Friday, February 29, 2008

My Big Fat Greek Pizza

If Wolfgang Puck ran for president, I would vote for him. I mourned the recent death of the California Pizza Kitchen founder. That is just how much I love the thin crust "gourmet" pizzas. When eating out, I love pizza margherita, tomato and basil with fresh mozzarella. I have a deep and profound love for kalamata olives, feta and spinach, so that's usually the pizza I make at home.

Let's get started. I like the full flavor of a whole wheat crust, but I'm not a fan of the texture. I tried to strike a compromise by using King Authur's White Whole Wheat Flour in Wolfgang Puck's classic recipe for pizza dough. The results were pretty good.

First, proof the yeast and then dump all the ingredients into the food processor.
Process until the mixture forms a ball ... or something close to a ball. OK, at the point it all clumps together, you're good.

Knead the dough a for a few minutes by hand until it's smooth and firm. Place it into an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise until it has doubled in size, about two hours. Divide the dough into four balls. (I always use a scale for this part.)

Shape each ball by pulling down on the sides of the dough and tucking them underneath the rest of the dough. You'll can feel when you need to stop this process because the dough will start to fight back and become harder to pull. Next, roll the ball on your board until the top is smooth. Place the balls back into the oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let them rise for an hour.

Here comes the fun part! Grab a ball and start flattening! I have tried to toss the dough in the air to stretch it. This has resulted in dough finding a final resting place in the garbage can. I must admit that I have to take the training wheels approach and use a rolling pin. I bare the scars of this shame every day. I roll the dough on my board and then transfer it to a peel. I don't care about the shape. Throw a little cornmeal on the peel before you add the dough.

Top with your favorites. This version has spinach, kalamata olives, feta, capers, sun-dried tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. I also added sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, dried oregano and fresh basil. As you add your toppings, periodically lift the dough or jiggle it to make sure it isn't sticking to the peel.

Transfer the pizza from the peel to a screaming hot pizza stone for the signature crispy crust. I can't show you my stone because it is an embarrassment. I have dropped and burned so much stuff on it, it has changed colors twice.

A note about pizza stones: buy the largest one that will fit in your oven and just leave it in there all the time. It helps regulate the temperature and provides great baking results. You can place it on the floor of the oven if you have a gas oven and on the lowest rack if you're lucky enough to have an electric oven.

We'll skip to a shot of the finished product now.

Tools of the trade:

1 comment:

Jessy and her dog Winnie said...

That pizza looks great! Very colorful pictures!