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Pizza and Me

I love pizza.

There's not much else to say and while I know it's not a unique topic to cover, how to make a pizza. The fact that I didn't have a recipe and hadn't made a dough in what felt like a million years, was.

I started with what I knew I needed.

Flour, basic first ingredient, I had 5 cups or about 1250 ml of flour and while that is mostly true, the real truth is, I sort of just emptied out the rest of the bag of flour we had and weighed it. So to be more precise, 600 grams.

I know I needed to have sugar, I only had raw sugar which is why it's brown but I hoped that would work. There are two reasons to add sugar, one for the flavor and two for a little assistance for the yeast, yeast is an amazing ingredient but like all living things, sometime it needs help and sugar helps it do it's job.

Next the salt, I couldn't decide how much, so about half of the sugar is what I went with in the end, and while content with the result it could have been a tiny bit salter.

And lastly the yeast itself, I used 14grams of instant yeast (I would have preferred fresh yeast but what can you do, you make do with what you have). A fun fact about me, I have been a chef for all of my adult life, and like most other Chefs, I have very little feeling in my hands. This comes from always handling hot things (frying pans, baking trays and even the food) and sometime when a Chef gets a little behind (spanked) we take some short cuts to try and get back in the game, and one of those short cuts is not looking for the oven mits or bothering to get a kitchen rag, which just grab hold. As a result, our hands loose a little sensitivity to heat. So figuring out the the proper temp for the water can be tricky. Too hot kills the yeast and too cold, the yeast doesn't want to work, so the right temp is very critical. The trick I use is to put the water in a container and hold it to my bottom lip, stupid I know, but it works. For everyone else, the water needs to be room temp or slightly warm to the touch. Give it a good stir when adding to the yeast and let the two go on a date or two for about 5 minutes. For the 14grams of yeast, I used 1.5 cups of water. Seemed to be okay. Then I slowly added the yeast water to the flour.

After some serious kneading time, about 10 minutes. Why 10 minutes? It just felt right. I had an oddly shaped ball. I could only then hope that the yeast would do it's job and so I covered it with a kitchen towel and let it rest. How long? About an hour or listen to this entire album (Josh Ritter)

After that, I punched down the dough, which means I took my fist and hit the middle of dough, with enough force to let the air out of the dough but not enough to put a whole through the table.

After cutting the dough into two, I then covered them in a cloth again and let them recover from the beating I just gave them, about 5 minutes.

Then I rolled the dough's....then I got bored and thought I should play some opera and throw them in the air, you know, reasons.

As a result of my "artistic style" of dough flinging, the pizza dough ended up looking like:

I then took the sauce that I made, sort of a vegan "meat" sauce and smeared it across the dough.

As you can see, one pizza I tried to make it look a bit fancier and one, I was curious if I didn't do anything what would happen?

Next, I took my veggies

And Cheese (this is optional or you can use the vegan cheese if you would prefer) and carefully placed the veggies and cheese "evenly" around the pizza dough's.

And threw into a hot oven about 220 C. Crossed my fingers and waited for about 15 minutes. I should point out that it is critical that the dough be cooked. If you are nervous at all, first do a blind bake, which means before adding the sauce, throw it into your oven for 5 to 10 minutes, then cool a bit and add your ingredients.

The results:

Both were tasty; though the crust on the pepper and mushroom pizza was much nicer. (must have been all the love that I put into it). Now, I really did guess about the amount of yeast and while I was a bit lucky, I also was trained to be a Chef, so part of me being lucky was remembering it from school. If, I hadn't let the dough rise for so long, making this pizza from scratch, would have taken about the amount of time, as ordering one. The difference, though is remarkable. While you can get great pizza out there, far too often the pizza is crap. So why not try and make one for yourself, use what you have and just have a little fun with it.


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