As much as I talk about the many things I want to try to bake, it’s amazing how often I stick to the same few genres: cookies, brownies, cakes, etc. I suppose I just have an affection for licking butter and sugar off the beaters creaming butter and sugar together.
When I have good people around me, I cook for them. When they mention that they like a certain food, I’ll try to throw it together. If someone makes me happy, I want to return the favor; this is the best way I know how.
It also gets me to try making new things – nothing inspires me like someone staring off into the distance and mumbling hungrily that they could really go for a pizza, or a croissant, or a soft pretzel, or a madeline. Drool is so poetic, I know.
I don’t know that that was the specific turn of events here, but I do know pizza was mentioned. And, since the recipient was a carnivore, this project ended up marking an even bigger departure from the norm for me: I actually cooked with meat! Even though I don’t eat too much of it, I really want to be competent; although I definitely didn’t have to go with sausage on this pizza, I thought it was a good opportunity to give it a shot.
Although I didn’t end up tasting this one, the recipient proclaimed the crust “chewy and perfect,” and he hasn’t keeled over as of now, so I’m fairly certain that I did a decent job on the meat. It smelled like heaven, though, and it’s endlessly adaptable, so give it a shot. Now for rosemary focaccia…
Really Simple Pizza Dough
Bet you can’t guess where this came from (barely adapted)
Makes enough for one small, thin crust pizza. Double it if you like your pizza thick and bready.
1 1/2 cups flour (can replace up to half of this with whole wheat flour)
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water (may need up to 1 or 2 tablespoons more)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Toppings (I used thinly sliced yellow and orange bell peppers, Italian sausage, mozzarella, and Parmesan)
Stir dry ingredients, including yeast, in a large bowl. Add water and olive oil, stirring mixture into as close to a ball as you can. Dump all clumps and floury bits onto a lightly floured surface and knead everything into a homogeneous ball.
Knead it for just a minute or two. Lightly oil the bowl where you had mixed it, dump the dough in, turn it over so all sides are coated, cover it in plastic wrap and leave it undisturbed in a warm-ish (slightly above room temp) for an hour or two, until it has doubled in size.
Dump it back on the floured counter and gently press the air out of the dough with the palm of your hands. Fold the piece into an approximate ball shape, and let it sit under that plastic wrap for 20 more minutes.
Sprinkle a pizza stone or baking sheet with cornmeal and preheat your oven to its top temperature. Roll out the dough and sprinkle on toppings. Bake for about 10 minutes until lightly blistered.