Any of my regular readers know that I am wheat intolerant. When I eat more than a bite or two of wheat products, I usually will see bloating for the next day or two, a temporary weight gain of 1-2 lb and a subtle but noticeable fogginess in my head the next day. Not too bad but not how I want to feel every day. But I'm not ready to give up wheat totally so I try to limit myself to enjoying wheat one day per week. And if I'm only having it once a week, then I'm gonna make sure it's worth it! My usual wheat indulgences are confined to white bread products, namely fresh French bread with butter, warm bread rolls in a restaurant bread basket or pizza. I actually find I digest white, processed bread better that wholewheat. I'm not saying that processed foods are ok, just that if I do indulge, this is easier for me to digest. I have made homemade pizza many times but a few months ago decided that me and PB would start a weekly pizza night tradition. My quest was to create the perfect home-cooked pizza. I already had a tried and tested recipe for the base but found sometimes pizza came out amazing and other times not and wondered what the other variables were that I was missing. I have now made pizza once a week for about 3 months now and finally feel like I'm getting close to perfection. I previously posted a pizza dough recipe here.
I still use this but usually add garlic powder and dried oregano to the flour as well as salt, about half teaspoon of salt and about one teaspoon each of the herbs and spices. I have found that the dough turns out waaay better if I add more water and then need to add more flour, rather than the other way round (which is contradictory to my original pizza post) so I tend to be more generous when adding the water. Of course kneading is key, at least 10 mins, which is a good arm workout. I suggest timing it and then watching something on TV while you are kneading as the time passes VERY slowly.
Here are the other steps I feel are crucial to a good pizza:
- I double proof the dough for at least 30 mins each time. After the first proof, I re-knead for a minute and then place back in the slightly warmed warmed oven.
- Proof dough in a slightly warmed oven. I usually put the oven on as I gather my ingredients and then turn it off. The residual heat is enough for the proofing.
- Go easy on the pizza sauce! I use store bought but am planning on making my own soon. Too much sauce makes the dough soggy.
- Ensure you have the right cheese blend! I prefer a mix of pizza mozzarella, parmesan and provolone. This gives both texture and flavour. Mozzarella alone doesn't have enough flavour. I buy a store bought pre shredded cheese blend for convenience, if you are going for delivery style pizza. I like Presidents Choice Three Cheese Blend the best. If you want rustic Italian style then you'll want fresh mozzarella slices.
- Don't overdo the toppings, especially vegetables as they will be too watery.
- Sauté any vegetables before putting on pizza. Any toppings you use should be pre cooked.
- Add a layer of cheese on top of the sauce and then add and toppings. Finish with a bit more cheese on top.
- Choose your cooking tray/ pan carefully. I don't have a pizza stone or pizza pan with the holes in it but I have been having lots of success with my two layer cookie sheet. It seems to allow the heat to get to the dough without overdoing it. The two layer sheet has an air space between the layers.
- Ensure the oven is REALLY hot before putting pizza in. I go for 450 f and you must wait for it to reach temp. Place pizza on top shelf for max heat.
- I sprinkle oregano on top of the pizza before baking.
I am still working on perfecting the pizza and am also going to try a gluten free base as well as making my own sauce. I am reluctant to use vegan cheese as it is FULL of additives and processed crap, so I'd rather have a small amount of real cheese (which I can tolerate) and enjoy that.