Posted July 30, 2009on:
Remember pizza parties in school? We had them a lot growing up. They were usually a reward for some kind of inter-class competition. Or they were a substitute for the cake & ice cream in a birthday party. (Who knew that even as kids we’d have preferences for savory vs. sweet?) Today is pizza day in class and I’m excited! We get to make the pizza party for ourselves!
I have made home made pizzas before. Well, kind of. I’ve used the pizza dough you can buy at the store. (I like Trader Joe’s since they’re fairly cheap at $1.99 per crust and made of pretty good ingredients.) I’ve also made my own dough from scratch. Yup, I put flour, yeast, water and some olive oil together all by myself, pre-culinary/pastry training and my results weren’t bad. They weren’t the results you’d get from a pizzeria, but then again, I wasn’t going for that. I was usually going for something that I could say was not too bready, not too thin, yet still sturdy enough to hold a variety of toppings.
Now, how to best top a pizza is an important topic as it can make or break the pizza. I know most people love the pepperoni or the sausage on their pizzas but I can honestly say I’m not a fan. I think the meat weighs down the light dough and since the toppings are baked onto the pie, the result is too greasy for me. I like to go for vegetarian toppings. I love a nice olive pizza, mushroom pizza or what I like to call my “Greek pizza”.
When I’m at home and just making one or two pies for my family or some friends I usually will make one of their liking, even with meat, and I’ll make a veggie version. I love a good “Greek pizza”. Why do I call it Greek? Because it has all the components of a classic Greek salad! I top my pizza dough with a generous layer of spinach leaves, thinly sliced red onions, chopped tomatoes and feta cheese. I then drizzle some olive oil over it and sprinkle some oregano over the entire pie. I don’t include the cucumbers since I don’t think they would cook up well. I seem to be the biggest fan of this pizza and that’s ok. It’s light, airy and still delicious.
Anyway, we had a great variety of toppings to use in class for both pizza and calzones. We had mozzarella, ricotta, goat’s cheese, mushrooms, olives, anchovies, sausage, prosciutto, bacon, zucchini, spinach, onions and peppers. We also made focaccia bread and bread sticks. I came home with a LOT of pizza, calzones and bread so my freezer is being put to good use!
Unfortunately, we did have a few problems. Since we didn’t have class yesterday because there was no water, our dough remained in the refrigerator slowly fermenting for an extra day. This dough was REALLY hard to work with. It broke really easily and it was difficult to get the appropriate texture. Some of the batches were also stickier than others. And others were puffier. It also tasted very yeasty which is what makes me think it over fermented. I managed to take some shots of my dough while I was letting it rest. I figured that might make things easier, but I think it only made for a good time for a photo.
Despite my holey and difficult dough, my partner & I managed to turn out several good pizzas. This was a carbonara pizza pre-baking.
And fresh out of the oven…
We then made a puttanesca pizza and a pizza margherita.
And of course we had to have some mushroom and meat lover’s pizza. The meat lover’s features sausage and prosciutto.
And the day wouldn’t be complete without sausage & peppers calzones, focaccia and poppy seed breadsticks.
I also made two mini-pizzas, one with sun-dried tomatoes and pesto and another with zucchini and goat cheese. These small pies are currently taking up residence in my frezer. As for the rest of tonight’s creations, I think they would make for a great lunch tomorrow!