Friday, August 20, 2010

Pepperoni Deep-Dish Pizza...

As you know with our weekly Friday Night Pizza's, we tend to stick with our trusty whole-wheat pizza dough - it's non-fussy, easy to roll out and tastes good. With tonight's pizza, we decided to stay close to the recipe for the dough this Pepperoni Deep-Dish Pizza called for.

While there isn't much work to bring the dough together, it does need to be made a day before as it will slowly work its magic in the refrigerator for 24 hours. So, while we didn't get the almost-instant gratification of the dough we usually make, the turtle rise in the fridge works to the dough's advantage by the boost in flavor and texture.

We used instant yeast, which is how I wrote the recipe as it allowed us to skip the step of blooming active dry yeast. However, if you only use active dry, you'll need to prepare the dough a bit differently. Instead of following our directions, mix the flour only with 3/4 cup water and set it aside for the twenty minute rest. Five minutes before the rest is over, mix the yeast with the remaining 1/4 cup water and when bubbly, stir the bloomed yeast, oil and salt into the flour mixture and continue on with the recipe directions.

When you're ready to use the dough the next day, let it come to room temperature before you start to man-handle it. It should take about an hour or so, which just happens to be enough time to prepare a homemade pizza sauce with a special ingredient, San Marzano tomatoes! These tomatoes, a variety of the more common plum/roma version, are usually more expensive (which I realize can be a turn off for some - we paid just over $4 for a 28 ounce can), but they come with a stronger tomato-y flavor and run sweeter with a less acidic bite.

Starting with a warm pool of quality extra-virgin olive oil, several cloves of minced garlic are added and when their fragrant aroma hits your nose, the tomatoes, crushed first, and any juice with them, are stirred in. Salt and dried oregano (rub the leaves in your palm to release its essence) season the sauce and when brought to a boil, the heat is turned down to allow the sauce to simmer at a quiet bubble. Take the time and let this concentrate down until it is no longer water-y looking and measures roughly 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups, which should take just over a half hour or so. You can do this a day or two ahead if you like, too.

Rolled out to a size larger than the baking pan, we tucked the supple dough into the pan, then pressed it slightly up the sides to make for a thick, decidedly chewy outer ridge. After being roughed up, the dough is covered and rests for the final time (I know, I know... lots of steps for just a pizza!) while the oven comes up to temp. With the crust being extra thick and using a pan to contain it, to ensure the bottom of the crust gains enough crispness, stick a baking stone (you could use a baking sheet in lieu of a stone) on to bottom shelf in the oven to heat up as well.

Before spreading the cooled sauce over the dough, a mess of mozzarella went on first (leaving a cheesy layer protected from the fierce oven heat), followed by as much of the sauce as you like, a wealth of pepperoni, salty Parmigiano-Reggiano and a bit more mozzarella, just because. I did find that while baking our topping got a little darker than I would have liked to make sure the dough was baked all the way through - if you find that's the case for you two, you could try tenting it with foil turning the last few minutes (I didn't check early... oops!). It may look iffy to portion out servings, but this slips right out of the pan, making it a breeze to cut into hefty, hunger-pain quenching squares.

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