Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Pizza Recipes Using Fresh and Instant Dry Yeast

Back in late March I wrote about (in a blog) using my uncles starter in my  Pizza Dough Recipe.
I don't know if it's like this for everyone but my sourdough starter is like a child. It needs attention and it's temperamental. If the weather isn't just right it doesn't always yield the results I am looking for. If you've ever tried to use a sourdough starter to make pizza you know that sometimes the gluten doesn't develop properly and the dough won't stretch properly. From my experience and the reading I've done, I believe this is due to moisture and temperature changes and possibly atmospheric changes in the weather (depending on if we have a low or high pressure system in the area). I'm not a chemistry expert by any means so I can't go into the explanation of why this happens but I know it's because my starter is a breathing living organism, sometimes it's sweet & charming and other times its sour & acting out.  Unfortunately I can't talk to it and explain the circumstances, it isn't a child and it can't learn, but I can. I've discovered that I can get the flavor I'm looking for and compensate for it's unruly behavior by adding a tiny pinch of fresh or active dry yeast.

Adding that tiny pinch of fresh or active dry Yeast calms it down and gives me incredible results during it's more temperamental periods and the colder months. 

If you're going to use a sourdough starter to make pizza, you need to love it, care for it, and know it. This is not a one time deal and poof you've got pizza. Using a sourdough starter for pizza takes time to develop. If you don't have that time then you can try the following recipes that use fresh/ active dry yeast. They will yield great results and you won't have to worry about your sourdough starter misbehaving. 

Note:  I don't always Proof my Instant Yeast thought I haven't come across a recipe that doesn't do this. It's the process of hydrating the yeast in water before feeding it the flour it needs to grow. If you are unsure of the life of your yeast this is an important step to follow. I have found the instant yeast I buy in the supermarket to be very active. I have never had a problem just tossing it into the water first and then adding the flour etc. In addition I don't like to add additional sugar in any form to my dough so I always omit it.

The following recipes may make more dough than you need, so go ahead and divide it up, use what you need and freeze the rest. It will last for at least a month in the freezer so go ahead and test it out!

Pizza Dough - Fresh Yeast

2# flour (set 1 cup aside)
1 3/4  cups warm water (set ½ cup aside)
1 t salt
1/2 ounce fresh yeast

Mix together the following, and let sit for 1/2 hour in the mixer bowl fitted with the hook the flour and water you set aside with all the yeast.
1cup flour
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 ounce fresh yeast

After 30 minutes:
Combine remaining salt and flour and add to yeast mixture with the remaining warm water. Warm water is approximately your body temperature. If the dough seems dry add an extra 1/4 cup of water. Mix until the dough cleans the bowl.(At this point the dough can be left in the refrigerator overnight.)
Cover and let rise 2 hours or until double in bulk. If it's been refrigerated take it out of the refrigerator 1 hour before starting, to give it time to come to room temperature and rise in the bowl (depending on how warm it is in your kitchen the time will vary.
When it’s risen, Flour you table, and roll out and shape the dough then add sauce, cheese and bake on a pizza stone at 450 - 500

Pizza Dough - Instant Dry Yeast

No-Knead Pizza Dough adapted from Jim Lahey

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast (such as SAF brand)
1½ teaspoons salt
1½ cups water

1. In a large bowl, mix the flour with the yeast and salt. Add the water and stir until blended (the dough will be very sticky). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest for 12 to 24 hours in a warm spot, about 70°.
2. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and lightly sprinkle the top with flour. Fold the dough over on itself once or twice, cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.
3. Divide the dough into 4 pieces and shape each piece into a ball. Generously sprinkle a clean cotton towel with flour and cover the dough balls with it. Let the dough rise for 2 hours.
4. Stretch or toss the dough into the desired shape, cover with toppings and bake on top of a very hot pizza stone.

There are a variety of pizza dough recipes you can find online. I prefer the ones that are simple and don't contain anything but flour water and yeast. Take a look at Peter Reinhart, his recipes are very good and work very well at home also.

Have Fun & Enjoy