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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Pizza/Focaccia/Stromboli 101

Measuring Out The Flour: Always fluff the flour out before you measure it and make sure it is lightly scooped into the measuring cup and not packed or else it will not measure out correctly. I do this by fluffing it up with the measuring scoop in the flour bag or canister right before I scoop out each cup full. Then take your finger or a long tubular handle (handle a wooden spoon) and remove the excess flour by scraping it across the measuring cup.

Water Temperature:
I have found that as long as it is not cold or hot the temp is not that important. No need to take the temp of the water, just use luke warm. You know it is luke warm by putting your finger in and it feels like nothing, the temp of your finger has not changed. Again, it is neither hot or cold.


KitchenAid Method : Use the dough hook. Add liquid ingredients and yeast and mix for a few seconds until foamy. Add dry ingredients and mix on low until a ball forms. Knead for a good 7-8 minutes after the ball of dough has formed.
Cuisinart Method: Use the dough blade and low speed. Add the dry ingredients including the yeast and pulse a few times on low. Add the liquid in a slow steady stream and mix until a ball forms. Once the ball forms knead for one minute.
Hand Method: Place the yeast in the liquid (except for the fat or oil) and stir, allow it to foam up. Place the dry ingredients in a bowl and make a well. Add in the liquid and oil/fat and mix together to from a ball. Knead for a good 10-20 minutes. You will know you are finished kneading because the dough will be smooth and elastic.

Rising Dough:
Always place in draft free warm area, a large bowl with plastic wrap on top of the preheating stove or on top the fridge works fine. Oil the bowl or else the dough will get stuck and will not rise as well. Oil the wrap so that the dough doesn't stick to the wrap. You can also freeze it after the first rise by pressing it down, oiling it, and sealing in a plastic baggy. then when you need it simply defrost it in the baggy and continue on as the recipe says.

Dimple Method: My Dad taught me this when I was a little girl. You just start with the ball of dough and flatten it out slightly. Then you using your finger tips you dimple it all over working it out to became larger.

Paddle: When using a paddle there are a few tips that will save you from making a huge mess of your pizza and oven, which I have done on more than one occasion! First dust the paddle well with corn meal making sure to get the edge it will be sliding off of especially. Second it's all in the wrist action. so it may take a few times before you get. I would suggest staring with my Focaccia or White Pizza recipe your first few times because they will hold up much better. Third do not over load the pizza making it too heavy to slip off and Lastly spread it out and add topping JUST before sliding it in giving it less chance to sick.

Stone: This my favorite way to bake a pizza at home! I love the  Large Round By Pampered Chef. I have tried many over the years and this is not only one of the strongest (I have had one stone for 15 years!) it is also lead free. There are mainly only 2 rules of thumb for using a stone. First never use soap and Second heat it up in the oven before using. Mine is usually hot enough by the time the oven is preheated if I place it in right when I turn the oven on.

Pizza Pan Crisper: This is  my second choice. These are the pans with holes in them for a crisper crust like you get with the stone. You must use the middle rack in the oven to avoid burning.You can get them at Target or Walmart.

Cookie Sheet: If you are using a cookie sheet, which is perfectly fine, dust it with corn meal and use the middle rack in the oven. The only downfall is that the cooking will not be quite as even on the top and bottom of the pizza and it may take another minute or two of cooking.

~Happy Baking! ~

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