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Pesto pizza, chez Simon

  • 12th Sep, 2006 at 4:48 PM


Basil
Originally uploaded by sfllaw.

Recently, at parties, I've discovered that I'm one of the least geeky people there. Which is bizarre, because I've basically been geeky all of my life. To address that issue, I had a very nice weekend full of random dorkiness.

On Saturday, I went with angorian and Damian to marché Jean-Talon where we picked up a few things. Like pine nuts, parmesan, and a crate-full of basil. Due to a more innovative washing strategy, we finished making six litres of pesto in six hours. I brought my half back home and am slowly freezing it into ice cubes.

Actually, I still have some pesto left over from last year. Whoops! Better have some people over for dinner, I suppose.

Then on Sunday, I invited a group of friends over to play geeky games. angorian showed up with Damian, and was quickly followed by wlach, cloquewerk, and _watchtower_. We pulled out Munchkin and Chez Geek. I can hear you muttering "comfy" right now, elliptic_curve, and I don't care.

There was a break for dinner, where I pulled out some salsa, tabbouleh, and pizza. I made the pizza dough in advance, so I kept on leaving to check on it, but it seems to have been worth it. Especially after the pizza stone cracked in the oven. Ah well, I've always wanted a thicker one anyway.

You can always order out for pizza, but that doesn't seem to turn out as nicely as I like. By the time it gets to your door, it's been steamed in the cardboard box for a while, so the crust begins to taste like wood. And everything turns a tad soggy. And the toppings aren't exactly what you want. So you might as well make pizza at home. Now, you can buy frozen pizza dough, which is really quite good, but try making pizza from scratch. It's easier than you might think.


Pesto pizza

Ingredients

  • 10mL active dry yeast
  • 300mL warm water
  • 400g Canadian all-purpose white flour
  • 15mL salt
  • 15mL sugar
  • 30mL olive oil
  • 15mL basil pesto
  • Various toppings

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, mix the yeast and warm water together. Let it sit for about five minutes, until the yeast is dissolved and the mixture is cloudy. It will start to smell a bit like bread or beer, which is exactly what you want. Don't add the yeast to hot water or you'll kill the little critters.
  2. In a large bowl, mix your flour, salt, and sugar with a balloon whisk.
  3. Make a deep hole in the centre of your dry ingredients and add the oil, pesto, and yeast mixture. Combine the wet ingredients with a fork and slowly incorporate the flour from the edges.
  4. You'll eventually end up a moist ball of dough which should pull itself together. If it's too dry to do that, add a few splashes of warm water. If it's too wet, dust it with some more flour. Eventually, you'll have something moist that you can knead.
  5. Scatter some flour evenly on your counter and scrape the dough on to it. Then knead and work the dough until it dries out a bit and becomes smooth and elastic. Don't be afraid of it, you can really get all your aggression out this way.
  6. Once the dough is springy, take your large bowl and coat the bottom and sides with olive oil. Transfer your dough to that bowl and roll it around a bit so that it's covered lightly in oil.
  7. Cover the bowl with cellophane and leave it in a warm place for it to rise. I typically leave it resting close to the pilot light on my stove. It takes about an hour or two for it to double in volume, so waste some time surfing the Internet.
  8. Once it gets big enough, punch the dough down. Cut it in half using a plastic dough scrapper, but you can use a knife if you don't have one. Roll each half into a ball and loosely cover each with cellophane to rise again. This should take about fifteen minutes.
  9. You should preheat your oven at about this time. Set it to the highest temperature it will go, as pizza is best when it's baked quickly. If you have a pizza stone, leave it in the oven so it will heat as the oven heats. Putting a cold stone in the oven will guarantee that it explodes from thermal stress. If you don't have a pizza stone, you can use baking sheets.
  10. On a floured work surface, stretch one of the dough balls until it's rather thin. But not so thin that it breaks. I find that using a rolling pin helps, but you can also do this by spinning it in the air. After you've got the crust in an approximately pizza shape, we're ready to top it.
  11. Get a cutting board that will fit the dough. Rip a piece of parchment paper and put it on top. Then put your dough on top of that. Add a small amount of pizza sauce and your favourite toppings. I like using huge blobs of low-fat mozzarella, because it melts gorgeously and also provides good structural integrity.
  12. Slide the whole pizza with the parchment on to your pizza stone. Bake for about fifteen minutes, pulling the parchment paper out from underneath in the last five or so. This should give you a gloriously crispy crust. Bring the pie to the table, cut into wedges, and dig in.
  13. Now bake the second pizza, because people will be clamouring for seconds. Optionally, you can freeze that second dough ball, and pull it out for an easy dinner later in the week.

Serves 6.


Comments

(Anonymous)
31st Aug, 2008 12:14 (UTC)
i think...
I do not believe this
sfllaw
31st Aug, 2008 14:02 (UTC)
Re: i think...
I’m puzzled. What’s unbelievable here?