I have been living off this recipe for many years in one form or another. I always looked forward to pizza night at the house. When you move out on your own, one of the first things you want is a taste of what you knew and loved.
Mom documented this recipe with great detail and shared it with me. I am continue to share it and use it to this day. The best part is you do not need an expensive mixer. Just a bowl, cup, pan and an oven and you can have great pizza.
I devised this method as a result of learning tortilla making methods and an inability to knead dough as recommended in the cookbooks. With regard to making bread, the cookbooks always said "knead the dough by pushing it away from you and then pull it back until it is smooth and elastic." [However,] short, squatty me, didn't have the upper body strength to handle so much dough at one time. So I resorted to handling my bread dough, start-to-finish in small increments. The results have always been satisfying.
- 4 cups flour
- 1 cup bottled or filtered water
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- ¼ cup (heaping) sugar
- 2 Tbs yeast
Place the flour in a wide shallow bowl and set aside. You can also set aside an extra cup of flour if you think you will need it for kneading.
The Liquid solution:
(I just usually use a large pickle jar, but for illustration purposes I used my measuring cup).....
Place the 1 cup of water a 2-cup pyrex cup & heat water for 1 minute in microwave Add oil-salt-sugar to water & stir to dissolve. Note: DO NOT ADD THE YEAST yet, as water is still too hot and will kill the yeast
Test the water solution: should be warm, not hot
Add the yeast and stir to dissolve; set aside for 5 minutes. (During this time you can actually see the yeast activate and start feeding on the sugar in the solution which will start foaming. It's fun to watch.)
After 5 minutes stir down yeast solution and proceed with making the dough.
Making the Dough
Make a "well" or, form a little depression in the middle of the 4 cups of dough and pour about ¼ cup of the yeast solution into that well. Take your index finger into the well and in a circling motion around the well, gather as much flour as the liquid can hold; gather the little wad of dough (about Pladoh consistency) and set it on the countertop. Continue with this process until you run out of either the liquid or flour. If you have liquid left, add a little flour to the bowl; if you have flour left in the bowl just add a little water to the remaining flour, gather it up and add it to the big mound of dough on the counter.
At this point, the dough must be worked to a smooth consistency. This is called kneading. (This is where the cookbooks tell you to "push & pull" ) . I have my own way of kneading by which I form the dough into a long strand then I push and pull on small portions of the dough all the way down until I get to the end. Then I fold the dough onto itself; form into a long strand again; and proceed to push and pull in small increments again.
Knead for about 10-15 minutes, depending on how energetic you are. Actually, this is quite theraputic for many people. I've heard people say that kneading lets out a lot of aggression. Personally, I find it quite satisfying just to feel a coarse, formless wad of dough shape up into something smooth and elastic--a thing of beauty!!
Form dough into a large ball, tucking under all around the edges so that you have a smooth surface. Place dough in a bowl into which you have poured a little oil at the bottom. Turn the bottom side of the dough to the top thus coating the entire ball with oil.. Cover with plastic wrap and place in warm, draft-free place to rise until doubled in bulk(90 min to 2 hrs).The microwave with the door slightly ajar so that the interior light is on is a great "proofing oven."
When dough is doubled in size, gently deflate the dough and turn out onto a lightly floured surface & knead about 2 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes, covered.
Now you can form the dough into anything you want: Pizza, calzones, cinnamon rolls, coffee cake, etc.
Pizza rustica:(Don't need a pizza pan) Using a silpat or a cookie sheet lined with no-stick aluminum foil, roll out or with fingers, spread dough onto pan. Top with favorite pizza toppings.
makes 2 circular pizzas or 1 large sheet pizza
My pizza sauce is a combination of crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper, garlic powder, sugar, fennel, basil and oregano and a little olive oil. Don't have to cook it, but you do have to taste it for sweetness--you don't want it too sweet but you definitely want a sweet hint to the sauce.
Meats and seasonings:
I always have used ground beef seasoned with my own combination of Italian seasoning: crushed fennel, basil, oregano and black pepper. Brown the beef and add seasonings, drain, cool and set aside. You can even do large quantities of meat and store in the freezer for future pizzas.
If you are inclined, you can toast the fennel before you use it, and it gives a better flavor to the dishes. Toasted fennel: just spread seeds onto a baking sheet and place into a 300 degree oven for about 7-10 minutes. Allow to cool and return the seeds to the original container. Use your stick blender and the little grinder that comes with it to crush your seasonings.
fresh green peppers cut into strips slivers of onion mushrooms spinach Use your imagination
Mozzarella with some olive oil in it--this is what makes pizza stringy and gooey! You can go whole hog and do a combination of Mozz and Provalone, but Mozz alone is good.
Parmesan cheese on top; Romano and Parmesan is even better. Sprinkle with a pinch of oregano and basil on top of the parmesan
Do not overload your pizza or the dough will stay raw in the center.
400degrees 12-15 minutes or until done. Pizza is done when cheese is melted & bubbly on top AND you peek on the underside with a spatula and crust is brown. Adjust cooking time to suit your oven.