May 042012
 
Updated: May 8, 2012

If a pizza has a radius Z and a depth A, its volume can be defined as Pi*Z*Z*A

Deb Jefferson's PizzaDeb Jefferson

Deb Jefferson's Pizza


If Art”s latest poll on The Groton Line is any indication, a lot of us recognize really good pizza when we see it, but not many seem to want to make their own. Now, I”ve never met a pizza that I didn”t like… good, bad, ugly….if you are really hungry, or too busy, they all work… but, I guess I would have to admit that too greasy would stop me in my tracks. A good way to avoid all that, and get exactly what you want, when you want it, is to make your own. Make a lot, and you have some to eat now, some to freeze for another pizza attack, or to treat guests to an impromptu pizza party.

Making your own pizza can be as quick as making the dough, letting it rise for an hour, then shaping, topping, baking and eating…not quite as spontaneous as take out, but so worth the wait. Or, you can make the dough whenever you have a few minutes, and let it rise in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 days, or until you are ready for it, the longer rise will allow the dough to develop a more complex flavor and structure. I”ve done it both ways; after all it IS p-i-z-z-a, and it”s always good!

As you can imagine, toppings are only limited by your imagination… go healthy, or go decadent and meaty, use up leftovers even, it”s up to you. The general formula I like to use goes like this… some sort of sauce: commercial pizza sauce (Boboli is good), or drained chopped tomatoes and garlic, or fresh tomatoes, or alfredo sauce, or even ranch dressing works well.

Then, add some toppings: veggies, meat, cooked chicken, seafood… etc… Top it off with some cheese, a sprinkle of oregano, and a light drizzle of olive oil. Just remember, when it comes to toppings, less is more. Some of my favorite combinations are: leftover pulled pork with BBQ sauce, caramelized onions, and cheese; or maybe ranch dressing, cooked chicken, bacon, fresh tomatoes and chopped scallions, and of course, good old veggies with cheese and basil.

Recipe: Deb Jefferson’s Pizza Dough

Summary: This is the dough that I make, it”s adapted from a published King Arthur Flour recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 ¾ cups Flour
  • 1 ¼ cups Semolina
  • 1 teasp. Yeast
  • 1 ½ teasp. Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive oil
  • 1 ¼ cups warm Water (115 degrees or less)
  • 2 Tablespoons Honey

Instructions

  1. Mix everything together and knead until you”ve created a nice soft dough.
    You may need to adjust the amount of water slightly to achieve this, it”s better if the dough is slightly ‘tacky”, yet still easy to handle. Add a little more water, if necessary; using too much flour will only create a hard, dry crust.
  2. Place dough into a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled in volume, about an hour; it really depends upon room temperature.
  3. At this point, you can place the dough (covered with plastic wrap) into the refrigerator, for a few days until you are ready for it. Check it occasionally, and give it a ‘fold”; reach in and fold opposite edges of the dough ball towards the center, then flip the dough over. I try to do this each day, it helps to redistribute the yeast as it is working.
  4. When you are ready to make pizza, take the dough out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature before continuing with the steps below.
  5. Pre-heat your oven (and baking stone if you are using one) to 450 degrees. Allow enough time for the baking stone itself to come up to temperature. (I use a baking stone over a hot fire of hardwood charcoal on a Big Green Egg cooker, almost as good as a real wood fired pizza oven, but you can still make really great pizza in your home oven.)
  6. While your oven is heating, shape and top your pizzas.
  7. Divide the dough into two portions, stretch them into 12-14” circles. (If you are using a baking stone, place the dough on a piece of parchment paper, and using scissors, trim the paper close to the edge of the dough. This will allow you to easily slide the pizzas onto the stone. Place the parchment and dough as a unit onto a pizza peel, or onto the back of a baking sheet, you will use this as a tool to place your pizza on the hot stone. Some folks use cornmeal to allow the pizza to slide off the peel, but I find that it tends to burn, and smells and tastes bad.)
  8. If you are not using a baking stone, place your dough into a lightly oiled pan.
  9. Add your toppings.
  10. Slide your masterpiece (parchment paper and all) onto the hot stone or place your pan pizza in the oven and bake until brown and bubbly; usually about 14 minutes. If you are using a stone, the bottom will be nice and brown and crisp, and the parchment paper allows for an easy ‘on and off” the peel.

Preparation time: 1 hour(s)

Cooking time: 15 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 8

Enjoy! Takeout pizza is certainly quick and convenient, but when you make your own from scratch you can be sure you know what”s really in it!