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Somewhere around here is a list of things that I love. One of those things (okay, the top of that list) is my (white) KitchenAid Classic. I could do a whole other post about the sexy feeling I get with this thing. (Hey, cooking is supposed to be visceral … I can feel sexy about a mixer if I want to!) This thing (and, I admit, it is a bit of a hefty lump) makes making bread and dough into a no-excuse event. Its so simple!
I’m not sure what came first – the routine or the mixer – but Saturday night in my house is pizza night. Not “slutty pizza” which is what I charmingly call the all-out greasy pizza bought from a crappy take-away (although this does have its place at times …) but ‘proper’ homemade pizza. Good dough. Simple topping (this recipe is simply a tomato base, mozzarella cheese, quartered cherry tomatoes, sliced red onion and fried pancetta). It is, quite literally, all good …
Red, white and ... purple
Red, white and … purple
This is the recipe I use for the stand mixer. I state these amounts because I have found this makes a good sturdy dough, not too dry or so sticky that you can’t handle it.

Ingredients

  • 460g (1 lb and 2 oz) strong bread flour
  • 1 sachet dried yeast (most sachets are 7g)
  • 300ml hand hot water, not boiled hot as it will kill the yeast, but hot enough it activates it
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
 Optional (but really, really good):
  • 1-2 teaspoons of dried mixed herbs
  • 50-100g of semolina or cornmeal

Method

Dissolve the sugar in the hot water, pour in the olive oil and sprinkle over the yeast and mix or agitate with your fingers, just to get everything mixed together and leave for roughly 10 minutes.
Measure out the flour in the bowl of your mixer (if you are using one) and if you want to add some texture to your pizza dough then substitute 50-100g of flour with either semolina or cornmeal – just as long as you make sure the dry mixture stays at around 460g, this will give it a grainy texture and added flavour, otherwise just use all flour. Then add the salt. This is also when you can add the dried mixed herbs if you want to add more flavour to your dough.
Using a half cup measure remove a heaped half cup amount of dry flour mixture from the mixing bowl and stand to one side, you will add this later.
Once the yeast has become frothy add this to the mixing bowl and with the kneading hook mix this on low for about 2 minutes, after this lift the hook up and add the half cup measure of flour mixture you removed earlier. The Kitchen Aid user manual suggests a similar method for bread and pizza dough.
I’ve tried it lots of different ways – throwing all the dry ingredients including the yeast into the bowl and adding the hot water and oil, but this doesn’t quite work and the salt in the dry mix can inhibit the yeast which is why it is good to activate it separately from the flour mixture. I’ve tried mixing the yeast and wet ingredients in the bowl of the mixer and then dumping the flour in, or adding it slowly cup by cup. None of these methods have worked very well. The method I’ve suggest above with removing half a cup of dry mixture ensures that the wet mixture will centre around the dough hook and once you add the flour mixture you removed it will all pull together in a clump (kind of like a big doughy sausage) as it is supposed to do, leaving the sides of the bowl clean and nothing left over in the bowl.
When kneading by hand I think it is almost impossible to overdo it, but it is possible to over knead it with the mixer and some people say 5 minutes with a mixer, but I usually do it a bit longer, but no longer than 7/8 minutes – especially if you are using the number 2 speed setting on a Kitchen Aid.
As I said with these amounts and this method you should be finished with a good and sturdy pizza dough that is clumped onto the kneading hook in one piece. It should spring back lightly when pressed – it’s not a button so it won’t completely depress when you take your finger away. But, it should be smooth and elastic.
Once removed from the hook (you may need to flour your hands lightly to do this) pour a small glug of oil into the mixing bowl and drop the dough into it and turn it about until it is completely covered in oil.
Cover with a tea towel and leave somewhere warm for 40mins/1 hour. I turn the bottom oven on and sit it on the open grill door.
Dough

Dough

It should be doubled in size after this time and when you put your finger into it it won’t spring back. It should end up the consistency that when you stretch it about it won’t pull back on itself.
Base

Base

For greedy pigs like us we have this entire piece of dough as one very chunky pizza. However it will make two standard sized pizzas, with not too-thin bases, for sharing. You should also be able to get three or four very thin bases depending on how large you roll it out.

Mozzarella, Pancetta & Red Onion

Mozzarella, Pancetta & Red Onion

 I heat up a perforated pizza tin in the oven on a high heat 200/220 and brush with oil before laying the dough on so that the base gets a good crust. When we have this as one pizza I usually cook it on its own in the oven for a few minutes before putting the toppings on so that it has chance to cook through.
It only needs 15-20 minutes of further cooking, until the cheese has melted and the visible dough has crisped and browned. You’ll notice that the mozzarella gives off a lot of water whilst cooking. I have tried blotting the slices before baking, but it still happens. Today I either (carefully!) pour off some of this liquor or (if I can stand to be patient) give it a few minutes to soak back into the hot dough before slicing and enjoying!
Pizza-y goodness

Pizza-y goodness

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