Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Different Kind of Dough

Last Christmas I received Jim Lahey's No-Knead Bread Book from my wonderful little sister and went a little crazy for a while testing out some recipes. My favorites were the classic basic bread, the pizza bianca,  the stecca and stirato but the one I had the most use for was the basic pizza, as it was something that didn't require a lengthy rise. So when my sister introduced me to this article I was intrigued with possible other pizza dough options.

According to the article beer is supposed to make the dough a little more supple and I had a little leftover beer from the beer braised spiced pork. After looking at a few different recipes for pizza dough with beer, I decided to go with the one I knew best, and just see what happened. So I took Jim Lahey's pizza recipe and instead of the whole portion of water did half water and half beer.

As I find his dough tends to be a lot and my pizza pan fairly small I broke it up into 2 different pizzas. This first one above is a rustic, less traditional version with the leftover pork, a little marinara, shredded brussel sprouts, garlic, smoked mozzarella, ricotta and then dusted on top with cumin and sprinkled with some pepitas (raw pumpkin seeds).

The second is more traditional. I unfroze a few of my homemade turkey meatballs and sliced them up, also unfroze a package of Trader Joe's Frozen Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini. Again, topped with smoked mozzarella and ricotta and then dusted with oregano. I was informed by my very knowledgeable pizza source who taste tested each one, that while both were good the latter one was the favorite and even with the amount of ingredients on top it was filling but light, which I attribute to the dough.

Both were delicious, but honestly the ingredients can come and go, it's the dough that's the star. As with any baking I was concerned that substituting the beer for half the water would completely throw off the recipe, but found that it was almost easier to handle and stretch out thin than his normal all water dough. After baking, it was light and crispy, with a slight bitter taste that I attribute to that particular beer but not off putting at all. If I did it again using a Saison I'd just add a pinch more sugar or just use a less bitter beer, or even completely substitute the sugar for honey. But definitely an experiment I'm glad I tried, as now I feel more confident to try other other dough additions and substitutions.

Basic Pizza Dough with Beer
3 3/4 c. bread flour
2 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
3/4 tsp. table salt
3/4 tsp. sugar
2/3 c. room temp water (72 degrees)
2/3 c. beer of choice

1. In a mixing bowl, stir together flour, yeast, salt and sugar. Add water/beer mixture and combine until blended. I find it's easiest to use with your hands as the dough isn't really wet (think almost more like pie dough). If too dry to stick together add a touch of either water or beer.. Cover and let sit at room temperature until dough has doubled in size, about 2 hours.

2. Preheat oven to 500. Oil a baking sheet. I use a round low sided braising pan from Le Creuset. Gently pull and stretch dough and press out to the edges. This takes some finesse so don't get frustrated if it breaks, just pinch the holes together and go slow. I find oiling my hands helps as well. Put toppings on.

3. Cook at 500 for approx 20-25 minutes depending on the number of toppings.

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