before I flattened the dough with my palms however, this time, I just stopped short of the edge of the dough, this in essence what created the lip of the pizza crust.

A slice of culinary heaven or I hope so, at-least. 3

Now, once this is done, I threw the dough (now a disc) gently back and forth between my hands, rotating it every so slightly with every throw. Besides, looking really cool, the force of the throw and the heavier lip of the disc is what really pulls and stretches the dough.

Now, I oven cook my pizza in a cast iron skillet ( which in my humble opinion handles the heat better than any other cookware).

Pizza sauce

I cheated here and used a store bought sauce, as I still have not figured how to make the perfect pizza sauce. I used about 4 teaspoons of the sauce of my pizza.

Toppings

I was in the mood for a hearty pizza, therefore I went for a barrage of options.

Ingredients

2 Sweet red bell peppers
2 Mild poblano chilies
1 Whole red onion ~ caramelised
Diced hot capicolla
Pepperoni slices
Mozzarella cheese
Monterey Jack cheese

I roasted some sweet red peppers and some poblano chilies. Sliced them into bite sized pieces. I think roasting the peppers is a good idea, as it reduces the cooking time, which is very essential because if you try to cook raw peppers all the way to doneness, chances are that your crust will be superbly charred (also read burnt :D) and that wont be a very good thing.

A slice of culinary heaven or I hope so, at-least. 4

I like using red and green peppers on a pizza for the colours as much as for the flavours. And since we eat with eyes before we actually taste the food, I think the colour scheme makes a big difference on how we perceive the food will eventually taste.

Assembly

This is the simple part, the crust goes in the skillet, the sauce on the crust. I used a 50-50 mix of the cheeses, then the pepperoni and capicolla and then the roasted bell, poblano peppers and caramelised onion mix.

I let the assembled pizza sit for another 30 minutes.

The entire contraption then went into a 475 F over for about…..well I not going to tell you that, because honestly the cooking times depend on many factors. The oven ( some ovens don’t hit their preset temperature, even though they say they do), maybe your pizza crust is lot thinner than mine ( it might cook a lot faster).

Therefore, you need to check your pizza every so often. My oven for example does not heat evenly, so every 2-3 minutes I would rotate my skillet 180 degrees so that the pizza would cook evenly.
Once the crust was risen, cooked, evenly browned and the cheese was slightly bubbly, I pulled the skillet out of the oven and with a slight shake of the skillet the pizza landed neatly on the cooling/cutting board.

I brushed some extra virgin olive oil on the crust to give it some richness and some colour and then tried my best to wait for 5 minutes to allow the pizza to rest all while hoping for a rainy day tomorrow.

A slice of culinary heaven or I hope so, at-least. 5

Categories: Recipes

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