The most looked forward to day of the week is Friday. Friday night many of us want to unplug and unwind with a movie and…. pizza of course! This popular tradition of Pizza Fridays is a classic. Either making a homemade gourmet creation or ordering out, many have welcomed this favorite tradition into their homes. Lisa Hjalt from Latte Lisa has made this weekly tradition in her home for a couple years. Pizza Fridays is a serious day to her family and will seem to continue for a long time.
“The day has flown by and before I know it I’ll put on my apron and start making the Friday pizzas. In fact, I called from work to ask if I needed anything for the pizza making and I decided to tease my husband and said with a rather serious voice: “You know what, I think I’ll skip the pizzas today, as I’m not in the mood to make them.” I wish I could allow you to hear the silence that followed. I could almost touch that silence. I was picturing him with a facial expression indicating that his world had just crumbled. When I told him I was kidding he said with almost a shocking voice: “Are you trying to kill me?” This is what happens when you make pizzas every Friday. We have been doing that for more than two years now and Fridays in this home without home-made pizzas are simply unthinkable.”
Pizza in its most basic form as a seasoned flatbread has a long history in the Mediterranean. Several cultures including the Greeks and Phoenicians ate a flatbread made from flour and water. The dough would be cooked by placing on a hot stone and then seasoned with herbs. The Greeks called this early pizza plankuntos and it was basically used as an edible plate when eating stews or thick broth. It was not yet what we would call pizza today but it was very much like modern focaccia. These early pizzas were eaten from Rome to Egypt to Babylon.
Erik and Zoe from Bite This are pizza-obsessed and perfected the Best Pizza Dough recipe. This recipe will involve a bit of extra time… but worth it.
- 5 1/4 cups (24 ounces by weight) unbleached bread flour
- 2 teaspoons (0.5 oz.) kosher salt
- 1 1/4 teaspoons (0.14 oz.) instant yeast (or 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast dissolved in the water)
- 2 tablespoons (1 oz.) olive oil (optional)
- 1 tablespoons (1/2 oz.) sugar or honey (optional)
- 2 1/4 cups (18 oz.) room temperature water (less if using honey or oil)
- Mix by hand with a big spoon or in an electric mixer using the paddle.
- Combine all the ingredients in the bowl and mix for one minute, to form a coarse, sticky dough ball.
- Let the dough rest for five minutes, then mix again for one minute to make a smooth, very tacky ball of dough.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface, rub a little oil on your hands, and fold the dough into a smooth ball. Let it rest on the work surface for 5 minutes and then stretch and fold the dough into a tight ball. Repeat this again, two more times, at 5 minute intervals. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and immediately place in the refrigerator. The dough can be used anywhere from 6 hours to three days after it goes in the fridge.
- When ready to make the pizzas, pull the dough from the refrigerator two hours prior to when you plan to bake. Divide the dough into five 8-ounce pieces (if there is any extra dough divide it evenly among the dough balls). With either oil or flour on your hands, form each piece into a tight dough ball and place on a lightly oiled pan. Mist the dough balls with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap or place the pan inside a large plastic bag.
- Give the dough at least 90 minutes before making the pizzas. If you don’t plan to use them all, place the extra dough balls inside of an oiled freezer bag and keep in the refrigerator (for up to three days) or in the freezer (for up to three months).
- If using a pizza stone in your home oven, preheat the oven to the highest setting one hour before you plan to make the pizzas. If using a wood-fired oven, you know what to do for your particular oven. If you do not have a baking stone you can bake the pizzas on a sheet pan.
- Top with your favorite toppings–this dough can be stretched thin (12-13 inches) for Roman-style pizzas, or 10-11-inches for Naples-style.
- You really want to get your oven to max temp and cook it at that. We’ve done a little experimenting and find that, with a pizza stone, we sprinkle cornmeal on the stone then put the dough on it, with no toppings, and pop it in the oven for about 4 minutes – until the crust starts to cook and puff up. We then take it out of the oven, pop any big bubbles in the dough, and add our toppings and then cook for another 5-10 minutes – keeping an eye on it. Try it this way – it seems to make for a better crust in the oven. I think our current oven gets way hotter than our last oven, so we had to adjust timing a bit. As for our big green egg, we can get the temps well over 700 (just like a wood oven), so we can put the whole pizza in there for 4-7 minutes and have a perfectly cooked pizza. It takes a few tries to get a crust that you like!