Saturday, October 3, 2009

Pizza + Snickerdoodles

This morning while listening to "Yummy Yummy Yummy I've got love in my tummy" on repeat, I decided it was time to make Snickerdoodles again. The weather is finally turning cool, it's a little overcast, and it's the perfect day for something warm and cinnamony.

Of course, i turned to my favorite cooking-blog - SmittenKitchen for a recipe, and instead of simply starting my snickerdoodles, I started looking at the other recipes, and found one for pizza that I just couldn't pass up.

This Snickerdoodle recipe makes three dozen 3 to 4-inch cookies.
Ingredients are as follows:
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 stick or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon, plus more if needed
2 large eggs

Start by mixing together the dry ingredients (flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt). In a separate bowl (preferably in an electric mixer fitted with a paddle blade) mix together the butter and 1 1/2 cups of the sugar till light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl, add in the eggs one at a time, then stir in dry ingredients. After it's all mixed together cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

When the dough is ready preheat the oven to 400 and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Mix together the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon. Scoop the dough out with a ice-cream scoop or cookie scoop of some sort (this helps with creating cookies of a uniform size that will cook evenly). Roll the cookies in the sugar and cinnamon mixture and place on cookie sheet leaving plenty of room between them to expand. I flattened mine with the palm of my hand so they wouldn't come out too puffy.

The rest of my day basically ended up being a sort of catastrophe, but still - it all came together in the end. After I decided I needed to make the pizza for dinner I called a couple girlfriends and planned a dinner-date. Unfortunately, once I got to the store to buy my pizza-makings, I discovered that Justin had taken my ID to the deer-lease with him for the weekend. And, given that the recipe calls for white wine, it wasn't really a good start to my cooking. After I got home I realized that the pizza probably wouldn't be enough for three people by itself, so i went back to the store, in the rain, for a second time. By the time I got home one of my friends had called and said her car wasn't working, so I drove out to pick her up. All in all, the cooking didn't get started till around 6:45 after everyone had arrived at my apartment.

The spinach artichoke dip is delicious and amazingly easy to make, but my camera has been malfunctioning and I didn't get any pictures of it at all. So, i'll post that one another time - and believe me, I will make it again!

But wow. This pizza is incredible. I won't lie - i'm a completely pizza connoisseur. I'm very picky about how I want my pizza, and I won't settle for just anything. Before this pizza, I actually thought that I didn't like homemade pizza! I was wrong.

(we put extra red pepper flakes on half, in case you can't tell)

This pizza serves 1-3 people, depending on what you serve with it. I stretched it for 3 people but we had already eaten quite a bit of spinach artichoke dip as well as a salad.

It may seem like a lot of work to make your own dough, but in this case, it is well worth it. And really, this isn't too bad at all.

6 tablespoons warm water (may need up to 1 or 2 tablespoons more water)
2 tablespoons white wine
3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups flour

Cornmeal for sprinkling
Flour for dusting counter
1/2 pound torn-up mozzarella
Few leaves of torn-up basil

Whisk wine, water and yeast in a medium bowl until yeast has dissolved. I added the yeast to the warm water, then added the wine after the yeast had dissolved. Remember, yeast needs warm, but not hot, water to activate. Add honey, salt and olive oil and stir. Add flour (it will look very dry) work it with a spoon and your fingers until it comes together as a dough. Add more water one tablespoon at a time if you need, I added 2 more tablespoons, but I really don't think it was necessary, next time I probably wont.

Sprinkle some flour on the counter and knead the dough for a minute or two.

Coat the inside of a medium bowl with olive oil. Put the dough in, cover it with plastic wrap or a dish towel, and let it rise for an hour or up to two, until it is doubled. Take heed... do NOT put the dough on the top of your stove thinking that the dough could use some extra heat to help it rise. It will cook the bottom of the dough. Yes, I did do that. And guess what - it didn't even matter! STILL DELICIOUS!

While dough is rising, make the sauce.

The sauce requires:
4 roma tomatoes
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced (I used about a tablespoon and a half of pre-minced garlic)
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Splash of white wine
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt

Bring medium pot of water to a boil. Poach the tomatoes for one minute only, and then drain them. As soon as they are cooled off enough that you can touch them, peel them. The peels should come right off. The easiest way to do it is to use a knife to just make a slit in the skins then peel from there.

Drain and dry the pot. Put it back on the burner over medium heat. Pour in olive oil and let it heat completely before adding the garlic and stirring it for a minute with a wooden spoon. Add the red pepper flakes and stir it for anther minute. You do not want the garlic to brown. Put the peeled tomatoes in the pot, along with the wine, sugar and salt. Break the tomatoes up with your spoon. Be careful when breaking up the tomatoes, you don't want to splash yourself with hot oil, it hurts. (Also, I bought a wooden spoon specifically for this - i think it was worth it, it's a really pretty spoon).

Let the sauce simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down. Carefully taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary. I didn't find it necessary to adjust the seasonings.

While your sauce is simmering turn back to your dough.

Preheat your oven to its highest temperature - mine goes to 500, I didn't use broil. Now, the directions I have say next "If you have a pizza stone, sprinkle it with cornmeal and put it in the oven. Otherwise, sprinkle a baking pan with the same." DO NOT DO THIS. I made a horrible stench of burned cornmeal - ick. Instead put your baking pan/ pizza stone in the oven, then sprinkle with corn meal just before putting your pizza on.

Once the dough has doubled, turn it out onto a floured counter and gently deflate the dough with the palm of your hands. Form it into a ball and let it rest on a floured spot with either plastic wrap over it (sprinkle the top of the dough with flour so it doesn’t stick) or an upended bowl. In 15 minutes, it is ready to roll out.

Do so on the floured counter until fairly thin (I think this can be done to taste), then lift it onto a cornmeal-sprinkled baking sheet or pizza paddle. Add the sauce, torn-up mozzarella and slivers of fresh basil. ** Note - I think it would be a good idea to blind-bake your pizza crust first. I like mine a little crispier so I will be doing so next time.

Bake for about 10 minutes, checking at 7. Slice and serve immediately.

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