Thursday, July 24, 2008

Pizza Dough For All!

Everyone should have a ball of fresh pizza dough in their refrigerator at all times. It's ridiculously easy and you can make SO many things out of it. Here's my recipe:

3 1/2 cups flour
1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons dry active yeast
2 tablespoons honey or sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Combine water, yeast and sugar and set aside in a warm place until it begins to foam (4-5 minutes). Meanwhile in a bowl, mixer w/paddle or a food processor, combine salt and flour. Slowly stream in the yeast mixture and add the olive oil. If using a mixer or food processor, turn on and allow ingredients to combine until they form a ball of dough. If you're using a mixer, now is the time to switch to the dough hook. Knead (either by turning on your machine or by hand) for 2-3 minutes. Set aside in an oiled bowl, covered with a damp dish towel in a warm place (like an oven that has been turned on and then turned off and allowed to cool a bit but is still warm) for 30 minutes. After dough has doubled in size, punch down and allow to rise for another 30 minutes (20 if you're impatient) then you can do almost ANYTHING! See below my favorite uses for pizza dough.

1. Pizza, obviously. Sauce (I like pesto), cheeses (or not!), veggies, meats, whatever. Bake at 475 on a floured pizza pan or stone for 15-20 minutes until the crust is golden-brown and the cheese is melted and browned in spots.
2. Calzones! Simply roll dough out into an 6-inch circle, fill with your favorite ingredients, fold over, pinch the edges together until sealed, brush the top with olive oil and bake at 475F on a floured baking tray for 15-20 minutes until crust is golden brown.
3. Cinnamon rolls! They can even be prepared the night before and left in the refrigerator and then baked in the morning. Roll dough out into a 12-inch by 8-inch rectangle. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Roll up tightly to form an 8-inch cylinder. Cut into 1-inch slices and bake at 375F for 10-15 minutes. To make a quick glaze, combine 1/4 cup melted butter with 1/2 cup powdered sugar and drizzle over hot cinnamon rolls.
4. Flatbread! I love to roll out a small ball of dough, sprinkle it lightly with sea salt (or garlic and fresh parsley if I'm feeling festive!), and fry it in 1 teaspoon of olive oil on both sides until it is bubbly and browned in spots. Can be served like naan with Indian food or as a delicious accompaniment to soups. Also delicious sliced in wedges and served with hummus or topped with lightly dressed baby spinach and goat cheese and folded over. Yum! Instant dinner.
5. Homemade tortillas! While not a strictly traditional tortilla recipe, thinly rolled and lightly fried bits of pizza dough double very tastily as flour tortillas. I especially love to fill them with cotija cheese, black beans, avocado, onions and cilantro.
6. Parmesan bread sticks! These are a great way to make a simple salad seem like a special dinner. Simply roll pieces of pizza dough into thin-ish 6-inch cylinders and twist. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and sea salt and bake at 400F for 10-12 minutes until the bottoms are browned and the cheese is melted and brown in spots.

Nearly every yeasted bread dough can be substituted by pizza dough. I am telling you, keep this stuff in your fridge--it'll last in a plastic airtight bag for about a week--and you will never go hungry or order takeout unnecessarily again!



P.S. My perfect pizza: Fresh pesto, goat cheese, spinach and roasted red peppers. Served with arugula salad with lemon dressing. Mmm...maybe a glass of La Crema Chardonnay too.

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