Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Life of Pi(zza)

What to do in Michigan on a snowy Friday night? MAKE PIZZA! Our standby has been a decadent, buttery Chicago-style deep dish recipe from Cook's Illustrated (found here), but in order to go easy on our wallets and waists, I decided to make a thin pizza crust without so much crust. I was going for a St. Louis-style crispy thin crust, but this ended up more like a hand-tossed. But a hand-tossed I liked! This crust would be a perfect canvas for your favorite sauces and toppings, as it's a good balance between thin and thick. Load 'em on!

Tip for a crispy crust: I used my brand new cast-iron pan to make these, which works really great for the crust (even better than a pizza stone, in my opinion), but if you don't have one, feel free to use a regular baking pan or a pizza stone. The trick I used with the cast-iron pan is I built the pizza in the room temperature cast-iron pan and then I let the pan heat up on the stove on high for five minutes, then I (using oven mitts!) transferred the pan into the preheated oven to bake for 8-12 minutes. This results in a crispy crust -- don't skip this step!

My favorite toppings: pesto, roasted garlic, fresh basil, caramelized onions, cherry tomatoes, thinly-sliced potatoes, Match Meat sausage, Daiya cheese

Homemade Pizza Crust:

Adapted from Pizza Dough in Vegan with a Vengeance

1 cup warm water
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoos olive oil, plus more for the bowl and brushing the crust
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
Cornmeal (for sprinkling the pan)

Combine water, sugar and yeast in a large bowl. Let sit for five minutes. Add flour, olive oil and salt. Stir well and then use hands to form a dough. Knead for 10 minutes or so, then form dough into a ball. Oil bowl and cover dough with oil. Cover bowl with damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour, until doubled in size.

After dough has risen, punch dough down and cover again. Let rest for 10 minutes or so. Meanwhile, sprinkle pan with cornmeal. Divide dough in half and either roll out or use your hands to stretch the dough into a 14-inch diameter crust. Transfer to cast-iron pan (or your preferred pan), brush crust with olive oil and add your favorite toppings. Preheat pan on stove over high heat for five minutes, then transfer pan to oven (carefully using oven mitts!) and bake for 8-12 minutes. Repeat with second crust and enjoy!

Yield: 2 14-inch diameter pizzas

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