Friday, January 20, 2012

Pizza Crust II (ABM)

I have several recipes for pizza crust and while this one holds a spot as a favorite, I recently made the one I'm about to tell you about. I've been lazy the past year (or more) and haven't made homemade pizza. I'm embarrased to admit that I've been buying the pre-made frozen pizzas for Family Pizza Night. Not even the good frozen pizza, but the cheap $2 pizza. *Sigh*

In a moment of desperation, I picked up some pre-made pizza crusts at [gasp] the dollar store to make fun individual pizzas with the kids during vacation. And then I had a real "duh" moment... why not make a batch of pizza crusts to the point of topping them and stock them in the freezer? Some times it's the simple things that escape me. It also gave me a chance to try out this recipe.

I make all of my doughs (pizza crust, bread rolls, etc) in the bread machine. Why? Because I can load and walk away and the machine does the mixing, rising, kneading and second rise without any interference from me. This is a good thing, believe me.

Another thing to note about this recipe, the day I made it I was a cup short of bread flour, so I replaced it with wheat flour and all-purpose flour. (Place 1 Tbsp wheat flour in measuring cup, fill remainder of cup with AP flour.) Good to know if you ever run out of bread flour, but I would still use bread flour when the recipe calls for it.

For a 1-1/2lb machine:
1 cup water
2 tbsp cooking oil [I used half canola oil and half olive oil]
3 cups bread flour
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp active dry yeast [I used 1-1/2 tsp]
cornmeal (optional)

Add the first 5 ingredients to machine according to manufacturer's directions. For my machine, all liquids should be added first and yeast should be added last. Select dough setting.

When cycle is complete, remove dough from machine. At this point, you can freeze the dough to be used later if you choose. In the past I have had limited success with getting pizza dough to rise after it's been frozen, and I wanted to make it more convenient to make a pizza on a week night, I continued on. If you choose to freeze at this point: divide dough in half, wrap in plastic wrap and transfer to a freezer bag. Seal, label, and freeze for up to 3 months. To thaw, let dough stand at room temperature for about 2-1/2 hours or till thawed. Or, thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

I split the dough in half and from each half made 3 thin crusts and 6 thick crusts. If I did this again I would do only 3 thick crusts. (I had the mistaken idea that the crust would rise much more than it did, so my thick crusts are much smaller than the thin. My bad.)

For each thin crust pizza, grease a pizza pan or large baking sheet and pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. If desired, sprinkle with cornmeal. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into the desired size. Transfer to pan or baking sheet and lightly prick top of crust with fork. Do not let dough rise. Reduce oven heat to 425 degrees. Bake for 12 minutes or until lightly brown. At this point, I allowed the crust to cool and put in a freezer bag with the following baking instructions:
     Thaw crust.
     Top with pizza sauce and toppings.
     Bake at 425 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until toppings are bubbly.

For each thick crust pizza, grease a 9x9x2 inch baking pan or large baking sheet and pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. If desired, sprinkle with cornmeal. (for large pizza) With greased fingers, pat the dough into the bottom and halfway up the sides of prepared pan, or for individual pizzas, roll out dough into desired size on a lightly floured surface and transfer to baking sheet. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 30-45 minutes. Lightly prick top of crust with a fork. Reduce oven heat to 375 degrees. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned. At this point, I allowed the crust to cool and put in a freezer bag with the following baking instructions:
      Thaw crust.
      Top with pizza sauce and toppings.
      Bake at 425 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until toppings are bubbly.

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