Kortni’s Kitchen: Pizza for Christmas!

Kortni's Kitchen: Pizza

Kortni’s Kitchen: Pizza

Every year for Christmas, I remember bowls covering our dinner table filled to overflowing with pizza dough. As a family, we would each get to roll out our own pizza and top it as we wished. It has been a family tradition for me, due to my Italian mother. I have always loved homemade pizza no matter the topping, hot or cold, thin crust or thick. Pizza is one of the most diverse types of food out there.

Ingredients: Lauren’s Latest

For the pizza dough:

• 1 cup warm water
• 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
• 1 tablespoon honey or sugar (I used sugar)
• 2 teaspoons salt
• 2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
• 3 cups bread flour {give or take 1/2 cup… depending on the heat & humidity}

For the toppings:

  • Pizza sauce
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Pepperonis

Directions:

1.  In a large mixing bowl, preferably that of a stand mixer, stir yeast and honey into warm water. Sit for 5-10 minutes or until bubbles form and mixture starts to foam. This tells you that the yeast is alive and kicking. Pour in salt, oil and half the flour and mix. Once that flour is incorporated, start adding flour in bit by bit until you get the pizza dough to the consistency you want: slightly tacky, but when touched it doesn’t stick to your hands. Once you reach this stage, knead for 6 minutes. Turn a timer on and walk away! Resist the temptation to stop earlier than 6 minutes! That seems to be the magical number. The dough should be smooth and easy to work with. And the bowl should be clean!

*This is the point when you could freeze your dough. Divide into portions, place into freezer bags, seal, removing all air, and freeze. To use, remove from freezer and let it sit out to get to room temperature and double in size; 6-8 hours. Then use as you’d like.

Lightly grease the bowl & the dough so it doesn’t dry out, then cover with plastic wrap and let it rise 1-2 hours.

  • I always activate my yeast in a measuring cup. I like being able to see how much it bubbles. For this recipe, I used the olive oil you need to coat the bowl in order for the dough not to stick, so I didn’t have to put it into a new bowl.

2. Spread the sauce, cheese and whatever desired toppings you would like, then bake. 450 degrees for 15 minutes on either a pizza tray or cookie sheet with parchment paper so it does not stick.

  • For topping the pizza, most of this is up to your own desire. You choose how much sauce or how little you use. Same with the cheese and what toppings you pick. A few things you should know: When baking, all ingredients tend to go towards the middle, so put more on the edge than the center. Also, most toppings shrink, so make sure you cover the whole thing.
  • At work, we have Thursday Pizza since college students love pizza. We make enough to feed 200 people every week, which means I top a lot of pizzas. A few things I have learned: One – too much cheese and it gets really oily, so make sure you use a light hand. Two – be creative when it comes to toppings, though the classics are nice. This is the best way to try new combinations of food.
  • A few combinations I have tried: mac and cheese; pastrami, pickles, and mustard; prickly pear and spicy sausage; pepperonis, salami, and ham; ham and pineapple; spinach and artichoke; ground sausage and mushroom. For sauces: tomato, pesto, alfredo, olive oil and bbq.

I have eaten my way through most of the continents, and in every one I have had a slice of pizza just how the locals make it. In Italy where it originated, Italians showcase the fresh toppings and simplicity of what pizza is. In Honduras, they enjoy a deep dish with thick crust and small slices. In Peru, it is brought out family-style with a thin crust and great sauce. In Austria, they top with salami and sweet corn. It’s the equivalent to the  American pepperoni. No matter how you decide to create your pizza, remember that it will be delicious. You can never go wrong with pizza.
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