Monday, March 2, 2009

Homemade Pizza, FTW

We New Yorkers are pretty chill about a lotta things. We grumble about expensive housing, dirty subways, and overcrowding, but considering our size, our reactions are pretty commensurate. In general, there’s not a lot of flipping out. Heck, in 2003, a region-wide blackout disabled most of the five boroughs for half a week IN AUGUST, and the entire city remained cooler than Andre 3000.

But god forbid you present us with substandard baseball, bagels, or pizza. They are our birthrights, and we will tweak mightily if they aren’t up to snuff. Those daily demonstrations in Union Square? Have nothing to do with Palestine or the evils of Capitalism. They happen because once, many years ago, a pissed-off NYU student was served a crappy bialy.

Which brings me to today’s recipe. Replicating New York pizza is impossible at home. I’ve had a few grilled slices that are decent imitations of brick-oven style pies, but nothing that would compete with your average experience at Ray’s. So, when I tried Money Saving Mom’s homemade crust (with The Kitchn’s prep directions), I was initially skeptical. Part of this came from my total inexperience with homemade pizza-making, and part of it came from … well, see: everything above.

Happily, it worked. The recipe yields a solid, medium-crust pizza - a little breadier than most versions, but not as thick as Sicilian-style pies. The Boyfriend and I found the whole shebang very tasty, and I’ve felt few moments of triumph sweeter than creating pizza from scratch. Graduating high school doesn’t compare.

Even better, the homemade pie costs less than $3 to make, total. With sauce and cheese. Toppings would add a bit more, but … $3. Seriously. (We added a cup of sautéed veggies for less than $1). Plus, you get a solid hour of entertainment to go along with it, as you watch your loved ones try to toss pizza dough. It’s pretty awesome.

Of course, if you go ahead with the pie, there are a few things to know:

1) When it comes to cheese, I usually buy blocks and grate it myself. It’s almost always cheaper, and for some reason, it tastes better than the pre-grated stuff. Pioneer Woman agrees.

2) The fat and calories of this particular homemade pizza is comparable to store-bought pies. Still, there’s the advantage of knowing exactly what’s going into it. And that’s fun.

3) If you’d like a thinner-crust pie, roll the dough out more and use a larger pan (maybe even a cookie sheet?) to hold the crust. OR only make a ¾ batch. Toppings, sauce, and cooking time can be increased or decreased proportionately.

4) The parchment paper (which is VERY different from wax paper) is key. The pie practically slid off the pan when we removed it from the oven. As an alternative, MSM suggests greasing the pan.

5) Don’t fear the yeast. This is my first time using the stuff, and things went surprisingly smoothly.

Folks, how do you make pizza? What kind of toppings? Tips? Tricks? Do tell.

Homemade Pizza
Adapted from Money Saving Mom and The Kitchn.
Makes one 12-inch pie, yielding 8 small pieces pizza

1 Tbsp. active dry yeast
1 cup barely lukewarm water (test with your finger)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2-1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup flour
Parchment paper
Pizza pan

1/2 – 3/4 cup your favorite tomato sauce
1 cup grated part-skim mozzarella

Lean topping options: sautéed vegetables, pineapple, Canadian bacon, sweet Italian turkey sausage, grilled chicken with barbecue sauce and cheddar

1) Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2) Dissolve yeast in the water with a whisk or spoon. Add rest of the ingredients and mix with a spoon, until it becomes a single lump of dough.

3) Dump lump on to a lightly floured surface. Knead dough for at least five minutes, adding a tablespoon or two of flour every minute. At the end, it should be smooth, elastic, and a little moist, with no real visible flour left on the surface. (Check the Money Saving Mom site for a picture.) It SHOULDN’T stick like gum to the table or rolling pin. If this happens, add more flour and keep kneading.

4) Shape the dough into a thick disk. With a rolling pin or the heel of your hand, massage the dough into a roughly circular shape, big enough so the edges would just be outside your pizza pan. If you want to try tossing it, go crazy. (The Boyfriend did this, and it actually came out pretty well.)

5) Cut a piece of parchment paper to match exactly over the pizza pan. Spread the dough on the parchment paper, and fold the edges of the dough over to make a crust.

6) Spread the sauce on the dough, using the back of a spoon. Then, evenly spread your desired toppings on top of the sauce. (Make sure all veggies and meat are cooked beforehand.) Bake for 11 to 14 minutes.

7) Remove pizza from oven, closing the door quickly to retain heat. Top pie with cheese. Stick it back in the oven for another 4 to 6 minutes.

8) Let pizza sit for five minutes.

9) Eat. Rejoice. Drink beer.

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price Per SLICE
255 calories, 6.7 g fat, $0.35

1 Tbsp. active dry yeast: 35 calories, 0.6 g fat, $0.86
1 cup lukewarm water: negligible calories and fat, FREE
1 teaspoon sugar: 16 calories, 0 g fat, $0.01
1 teaspoon salt: negligible calories and fat, $0.01
2 tablespoons vegetable oil: 247 calories, 28 g fat, $0.18
3 cups flour: 1365 calories, 3.8 g fat, $0.27
1/2 – 3/4 cup your favorite tomato sauce: 90 calories, 3 g fat, $0.44
1 cup grated part-skim mozzarella: 288 calories, 18 g fat, $1.00
TOTAL: 2041 calories, 53.6 g fat, $2.77
PER SLICE (TOTAL/8): 255 calories, 6.7 g fat, $0.35
NOTE: Calculations are for a plain pie. Toppings will change the numbers.


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