Pizza from Scratch in an Hour

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When I have lots of little containers of leftovers in my refrigerator, I think about making pizza. I knead the dough in my KitchenAid in about five minutes. You could also use the dough cycle on a bread machine or a food processor. If you knead it by hand, you’ll need an extra ten or fifteen minutes and you’ll get a little good arm exercise. Using yeast and making dough didn’t come easy to me for some reason. When my friend came to visit and I wanted to make some fresh bread, my thermometer was broken and I killed my yeast and failed. Now I don’t even use a thermometer. If your liquid is hot like bath water, that’s about right. Sometimes the dough has been too thin and hard to handle. One time I had to fold my pizza dough in two, it had gotten so stretchy. It’s incidents like that make my husband call me Lucy, for Lucille Ball. Adding a little flour can help, but don’t get too carried away in the other direction. Whatever happens, don’t tell anyone. They probably won’t notice, or they’ll tell you that it was the best crust you ever made yet…

Today I didn’t have any drama. I used leftover bits of stewed lamb for one pizza, and some smoked turkey pieces (which I froze after Thanksgiving,) for the other. I chopped up some artichoke hearts, onion and mushrooms to put on both pizzas, and of course I added some shredded cheese.

My secret ingredient is spreading BBQ sauce on the dough instead of tomato paste. I also use some whole grain flour in the dough. This recipe is good for two pizza crusts, which is generally enough to feed five of us. I have two well seasoned pizza stones. Most pizza making instructions I have read tell you to roll out your dough, spread your toppings and then slide the whole thing onto your stone. I’ve never gotten the knack of sliding a loaded pizza. What I do is shape my dough, place it on my stone, pre-heated in the oven, and then put the toppings on. The dough starts to rise as soon as I put it on the hot stone. I work fast from there to dress up both pizzas and get them in the oven.

Ingredients for dough for two pizzas.

1 1/8 cup warm water
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 1/14 tsp. yeast
4 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat or rye flour
3/4 teaspoon salt

For the toppings

Use whatever you want. I use up stuff in my fridge before it spoils. Go heavy or light. I use BBQ sauce to spread on the dough. You could also use tomato paste. Cheese is traditional but not necessary.

Directions

Lightly grease a bowl and warm it in the oven at 400º for two minutes. Place all your ingredients in your mixing bowl in the order above and knead with a dough hook for five minutes, until it forms a nice ball with a consistent texture. Place the ball of dough in the warm bowl, cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to rise for 45 minutes.

Meanwile, place your pizza stones in the oven and pre-heat to 500º. Get together your leftovers that you will use for toppings on your pizza and cut everything into bite size pieces. If you use something drippy, (like chopped tomatoes or marinated artichoke hearts,) place it in a strainer over a bowl to let it drain so that it won’t make your pizza soggy.

When your dough has about doubled in size, pick it up and squeeze it in the middle to divide it into two pieces. Shape each piece on a cutting board with your hands or a rolling pin, to fit the shape of your pizza stone. (You could also use large baking sheets, but they won’t hold heat so you will need to add a minute or two to your baking time.)

Take your pre-heated stones out of the oven, sprinkle a little corn meal on them and then place your dough on top. Brush each one with BBQ sauce, sprinkle half of your cheese, spread your toppings, sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake in the oven for 9-11 minutes.

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