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Cooking 360 Part 3

Topic: Pizza

Pizza is food almost everyone loves. I've never met someone who didn't like pizza. There are so many kinds of pizza, but everyone has a favorite. There is Chicago style, Sicilian style, New York style, Neapolitan style, and hand-tossed style.

The perfect bite of pizza has a crispy and chewy crust, with the tangy, sweet, but slightly salty sauce, with beautifully melted, stringy cheese with whatever toppings you like.

Pizza is one of those things people love, and never really stop wanting. Every city or town has a known pizza place, or some have a fast food pizza place. Where I live we just recently got a restaurant that makes amazing pizza. Seriously, before this restaurant, I wanted a place that wasn't something basic. We didn't have that, and my family wanted pizza. So I decided to make homemade pizza. It is actually so fun, and kinda easy. 

Being able to have fun with the toppings, and mix and match with the toppings, and sauce. It is a fun thing, I think, for kids to do. They can play with the toppings, and make designs on the pizza, plus they can eat it. 

Time for a crust recipe:

Crust (note: this makes only one large pizza).

  • 1 pack of active dry yeast 
  • 1 cup of warm water 
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar 
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil 
  • 2 cups of flour (keep extra on hand for rolling, and in case of a sticky dough)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the sugar and yeast together, and add the warm water, and stir. The yeast and sugar do not need to be completely dissolved. Let sit for 10-15 minutes, or until foamy and frothy. (If the yeast is not foamy or create a foam dome in 15 minutes, then you need to redo it.) When the yeast mixture is frothy, and is foamy, add the salt and olive oil, gently mixing. Add the flour and mix (if the dough is sticky add a bit more flour, a little at a time).

Form a ball with the dough. Once the dough is formed into a ball, transfer it onto a lightly oiled bowl. Put the bowl in a warm spot (on top of a preheated oven is a great idea). Let the dough double in size about one to two hours.

When the dough is doubled, turn it onto a lightly flour cutting board or really well-cleaned countertop. Lightly flour the rolling pin, and top of the dough, and roll it in the shape and thickness you want (don't roll it super thin, because toppings will weigh it down, and it becomes hard to cook evenly).

Add your favorite sauce, cheese/cheeses, and toppings.

Cooking Time

I prefer using a pizza stone, but they are difficult to keep from breaking in a super hot oven. I actually use cookie sheets, and not a stone. I used to use a pizza stone, but my sister accidentally broke it, and they are a bit expensive.

To cook the pizza, have an oven preheated at 375 degrees, and have a greased pan. Put the dough onto the pan, and use your fingertips to push the dough into all parts of the pan. Add a layer of sauce, however much you like, same with cheese, and toppings. Put the pizza in the oven, and let it cook. Once edges are golden brown, and cheese is bubbly and melty—the crust should be fluffy and spongy—it's done. Take it out, and let it cool for a few minutes, then cut it however you like.

If using a pizza stone, grab the dough ball, and use your fingertips to stretch the dough (shape whatever way you want). Grab a cutting board with a handle, and put a good amount of yellow cornmeal on it, and put the dough directly on the board. Put on the sauce, cheese, and the toppings. Don't put a ton of sauce, cheese, and toppings on, or it will be impossible to slide off the board. Slide pizza onto preheated pizza stone, and bake. Don't touch the stone while it is in the oven. The crust should be puffy, and the cheese should be bubbly and melty. Be sure to cool the pizza stone before washing it.

Enjoy! Until next time!

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