an espresso lover's blog

Thursday, May 01, 2003

I had a terrible, terrible nightmare last night. Got to be the worst ever. I won't get into details, but it wasn't pretty. To cheer me up I made some italian style pizza for lunch. I'm really into pizza baking. It is easy, cheap, fast and very rewarding tastewise. My friends love my pizzas too and that makes it especially fun.

What really works for me is to make the pizza crust beforehand and have it always available half-baked in the freezer. I then just take one out, let it thaw for 10-15 minutes while the oven heats up. It works great, best fastfood ever.

My pizza crust recipe
(makes 4)
9 dl / 30 fl oz white all-purpose flour
3,5 dl / 10-11 fl oz somewhat hot water (40 celsius / 104 F)
1 package of dry yeast (equals 50 grams fresh)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspon sugar
3 table spoons olive oil

Mix together, knead until smooth and elastic. Sprinkle some flour on top and cover with plastic film or kitchen towel and let it rise for 30 minutes or until doubled in size. Sprinkle some flour on the working surface and knead dough for a few moments, split into 4 pieces. Get a rolling pin ("kjevle" in norwegian) and make the first crust which should be something like 30-35 cm in width, pretty thin. It is easier if you sprinkle flour on both the rolling pin and the surface you are working on.

Preheat oven, go as high as possible. Mine maxes out at 260 degrees celsius / 500 F. Get a baking pan and rub it with butter, oil or the like. Put the crust in the baking pan, even it out with your hands if it curls up while you move it. Bake in oven for 4-5 minutes. Start flattening out the next crust with the rolling pin while the first one is in the oven. Take out the first crust, put number two in. Repeat process until you have four pizza crusts. Let them cool and then put them in the freezer, or even better - make a pizza right away with one of them :)

This is what you are aiming for

This one I forgot to take out of the oven because I found something interesting on the net (surely coffee related, you know me). This is what happens when it is exposed to very high temp, it blows up like a balloon and becomes interesting flat bread. Nice, but not suitable for pizza. :)

Sauce, topping and cheese
The quickest sauce is plain boxed, crushed tomatoes. Just add to crust and spread out evenly. Then sprinkle some olive oil over it, grind some black pepper and add some salt as well. Now add the ingredients you fancy. A nice combo is good quality ham (parma ham rules!), mushrooms and fresh basil leaves. The ham totally transforms when being cooked at such a high temperature. Delicious. Other possible toppings : olives, chicken, beef, garlic, onions etc. etc., I guess you have your favourites :). What may come as a surprise is that the simplest of all pizzas, consisting of only crust, sauce, basil and cheese is very good on its own.

If you have the time you can cook a large amount of pizza sauce and keep it stored in a glass container (be sure to sterilize it first) or freeze it. A well known TV-chef here in Norway, Lars Barmen, has a nice recipe.

Barmen's sauce
2 boxes of crushed tomatoes (2 x 400 grams)
3 chopped onions (preferrably sjalottl√łk, don't know the english name)
3 chopped pieces of garlic
2 table spoons olive oil
2 table spoons fresh oregano (I've used basil also)
Salt and pepper

Add some olive oil in a pan, quickly fry the garlic and onions. Add tomatoes and the other ingredients. Cook until about half of the volume remains and you have a creamy, thick sauce. Put on pizza, jar or freeze for a rainy day.

Mozzarella rules, especially the fresh kind, but most types work. Experiment and find out what you like the best.

Oven time
I usually have my pizzas in the oven for 5-8 minutes at 260 degrees celsius / 500 F, but you have to adjust to your preferences and the type of oven you have.

5/01/2003 02:19:00 PM  

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