Sunday, September 16, 2012

No knead pizza dough

I read too many food blogs. And every week I end up saving close to a dozen recipes that I want to make. If I'm good I'll make one of them. Usually I make none. (sigh) Then, on August 22 I saw variations of a no-knead pizza dough on two, count them two, different food blogs I read. Two posts on the same day? A sign from the heavens! I must make pizza!!

And pizza I made. TWICE. One of them even had this funny looking thing on top of it. (More on that later.)

There's a fungus among us

So what were my inspiration blogs? The first was this recipe for GRILLED pizza with smoked salmon, goat cheese, and arugula. It looked absolutely delicious. And I've always wanted to try a grilled pizza. And Korena had such great step-by-step photos. The second was this whole wheat no-knead pizza recipe by Joy the Baker.

Clearly I needed to make a no-knead pizza dough.

Now I've made pizza before on the blog (twice actually), and I really liked the pizza dough recipe I used (originally from Cooks Illustrated). But I have to admit, after making this no-knead pizza dough, I think it was better. Less chewy. More tender. SO GOOD!! And it seriously could not have been any easier than it was. 

Instead of using the recipes for the dough I found on the food blogs, I decided to go to the original source: Jim Lahey himself. If you're thinking of making this pizza I'd highly recommend checking out this Serious Eats video with Jim talking about the dough (with a recipe), and demonstrating how to form the pizza.

I clearly need lots more practice, because my pizzas always come out more oblong than circular. Rustic I say, rustic!

Wild mushroom pizza 
(recipe below)

Grilled pizza with mushroom, spinach, and green olives 
(grilling technique below)

To test out this pizza dough I cooked it 2 ways: on a pizza stone in a hot oven and on the grill. This dough is great either way, as it results in a very crispy and tender crust. BUT the winner in my book was the grilled pizza dough. It was extra crisp and delicious. The closest thing to a wood-fire cooked pizza I've ever had. The only downside: the cheese didn't get nice and brown on top how I like. So next time I'm going to:
  1. Grill the pizza
  2. Stick it in the broiler for a minute or two to get the cheese nice and bubbly
Man, I can't wait!!

Yours in constantly learning about pizza, and getting better slowly but surely,

No-knead Pizza Dough, from Jim Lahey
Yields enough dough for 4 pizzas

Notes: This dough was quite wet, both after mixing and after letting it sit. (Although it did become less wet after rising for 9 hours.) I don't know if that's how its supposed to be, but no worries if yours is wet like mine. Just make sure to use plenty of flour on your counter top when you're forming your pizza so it doesn't stick.

If you're lazy and don't want to wait 9 hours for your dough to rise, check out the recipes from Korena's blog and Joy the Baker. Both use a dough recipe that greatly increases the yeast, which decreases the rising time from 9+ hours to 2 hours. I might try the expedited recipes next time, but this one was so good I'm a bit scared to mess with a good thing.

If you want to make this a whole-wheat dough you can do what Joy the Baker did and replace 1 cup of the flour with whole-wheat flour. Whole wheat can be tricky though, so the 1st time I make a recipe I like to make it with white flour only. Then, when I have a sense of what it's supposed to look/feel like, the next time I can replace some of the flour with whole wheat.

500 grams (17 ½ ounces or about 3 ¾ cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping the dough
2 grams (1/2 teaspoon) active dry yeast (original recipe called for 1/4 tsp; I decided to use 1/2 and it worked well)
16 grams (2 teaspoons) fine sea salt
350 grams (1 ½ cups) water

1. In a medium bowl, thoroughly blend the flour, yeast, and salt. Add the water and, with a wooden spoon or your hands, mix thoroughly.

2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and allow it to rise at room temperature (about 72°F) for 9-18 hours or until it has more than doubled. It will take longer in a chilly room and less time in a very warm one. (Mine was great after 9 hours, but I did use 1/2 tsp yeast vs. the 1/4 tsp originally called for in the recipe.)

3. Flour a work surface and scrape out the dough. Divide it into 4 equal parts and shape them: For each portion, start with the right side of the dough and pull it toward the center; then do the same with the left, then the top, then the bottom. (The order doesn’t actually matter; what you want is four folds.) Shape each portion into a round and turn seam side down. Mold the dough into a neat circular mound. The mounds should not be sticky; if they are, dust with more flour.

4. If you don’t intend to use the dough right away, wrap the balls individually in plastic and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze in a freezer bag. If refrigerated, return to room temperature by leaving them out on the counter, covered in a damp cloth, for 2 to 3 hours before needed. If frozen, thaw in the fridge 1 day in advance, then thaw at room temp for a few hours before using.

Read on for either my wild-mushroom pizza or grilled pizza recipes below. 

Wild Mushroom Pizza
Yield: 1 pizza (or 1/4 the dough above)

The recipe for the white sauce came from Jim Lahey's broccoli rabe, garlic, ginger, and Thai chilli pizza. Yum!

Most mushroom recipes call for fontina (as I'd used in the past) but I find it too salty for the main cheese. So I decided to use mozzarella (my favorite) for its meltiness and add saltier cheeses as accent flavors. 

White sauce
1/4 TBSP butter
1/4 TBSP flour
1/4 cup milk
pinch of nutmeg, freshly ground

Sauteed mushrooms
~1 pound mushrooms (I used a combination of portobello, hen of the woods, and shiitake)
1 clove garlic, minced
rosemary, thyme, or any other herb you like to cook your mushrooms in, to taste
butter + olive oil (to cook the mushrooms, maybe 1 - 2 TBSP in total, or more if needed)

Pizza ingredients
1 ball of no-knead pizza dough (1/4 of the recipe above)
1/4 pound fresh mozzarella, torn into pieces
small handful (maybe a few TBSP) of parmesan, romano, and asiago cheese blend (Trader Joe's has this; feel free to use any of these cheeses on their own, or use another salty cheese like fontina)

Note: see below for a recipe on how to grill your pizza instead of using your oven. I definitely like the oven method, but the grilled pizza had a much crisper and "lighter" crust. Try both, see which you prefer!

1. Place pizza stone on a rack and preheat oven to 550 degrees F for at least 30 minutes.

2. Make white sauce. Heat butter and flour in small saucepan over medium-high heat until melted and flour is pale golden blond. Slowly whisk in milk and nutmeg. Season to taste with salt (I didn't add any as I feel the saltiness from the cheese will compensate). Broil to a boil, whisking constantly until thickened, then set aside. (Note: this is scaled down from the original recipe so it is a very small amount of white sauce. If you like more white sauce, feel free to double the recipe.)

3. Prepare the mushrooms. In a medium sized pan on medium heat, melt butter and olive oil. Add the mushrooms and cook until brown and tender. Add garlic and spices, and cook for an additional minute. Set aside.

4. Prepare the pizza dough. Once the oven is preheated, you can start assembling your pizza. On a well floured surface, stretch one ball of dough into a disk about 12" in diameter and slide onto a lightly floured pizza peel (Notehave everything ready and work fast here so your pizza doesn't end up sticking to your pizza peel! Also, I like to add some cornmeal on my pizza peel as well to keep it from sticking). Spread white sauce onto pie, leaving a 1" border all around. Distribute the mushrooms around the pizza, and top with mozzarella and additional cheeses.

5. Transfer pizza to preheated baking stone and bake for 10+ minutes (or bake under a broiler 8" from the heat element for 3 1/2 minutes). If you're cooking it in the oven and want to char the cheese a bit, place under the broiler for another minute or 2 after the pizza is done.

Grilled Pizza, techniques from Korena in the Kitchen
I won't share any actual recipe for this pizza, as you can use whatever you want. Mostly the technique today. Go check out Korena's blog for great step-by-step photos of the process!

(But if you're interested, for the pizza pictured above I used sauteed mushrooms, sauteed spinach, and cut up giant green olives, and a tomato sauce.)

1. Preheat grill to low/medium heat. Get all your toppings ready and set aside.

2. When the grill is about ready, you can start prepping the dough. Using floured surface, stretch one ball of dough into a disk about 12" in diameter. Using your hands, generously oil the top of the dough and place (top side down) onto a greased baking sheet. Generously oil the other side of the dough.

3. When the grill is hot, lightly oil the grates using whatever technique you prefer (an onion dipped in oil and rubbed over the grates, a silicone brush, a paper towel, Pam spray, etc). Have 2 spatulas on hand for when the dough is done. Gently place the pizza onto the grill (I felt it was easiest to use my hands for this), cover, and cook until the bottom is done, ~3 - 5 minutes.

Note: I was an idiot and started to oil my dough before I had enough flour in it to shape it properly. So it never had the right consistency was still really wet and goopy. (Yes, even after all these years of cooking I manage to mess things up.) I was convinced it would be a failure, but there was no turning back. So I grabbed the dough and threw it on the grill. Although the dough was so soft it started to sink in between the grill grates (AHHHH!), after a few minutes on the grill the dough just lifted right off the grates! MAGIC!! So even if you're having some issues, plow through. I can almost guarantee it'll turn out. :)

4. Remove the pizza from the grill and place it GRILL-SIDE UP on your working surface. Layer on all your toppings. Place it back on the grill using the spatulas (it'll be much easier to handle this time around) and cook for an additional 3 - 5 minutes, until the crust is nice and golden brown on the bottom.


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