In the meantime, I'm curled up at My desk with a tall glass of Kirin, a nice Japanese beer that features a very good-looking Oriental unicorn on the label.
Downstairs are the remnants of a ham and pineapple pizza (for Myself and Red and the Invisible Pink Unicorn, mHhhnbs!) and a pepperoni pizza for 'Chala. Both are homemade. Here's the recipe:
- For two 9" x 13" (cookie-sheet-size) pizzas, you'll need between 1½ and 2 cups of fairly hot but not boiling water. (1½ cups will make a thin crust; adjust upwards according to your preference.)
- In a large bowl, dissolve a tablespoon of sugar into the hot water and then slosh it around the bowl. This warms the bowl and cools the water down somewhat. Body temperature or slightly below is perfect.
- Sprinkle one package of regular dry yeast onto the sugar water, then set the bowl down in a warm place for about ten minutes.
- While you're waiting, throw together some garlic butter: One or two cloves to about a quarter-cup of softened unsalted butter. Mix thoroughly and park off to one side for now.
- After ten minutes, the yeast should be foaming in the bowl. Pour in a tablespoon or two of vegetable oil (your choice) and a pinch of salt. Mix vigorously with a fork.
- Toss in, all at once, a cup or two of whole wheat flour and at least one cup of white flour. By 'toss in, all at once' I mean 'Dump it into the bowl without bothering to mix it yet'. Then, when the flour's measured in, take your hand and vigorously stir the flour into the water as fast as you possibly can. Don't stop till the original flour is all mixed in and you have the beginnings of bread dough.
- Now you can add some more flour. Add ½ a cup at a time, kneading and pressing and flipping the dough over in the bowl until the dough is no longer sticking to your hands. Continue to dust with flour and knead it in until you can still feel moisture but not much stickiness in the dough.
- Form the dough into a ball and take it out of the bowl for a moment. Lightly oil the inside of the bowl; put the dough back in (flipping it once to grease it); cover with a lid or a tea towel; and park it in a warm place.
- Now, prepare the fillings. Chop up an onion, some mushrooms, and some peppers (any colour) and sautée them in a bit of butter or oil. Drain thoroughly. Grate the cheese, if you didn't buy it pre-grated. (Mozzarella and Edam makes a very nice combination.) Slice or chop the meat. Anything you want on the pizza, get it ready now.
- About ten minutes before the fillings are ready, punch down the dough in the bowl; divide it in half, one piece for each pizza; and let it rest.
- Finish getting the fillings ready, then shove them off to one side and clean the counter to make room for dough-rolling. Oil the cookie sheets.
- Now's also a good time to preheat the oven: I recommend 350℉ and 25-30 minutes for a thicker crust, 375-400℉ and 15-20 minutes for a thin crust. If you're not sure, set the oven at 375℉; you'll be keeping an eye on the pizza as it bakes, anyway.
- Dust the counter lightly with whole wheat flour and plunk down one ball of dough. Shape it into a rectangle, then roll it out until it's slightly larger than the cookie sheet. Flip over and dust with flour as required. Place on the cookie sheet and crimp the edges slightly, using overhanging pieces of dough to fill in any sparse areas around the edges. Use a fork to poke lots of holes all over the crust so that rogue air bubbles don't displace the fillings as the pizza bakes.
- Cover the entire sheet of dough with garlic butter, or with a mixture of pesto and garlic butter. Not too much, though, or it'll be overpowering and greasy.
- Add the toppings. My preferred order (bottom to top) is the meat, then a bit of cheese, then the cooked and drained onion/mushroom/pepper mixture, then any other toppings you want to throw on, then another layer of cheese.
- Bake in moderate to moderate-high oven for 15-30 minutes, depending on the initial heat and the dough thickness. After the first ten minutes, check the pizza and turn the heat down if the edge of the crust is browning too fast. While you wait, roll the dough for the second pizza and get it ready to go in the oven.
- The pizza is ready when all the cheese is melted and slightly browned, and when a peek under the pizza reveals a firm, lightly toasted crust. Let it sit out of the oven for at least five minutes before cutting and serving.
(raises Her beer) Happy New Year to all!