Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Making pizza at home

First, accept it is difficult. That will make your life easy when things go wrong.
Second, read this http://www.varasanos.com/PizzaRecipe.htm. Multiple times.

Lets start with some motivation.

Day 0: Sarson Ka Saag over Maize Pizza

Day 1: Simple toppings

Day 2: Egg Cheese and other stuff

Problem number one is the yeast activation. I had never dealt with it and without thermometer it was hard to find if the water is hot enough or not. Well they say the temperature should be 115 degrees Fahrenheit.  Our body temperature is about 99 degrees. If it feels warm, it is close enough. Put yeast in water along with some sugar and/or some flour. Leave it for about 10-15 minutes. If you see some bubble in the liquid, you are all set.

Problem number two is making the dough. Actually you don't need to make the dough. It is more like the mixture for making "pakodaas" just a little less wet. I don't think even the dough matters much because my latest pizza was maida(60%)+maize flour(40%), with "sarson ka saag" topping. Anyways, have some maida (at least 50%) because it sticks together and gives "enclosure" for yeast to work. Maize flour hardly sticks together and I wasn't really hoping things to turn out well.  It makes me think, may be maida is probably not a good choice for home made pizza. Regular wheat flour and even may be with a bit of dalia or sooji would probably give better results. Anyway, first add the yeast mixture and keep rotating it with a spoon or spatula. Add water if you find it difficult to mix and rotate, but don't make it a liquid paste. What we are looking for is something in-between. It should be possible to rotate spatula, but with effort. This shouldn't take more that 4-5 minutes. Leave it for may be 30 minutes. If it rises, that is good, if it doesn't, doesn't matters. Cut the dough if you want to call it, it will actually be some sticky stuff. You should be able to almost pour it from one bowl to another, except it will take couple of minutes at the speed it pours. It shouldn't have shape of its own as chappati dough has, it will easily spread. I kept these pieces in cling-film. Put them in refrigerator for may be 24 hours or more and then they would be ready to use.

As I described in details in the previous paragraph, the dough is very hard to handle because it is so soft. We don't need any rolling pin. Put lots of flour on the baking tray and then transfer this mass from the cling-film to the tray. Change sides to make sure it is completely covered with flour, so that it doesn't sticks your hands. Now is the time to spread it. Don't try too hard, you will tear it. What you are looking for is may be at max 3-4 mm thick layer, uneven of-course.

While we are doing all this, make sure microwave(oven) is using convection at 250 degree Celsius. That is 482 degree Fahrenheit.   My microwave doesn't go beyond 250, if yours does, please set it at maximum. At this point, all we need to do it put the pizza into the microwave and relax for 7-8 minutes.    At this point take the pizza out and switch sides and cook for another 5 minutes. The optional step here is to lightly spray olive oil/butter on both sides of the pizza. This will keep the crust soft. What you have at this point is a nice cooked pizza base. Get it out, put the toppings and cheese and put it back. No side change this time. The quicker you put the toppings, the best it is for pizza. Cook it for another 6-8 minutes and you will hopefully have a nice pizza. This extra cooking also helps in getting a nice crust below which makes it easy to hold pizza slices.

UPDATE:  May be you should ignore the cooking time information I gave. It will vary with quantity of dough. Instead, one can decide the side changing time depending upon when the pizza starts to rise. Once it starts rising, give it may be couple of minutes to cook and then change side. The important thing here is if the lower side has become crisp or not. If it is too crisp, just add the toppings right away but if not, you could cook it for another few minutes after changing side.

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