No. 6: Rushed Pizza Dough & Chicken Pesto Pizza

I travel throughout the year, mainly for work (which I love).

Mr. McCormick does well fending for himself. But when he gets tired of what's in the kitchen, he has a standard order with our favorite local pizza joint, Patxi's. He loves The Matt Cain, a deep dish meat extravaganza loaded with pepperoni and garlic-fennel sausage. It's hungry man perfection, just like Matt Cain's perfect game.

You see, my husband's favorite food is pizza. He'll take it any style, any kind (but sausage and wood-fired are words that make him swoon with happiness).

Pizza lover

(The pizza lover and our two kiddos.)

Pizza dough

This is where I have to make another confession. I have never made my own pizza dough.

I have baked many types of bread, rolls and other wonderful treats. But there are just so many well priced, wonderfully herbed, pre-made pizza dough options out there. They are all beckoning, telling me it can be easier than waiting overnight for my dough to rise.

And dough worries me. It's tempermental. It appreciates patience. I don't always have a lot of that.

Then I came across the wonder that is Smitten Kitchen. Deb Perelman has many of the same food philosophies I do. That cold fruit crisps make great breakfasts. That buttermilk usually trumps regular milk. That sphagetti squash is an awful pasta substitute (sorry, I can't get behind this trend at all).

And, luckily for me, she believes that pizza making can be a painless process with dough made from scratch in less than an hour.

Rushed Pizza Dough

This pizza dough has a leisurely 8-hour rise option, but I went for the rushed version which only takes about 45 minutes thanks to a warm oven. Perfect for weeknight pizza, or in our case, a lazy Saturday night.

Ingredients

1/2 cup warm water (110 to 116 degrees)
1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups all-purpose or bread flour, plus more for counter
1 teaspoon table salt
Olive oil, for coating bowl

To make

Turn your oven on to warm (about 200 to 225 degrees) for five minutes, then turn it off.

Pour 1/2 cup warm water into the bowl of your electric mixer, sprinkle the yeast over the water, and let it stand for 5 minutes. Add the flour, then salt, and mix with your dough hook at a moderate speed until the mixture starts to form a craggy mass. Reduce the speed to low and mix for 5 minutes, letting the hook knead the mass into a smooth, elastic dough. Remove dough and wipe out bowl.

If you prefer to make the dough by hand, you can follow the steps above in a mixing bowl. Then simply knead the dough for 5 minutes on a lightly floured surface.

dough

(At this point, things were going well.)

Coat inside of mixing bowl with olive oil, place dough back in bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Place in previously warmed oven, and let it sit for 30 minutes or until doubled. Remove dough from oven.

Turn out the dough onto a floured counter (if you want to roll it out), pizza peel, or prepared baking sheet, and let your recipe take it from here.

The results

After 30 minutes in the oven under plastic wrap, I checked the dough. A small, "Uh oh" popped in my mind.

The dough looked too dry, a bit cooked already. Sure enough, when I began to roll it out it was crumbly and not binding. With some extra olive oil and the rolling pin I was able to get it moist enough to coax into our pizza pan.

I should also note at this point I had uttered a few choice words and decided a second glass of wine was warranted.

The dough may have been in the pan, but it was terribly thin. And the shape was not at all spherical. Quite frankly, it looked a lot like Antarctica.

Antarctic Pizza

I topped our questionable dough with pesto, then added roasted chicken, thin slices of red pepper, sun-dried tomatoes, red pepper flakes (to taste) and mozzarella.

After 10 minutes at 400 degrees, it came out looking like a real pizza.

Antarctica

See!? Antarctica!

The middle was still a bit soft. Grr. But the edges were flavorful and crisp. We were so hungry we devoured it all anyway.

By no means a disaster, but not a terrific outcome.

Was the oven too hot? Did I over-do the kneading? Should I have covered the bowl with a damp towel instead of plastic?

I seek the answers to these questions. So I'll be trying homemade pizza dough again. Though I will probably avoid the rushing it method.

Some things really are better when you wait.

Questions & Comments

Did you use dry yeast?

Yep! Used active dry yeast from a package.

Submitted tips:
  • You often have to extend rising time long than is listed
  • Make sure that the towel you use to cover the dough is damp at all times
  • Sometimes it's good to leave the oven door open

I'm using all these tips next time!

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Send me your thoughts, comments and ideas at theresolvedcook@gmail.com