Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Pizza Experiment

Time flies when you set a bunch of goals and then on top of that have to work and be a Mom. I'm not sure how successful I am at all of it but I do know I'm trying and have good and bad days like everyone else. Here's to me for not giving up!

Last weekend I found a wheat store and was very happy with all the information the sales lady gave me. She educated me on wheat grinders, gluten, bread pans and the wheat itself. I was pleased to gain so much knowledge and even better the store offers bread making classes! I think I'm going to attend. They start the first weekend in February. Now I must purchase the bread pans and wheat grinder before or shortly after I have taken the class.
I made pizza again, using the same recipe as before only this time I did the experiment I spoke of in a previous blog regarding the flour. The recipe tells you to warm the flour in the oven for 10 minutes. I wasn't sure how this could do much for the yeast so this time I didn't bother and went ahead with the recipe. After I let my kitchen aide knead the bread and took it out to let raise I could feel and see the difference already.

This is a picture just after kneading. It felt and looks grainy. After I noticed this I wondered if letting it raise in a warm area would make help so I let the dough raise on top of the warm oven for about an 1 1/2.
This is what the dough looked like after the allotted time given (I think I gave it longer because it wasn't raising very fast). Unfortunately, the picture doesn't do it justice but it's even more grainy than before. At this point I was convinced warming the flour truly affects the yeast as warm water does when it's dissolved in other recipes. Now for the final test - baking the pizza.
I found a recipe for pizza sauce that is amazing but for now I'm focusing on the crust. It's a little overwhelming to do both. The sauce required a serious amount of time to cook and reduce so for now I'm going with a simple version of tomato paste, water and several herbs. They consist of basil, oregano, minced onions and garlic salt. You can easily omit or add to depending on your taste.
While all of this is going on I have my stone plate in the oven heating up. I read somewhere that if you want the best pizza you must use a stone plate and you oven has to be as hot as you can get it. I turn my oven up to 500 degrees and cover the plate with corn meal so the crust doesn't stick.
After I roll out the dough to the desired size I literally pick it up and kinda flip it onto the stone plate. I haven't found a better way to do this so for now it works. I have to work quickly because the blast of heat that comes out of the oven when I open the door feels like I'm melting. I spread the sauce all over, add the cheese and then any toppings. By this time I'm sweating and ready to close the oven door.
I use real mozzarella cheese on my pizza because it tastes so much better than the imitation crap you can buy. You can taste the difference too and why would you want to go to all this work and use cheap ingredients? So here is the end result we've all been waiting for.
So the question we've all been waiting for - was the pizza different by not warming the flour? Yes, even after it was baked it tasted like the crust I ruined when I accidentally dissolved the yeast in warm water. You must warm the flour, there is a difference and I like this pizza crust. I also know that you must use a stone plate, your pizza will turn out just like it came from a pizzeria. Peter Reinhart, the bread baker guru wrote a book on the best pizza pie and I think I'd like to get a copy of it and try out some of his recipes. Perhaps the best pizza crust lies within.
I'm sad to report my Microsoft Office stopped working and I had to reinstall the program which put me back a week on writing. It's okay because I've been collecting names and working on my main characters characteristics. I do think I've been spending too much time on this and need to write now and stop procrastinating. I know one reason I haven't is I'm afraid I'm not that good of a writer and can't say what I want in an eloquent manner. I haven't really told anyone I'm actually writing and I don't want to say anything to my daughter. It's awful but she intimates me and I feel less confident when I speak of my writing so for now I'd like to keep it to myself. There is a writing class at the library and I think I'm going to attend. It might make me feel better and give me insight. I have nothing to lose.
And finally, I purchased the dreaded battery for the bathroom scale. It sat on the counter for a week before I put it in. After I rode my bike for 45 minutes and did 300 sit-ups, did I strip down to nothing and step on the scale. 130 pounds - oh god! I actually thought it would say 135 so I didn't feel so bad. The hard part is I work 11-hour days and come home late, fix dinner and do a few other things before I go to bed. Spinning isn't high on the priority list. I also found a wonderful yoga book at the library that I'd like to add to my New Year's resolution list or in conjunction with the lose weight goal. Do yoga! I love yoga, always have, why I stopped is beyond me but I'm gonna start again. I think it will really help me lose weight.