My baking goal for 2021 is to finally get over my irrational fear of homemade pie dough. I’m not sure why it is so intimidating but I would often go to great lengths to make pies that had a crumble crust, or open top, or cookie crust. Anything but the standard pie crust that needed everything cold, everything flaky, everything perfect.
It was too much grief. I’d rather make a loaf or bread or a pizza. But 2021 was the year I would beat back my fear and fill in this gaping hole in my baking resume. I’d make at least one pie from scratch each month and hope that through sheer stubbornness or repetition I’d get better by Christmas. That’s the plan anyway.
With just a little effort, the home cook can really up their pizza game. Ten years ago, I moved to the suburbs and immediately realized all the pizza was mediocre at best and if I wanted to once again have pizza anywhere near as good as a place in the city (even a city like Boston with an Ok but not stellar pizza rep) I was going to have to make it myself.
Since then, I’ve tried many different flours, recipes, toppings, and dough. Top it with whatever you want, what will really elevate a pizza is a great dough.
Here’s my list of my favorite pizza types and pizza dough for any occasion.
Plain, all-purpose white flour is a great place to start when making your own pizza dough. It has plenty of protein, strength and flexibility, making it very easy and forgiving to work with when trying to stretch it out. The downside is that all-purpose, white dough tends to lack any flavor as it’s been processed to remove the bran and germ. So if you want to take your dough to the next level and really add a dynamic shot of flavor, try adding some whole grain, which includes all three parts of the grain – bran, germ, and endosperm.
Why did my bread come out so dense? When people start to learn to make bread that is often the most common question. Unfortunately, it is also one of the hardest ones to answer. On one hand, bread baking is so simple. Flour, water, salt, yeast. It really is very easy to bake a loaf of bread at home. What’s hard is to bake a consistently good loaf at home.
Ambitious goal #37 for 2019: trying to crack the code of self-awareness with a nine year old.
Me: Everything we experience in our lives involves us somehow.
Cecilia: Duh. Do I really have to do this math problem?
Me: Yes. Now, just because you experience something, just because something causes you to feel a certain way, just because you care about something, doesn’t mean it’s about you.
Cecilia: [blank look]
Turns out this is a hard concept for kids. Making everything about them is sort of their speciality and, let’s face it feels pretty good most of the time.
When things are good, you are the golden child who deserves to be recognized and applauded at every turn. When things are bad, you are the self-righteous victim, who has been wronged and deserves better.
As much as I love Ken Forkish’s Flour Water Salt Yeast for making bread, I just never latched onto his pizza book in quite the same way. Maybe it was because I bought them so close together. Or maybe the detailed instructions felt like too much for a Friday night dinner (They really aren’t). It didn’t make sense, but either way, the book made its way to the basement shelves and stayed there.
This week, I’m giving it another shot with his 48-72 hour dough. So far, so good. The process is very similar so far to FWSY. The dough came together quickly without all the folding, just a countertop rise, shaping and into the fridge. Why did I think this was complicated?
I used to have this deal with myself: if I wanted something really indulgent, like french fries, cookies or ice cream, I could have it if I made it myself. Having kids torpedoed that rule, just no time to hand cut fries any time the craving strikes, but it has stuck around for pizza.
Ten years after moving here and we still haven’t found a local or convenient place that makes a reliable pie that we like. It’s cheaper, easier and tastier (sometimes healthier) to just make pizza at home.
I make a lot of pizza at home. I’ve gotten pretty good at it. Here are the most common things people ask about or should know if you want to make pizza at home.