The Pizza Story (4) – The Trials and Tribulations of Making Pizza!

If you are just joining this story and interested in reading my previous ramblings, check here 🙂

After wrestling with my food processor and struggling with an incredibly sticky dough, it was finally time to try to make pizza. After an overnight rest, I pulled out my dough balls from the fridge when the munchkin ate dinner at about 5:30. After her 6:30 bedtime I got to work stretching out the first pizza while the stone preheated in the oven. The stickiness was a factor yet again, but after a little work I was able to create a sort-of round base for my pizza. The recipe recommended using the back of a sheet pan in the absence of a pizza peel (definitely no room for that in my apartment!), but I only had one with low sides, and I think that was not an appriate substitution. I also didn’t use nearly enough corn meal so when it was time to get my pizza on the stone it stuck, which meant the pizza became totally lopsided and the cheese slid off onto the pizza stone while cooking. This led to a complete mess to clean up – notice the cheese boiling on the pizza stone at the top left:

Ugh.  The second pizza I made that night didn’t stick quite as badly, but still wasn’t a particularly exciting outcome. 
I had frozen 4 of the 6 dough balls I made, so when it came time to pull 2 from the freezer, things went a little more smoothly.  I got better at managing the stickiness and developed my skills at stretching the dough, and came out with some pretty decent pies!  Here’s one from week 2 – hubby requested his half with olives:

It looks like pizza!  And tasted like pizza!  And didn’t make a mess of my pizza stone! 
I thought I was quickly getting the hang of things until it was time to try making dough again.  I was very excited to find that the second time around I didn’t have nearly the same issues with the dough sticking to everything, but unfortunately that translated into it not tasting very good, either.  Instead of being springy and sticky, it tore very easily and tasted very bready when cooked, instead of the chewy/crunchy combination you’d expect from pizza.  The dough kept climbing up the center shaft while it was mixing, so I’m wondering if I didn’t get a good enough knead?  Made me think that maybe the dough shouldn’t have been quite so sticky the first time around, though.
One more try in the food processor, and this time not only was the machine bouncing all over the counter, but dough got into the center shaft, slowed down my motor, and caused a burning smell because it was working so hard.  Very scary!  The dough that time came out tasty again, but I started to think pizza making should be put on hold until I had access to a stand mixer. 
That opportunity came as soon as I moved in with my parents this summer.  I pulled out my mom’s mixer so I could make pizza for everyone and was very disappointed to see the heavy mixer bouncing all over the counter, too – I felt like I couldn’t let go of it for a second!  I tried one more time with my newer mixer when we got to the new house.  This was a little less scary; I think my mixer might be a little more sturdy, and the resulting dough was really good.  Plus, I also had a chance to try out a new cooking method – we made pizzas on the grill, which were delicious!
But with the new house I also got a bread machine, which people have been telling me for months would be great for making dough – I had to check it out!  This has turned out to be the best option yet.  I will be telling you more about my love for my bread machine in other posts, but for now let’s just say that 10 minutes in the bread machine has yielded delicious dough with no kitchen appliances bouncing around my counters, and the easiest clean-up – a few measuring cups/spoons and the non-stick loaf pan and beaters.  I am totally sold on this approach, but will post the stand mixer option as well for those of you who I don’t manage to convince to invest in a bread machine 🙂  Detailed pizza recipes will hopefully be on their way soon, including how to make dough in the stand mixer or bread machine, and how to cook pizza using a pizza stone in the oven or directly on the grill.

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