Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Best Pizza in DC = Your Kitchen

Yes, DC has a lot of seriously good pizza parlors. And now there's even an outpost for buying fancy pies you can bake at home. But who needs all that when you can make your very own kitchen the best spot in town for a slice? While making your own pizza may sound like way too much work for a weeknight, trust me, with a little advance planning and some fun kitchen gadgets, you - yes, you! - can be turning out beautiful, crispy/chewy/bubbly vessels of Italian goodness. Talk about an ego trip. Here's all you need:

A Pizza Stone - Truly, the only way to get that deliciously crispy bottom crust.

A Pizza Peel - The only safe way to get your pizza onto said stone.

The Toppings - Right now I'm particularly fond of spicy sausage, olives, kale and mozzarella (pictured), but, of course, whatever your heart desires.

The Dough - As any pizza conouisseur worth her crust knows, when it comes to good pies, it's all about the dough. Nowadays, nearly every grocery store in the land offers ready-made pizza dough, and that's all well and good. However, if you've got a sturdy mixer, I urge you to make your own. The store-bought stuff really just can't compare, and the recipe below could give 2 Amy's a run for its pie-making money. This dough also freezes well, so one night of work equals multiple nights of pizza enjoyment.

Pizza Dough
Recipe from Baking with Julia

The Sponge
1 1/2 tsps active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups tepid water (about 80 degrees)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour

Place yeast in a medium bowl (you can use the bowl from your mixer) and add the water, stirring to dissolve the yeast. Allow the yeast to rest for about 5 minutes, until it turns creamy. Stir the oil into the mixture and then gradually stir in the flour, mixing until well incorporated.

First Rise: Scrape down the sides of the bowl, cover, and let the sponge rest in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours, or until the sponge is very bubbly and has risen to about double its volume.

The Dough
The sponge (above)
2 to 2 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 to 3 tsps salt, depending on your taste

If you didn't make the sponge in the mixer bowl, transfer it to that bowl now. User a rubber spatula to deflate the sponge, which will be sticky and loose, and fit the mixer with the dough hook. Add 2 cups of the flour and the salt to the sponge and mix on low speed for 2 to 3 minutes. Increase the mixer speed to medium and, if the dough isn't coming together nicely, sprinkle with a little more flour by spoonfuls. Continue to knead on medium speed for another 4 to 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Second Rise: Place the dough in a lightly oiled large bowl, turn the ball over so that its entire surface is coated with the oil, cover, and allow to rest in a warm place for another 1 1/2 hours, until is has doubled in bulk.

To Make the Pizza
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven, and fit the rack with a baking stone. Preheat the oven to 475. Rub a baker's peel with cornmeal and set aside.

Shaping the Dough: Turn the dough ont onto a lightly flour work surface and divide into two pieces. Keep one piece covered as you work with the other. (If you do not want to make both pizzas now, wrap one piece of dough tightly in plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator for a day or two or freeze for up to a month. Thaw frozen dough in the refrigerator overnight and bring chilled dough to room temperature before shaping). Shape the dough into a ball and then flatten it into a disk. Turn and streth the dough, or roll out with a rolling pin until the dough is about 1/4 inch thick. Transfer to peel.

Topping and Baking: Top with the ingredients of your choice, leaving a 1-inch border around the rim, and slide the pizza into the oven. Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until the topping is bubbling and the uncovered rim is puffed and golden.

1 comment:

pizzazion said...

Really good pizza. Nice place to go with friends. One of the best pizza shops in DC. Must visit.

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