Sunday, January 31, 2010

Rolling Pin Envy

I will confess that my child has a better rolling pin than I do. His is a diminutive number in smooth red silicon, nicely weighty, and was purchased for rolling out pizza dough. I've been making my own pizza for years, ever since the penniless days of early grad school. When E was about 18 months old I started including him in mixing the dough. Now, at nearly three, he assists in kneading and can even roll out the dough for his own personal pizza. The results of his efforts are never attractive, but he absolutely loves the process. When we make pizza together, I am reminded of some of the things that are really important to me in life - spending time with my child, being mindful of the joy in everyday things, and good food.

Since I usually top this dough with jarred pizza sauce and pre-shredded mozzarella cheese, this is actually a pretty quick and convenient meal, but you can get fancy with it too. I have served it at dinner parties topped with homemade pesto, sundried tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella. (Tip - if you do top it with pesto, substitute some of the flour for cornmeal to help absorb the excess liquid from the pesto.) It is best when baked on a pizza stone, but I have made it on cookie sheets as well. Bottom line, whether you have a child helper or not, want a basic pizza or a gourmet one, this recipe is a great starting point.

Herbed Pizza Dough

2 cups all purpose flour (can substitute one cup with whole wheat if desired)
2 1/4 ounce envelopes rapid rise yeast
1 tablespoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup very hot (but not boiling) water

Mix together all dry ingredients, including yeast. Pour honey and olive oil onto dry ingredients, then pour over the hot water. Mix together to form a soft dough, then turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until it feels smooth and elastic, dusting your hands and the dough with flour whenever they get sticky. Cover the dough with the mixing bowl and leave in a warm place for about 15 minutes to rise. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.

After dough has risen, dust the pizza stone or baking sheet with flour, and roll it out. Top with sauce and cheese, and bake for about 12 to 15 minutes, until crust is golden brown and cheese is just starting to get bubbly. Remove from oven and allow it to rest for about 10 minutes. This helps prevent the cheese from tearing apart when you slice it.

This recipe will feed two adults and one toddler experiencing a growth spurt. Enjoy!

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