It’s getting close to dinner, which is a dangerous time to be reading a friend’s food blog. Luckily, the entry that caught my eye was all about pizza. As Maggie has mentioned before, I love pizza. It’s a fast, easy and filling meatless meal. Takeout pizza is too expensive for us and the frozen ones are full of fat. And, of course, both use ingredients that have travelled long distances to get here.
I’ve found that making pizza from scratch can be faster, greener, and even cheaper! I got my recipe out of the Complete Tightwad Gazette, which includes a lot of great ideas of reducing consumption. It requires no fancy ingredients and takes about ten minutes of mixing and topping, ten minutes of rising, and ten minutes of cooking, which puts it on par with ordering delivery.
The first time I made it, the dough was hard to roll (there’s a reason you see people tossing pizza dough!), which made it uneven. That wasn’t a big problem except that the thick parts cooked a lot slower than the thin parts, which made the whole pizza a little doughy.
My next experiment was with adding some whole wheat flour to the mix. It gave a great texture, but also created some pockets of dough that were even more difficult to roll. We ended up with a square pizza (or, as I told Maggie, “gourmet flatbread”). I also made sure to keep all but the edges of the dough thin. Some places were so thin that I accidentally pulled holes in them. Pushing the edges of the hole together fixed that problem but exacerbated the square pizza problem.
Luckily, Maggie is a sucker for “gourmet flatbreads,” so she was happy with it. I was happy that the thin spots thickened during cooking as the dough rose. In the end, even the thinnest spots of pizza were thick enough to be tasty and it wasn’t anywhere near as doughy as my previous experiment. In the future, I’m going to make sure to keep the middle a little thicker so that it can carry the weight of all the toppings I put on.
Another bonus for me is that there are a couple periods of downtime (while the dough rises and while the pizza cooks) that give me just enough time to wash the stuff I got dirty in the previous step. That makes it a snap to clean up after dinner when I’m full and lazy. It takes only a minute for me to pack up the leftovers, if there are any, and toss the plates into the dishwasher.
As a quick dinner, it’s hard to beat!
This version (based on the one in the Tightwad Gazette) uses a food processor, but I’m sure you could make it by hand as well.
1/2 – 3/4 cup warm water
1 T yeast (1 packet, although yeast is a lot cheaper if you buy in bulk)
1 t sugar
2c flour (optionally, replace 3/4 cup with whole wheat flour)
1 T vegetable oil
1/2 t salt
Combine 1/4 cup of water with yeast and sugar. Stir and let stand about 5 minutes. Put flour, oil, and salt into your food processor and process about 5 seconds with the metal blade (if you’re making a larger recipe, you may want to use a bread attachment. Check your user manual to be sure). Add yeast mixture and process for 10 seconds or so. Turn on the processor and drizzle water in until the dough forms into a ball. Then, process the dough until it turns around the processor 25 times. Put the ball onto a 14-inch greased pizza pan (a pizza stone or cookie sheet work equally well). Cover with a bowl and let stand 10 minutes. Pat the dough and spread it out. If you’re adventurous, try tossing it! Remember to make sure that the dough is thicker on the outside. The dough will rise as it bakes, so the rest of the pizza can be pretty thin. Cover with pizza sauce (this article seems to have a good recipe for sauce, but I haven’t tried it yet), cheese, and your choice of toppings. We usually like onions, peppers, and black olives.
Bake at 450 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Be aware that the edges will cook faster than the center!