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Recipe Rookie: Pizza

There was a pizza disaster in my kitchen a few months ago. I tried to make a simple pizza topped with zucchini and tomato, but something went horribly wrong. The combination of bad dough and the moisture of the toppings led to a blob of undercooked, misshapen crust and vegetables that not even our agile hamster would want to nibble on. Ramsey and I ordered take-out instead.

My pizza stone and peel went unused until last week when I finally worked up the courage to try again, inspired by my abundance of homegrown basil. I was also armed with a different dough recipe and the determination to keep trying until I got it right. Luckily, I got it (mostly) right on my first attempt.

I started with a dough recipe from 101 Cookbooks deemed the “Best Pizza Dough Ever,” so I was feeling confident. The recipe had to be modified slightly because no stores near me carry instant yeast, so I just added a touch more of active yeast. I think this led to a denser pizza dough in the end, but it still tasted good.

This recipe also calls for a pizza peel and stone, however if you don’t have either, you can easily substitute the back of a thick baking sheet.

I mixed all of the ingredients together by hand, turned the dough onto my cutting board, and began to cut it into the six pieces.

Once shaped into balls, Heidi noted that they can be kept in the fridge for up to three days, or frozen for up to three months. This meant I had two nights of dinner for the week taken care of and a dinner half-prepared when I felt like having a lazy evening. Here are four of the dough balls on lightly oiled parchment paper, waiting for a sheet of plastic wrap before heading into the fridge. Make sure to cover them well or else the dough will harden where it’s exposed to too much air.

The other two are coated with olive oil, ready to go into the freezer and await a future pizza night.

After letting the dough rest in the fridge overnight, I pulled it out two hours before baking time, flattened it slightly, oiled, and covered.

After making the sauce from my meatball recipe and heating the oven and stone for 45 minutes, it was time for the hard part: stretching the dough to the desired pizza shape and thickness. I was somewhat successful, but hopefully my technique will improve with time.

Eight minutes in the oven and the pizza was done. I need to add a bit more cheese in the future and track down some instant yeast, but overall it was a successful pizza night.

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