As some of you may have heard, there was a shooting on campus here at the University of Texas, where I am currently a graduate student. Thankfully, I am safe and was off campus. In fact, Tuesdays I don’t have class and I was headed to the gym. While waiting at my bus stop and silently complaining about the fact that my bus was 20 minutes late, I got a call from my gym buddy that there had been a shooting and that bus service was frozen. I was supposed to be there already, but I hit snooze a few too many times. Good thing I was lazy, right?! I would have been very, very close to where all the action was.
In fact, all the action was in front of my academic building, just a few feet across the street from the library where everything went down. All the pictures of tanks in front of my office building were unnerving…
Being from Virginia, shootings hit a little close to home since half of my high school attended Virginia Tech and the news anchors were constantly bringing up that incident today. That, the fact that life in general stresses me out sometimes, and the resulting lack of productivity brought me to calm my nerves the best way I know how: cooking.
I had made some homemade pizza dough the other night and it was about time to take it out of the freezer!
The other night I made my own recipe for pizza dough and it was quite successful. I used a combination of Internet research and the recipe I’ve made with my Aunt Josette (the chef) to create mine. What makes mine different is the use of brown sugar instead of plain white sugar. This really brings out the kind of salty sweet taste I love, very subtly, and since I use my homemade pasta sauce that is sans sugar, it is just the amount of sweetness needed from pizza.
Meredith’s Pizza Dough (makes 1 large crust or 2 medium)
1 cup warm water
1 packet yeast
2 T brown sugar
2 T sea salt
3 cups + extra for dusting/kneading all purpose flour
In a mixing bowl, combine warm water, brown sugar, and yeast. Make sure to add the sugar here because it feeds the yeast and helps it bloom! After 5-10 minutes, the yeast should be bubbly and foamy and fully prepped. Add the salt and flour and mix thoroughly. Dust a bread board or the counter with flour and knead the dough thoroughly. In the mixing bowl from earlier, pour in some olive oil and put the dough back in the bowl, rolling it around so it is fully coated with the olive oil. Cover it with a dry towel and let it rise. It should take about an hour to rise and the tell-tale sign of perfectly risen dough is sticking 2 fingers in the middle, about a 1/2 inch deep — if the indentations stay, the dough is ready! Roll it out again on a floured board or divide into 2 balls and freeze. The dough will stay good up for about 2-3 weeks in the freezer. If you choose to use a ball of frozen dough, spray a bowl with olive oil spray and let the dough thaw (2-3 hours) in the bowl before prepping your pizza! I recommend putting your baking sheet or pizza stone in the oven to get hot while the oven preheats and then you should drizzle the sheet with a bit of olive oil. Roll out your dough as much as you can, transfer it to the baking sheet, press it out a little more to form the crust, and quickly top with whatever toppings you like. Having the sheet/stone hot before helps the bottom crisp up and cook more evenly! I also drizzle or spray olive oil on the cheese before putting it in the oven because it helps it crisp up and be bubbly and brown Bake 12-15 minutes at 500* and enjoy!
The best thing about homemade pizza? You control how healthy it is! I use lots of veggies and put the cheese on top in a very thin layer so you get just enough, but not too much! This crust was perfect and crispy, but still soft and delicious! Mmmm!