Friday, October 28, 2011

Readying for Team Pizza Night, the Early Challenges

First of all, for whatever reason, my pizza dough does not turn out exactly the same every time.  --But close enough, and since I only use one batch at a time, for up to 6 pizzas, this is never an insurmountable problem.  A little wetter, a little more whole grain flour content, a little more elastic... I can adapt, and it always works.

However, this time, I had 2 buckets of dough with very different personalities.  The smaller batch was wetter dough, so was a little sticky, but fairly easy to work with.  The other bucket of dough... the double batch, of course, decided to give me a battle.  When divided into balls, placed on the parchment paper, and pushed out into a circle, it would pop back, wrinkling the paper underneath.  I let it rest, which usually makes elastic dough more cooperative, but not this one.  A 10-minute rest will usually do the trick, but after an hour, it was still stubborn.  Making 9 crusts of this dough was a physical workout.

I also decided that I was risking a shortage with the number of crusts I had.   I came to the obvious realization that it was unlikely I could ever have too many crusts, since any extras will be happily devoured by my own family, so I mixed up a couple more batches of dough.  They won't be as flavorful without the days to age, so I mixed in a couple crusts'-worth of the pre-made dough, hoping that would help.  

I discovered 3 more challenges, by this point...              

  •  How long to let the crusts sit before baking?  They usually sit long enough for us to prepare toppings and top them all, but I had no idea what length of time would be best for 'naked crusts.'  So I decided to start this blog post.  That was just about long enough.  :-)  (It's not a perfect science... About 20-30 minutes is OK.  I've had them wait even longer when we're making pizzas the 'regular' way.)

  •  How long to cook them?  I wanted to stop the rise and shorten the baking time later.  I didn't want them to get too brown later, though, either.  I decided on 4 minutes, since at 5 minutes they were starting to brown.  They also bubble up much more when 'naked.'  I decided the bubbles would relax as they cooled, so I didn't worry about it.

  •  Where to cool this many crusts?  The grates on our Wolf rangetop were working well as cooling racks, then I added actual cooling racks on the counters beside for more.  Using the rangetop as cooling area prevented my cooking the meats, so the kitchen table and other perimeter counters needed to be utilized instead.  
 Warding off the bread-stealing-dogs then became a big consideration.  I couldn't get whole pizza crusts back far enough on the counter to where I felt they were safe.  I am thankful for doors on the kitchen... The kids did a pretty good job at remembering to re-close as they went in and out.

Poor doggy left pining through the glass.
The downside: Without the air flow it got a bit warm in the kitchen!

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