Sunday, January 29, 2012

My best pizza ever

Both Mr Hippo and I agree today's pizza has been my best ever.  In fact, it was so good that I had to move fast to protect the last piece from being devoured by Mr Hippo.  Otherwise, I would not have these two pictures to show off! 

Over the years I've learned the No. 1 rule to make pizza is simplicity, aka, do not over-load your pizza with tons of exotic ingredients!  The most peculiar thing I have ever experienced was Chinese cabbage.  Don't ask me why: either that American friend of mine happened to feel improvisational that day or he attempted to make me feel at home.   As much as I love both the cabbage and pizza, I can ensure you the two do not click.

For today's pizza I just made a simple sauce, prepared in a frying pan beforehand.   It is made of vine-ripened tomatoes, onion, garlic and olive oil.  Then I baked pizza dough at 220C for about 7 minutes until it was fully puffed up, as if I were making a pita.  Next, I took the 'pita' out of oven and poked, poked, and poked until the dough shrunk to more or less like a normal pizza base.  I emphasized the action of poking not because that was a strenuous task.  On the contrary, it was fun and even somewhat magical to turn a monster-like puff into a low-key flat bread in 30 seconds.

Then I topped the bread with the tomato sauce and sliced mozzarella cheese.  Put it back to the oven until the cheese fully melted.  Then I took it out, decorated with basil from my balcony garden and served!

This twice-baking procedure resulted in a pizza gooey at first bite and crunchy when I sunk my teeth into it.  For sure I will stick to the method in my future pizza-making endeavor!

Two other factors might also contributed to my success today.  First, I threw a teaspoon of sugar into my mixer when making the dough at 10am, because I wanted to make sure the dough was ready by noon/the time I started to make lunch.  As a result, the sugar-powered yeast grew like crazy and at one point, Mr Hippo said, "hi, your dough is over-flowing!"   It is not we got a one-cup mixer that was too small to hold one pizza dough, but because I purposely made enough fermented dough for making one pizza for lunch and some steamed buns (Mantou/馒头 in Chinese) for dinner.  So here comes the second factor, I did not put any olive oil when making the pizza dough as I normally do, because I didn't want olive-oil-flavored Manto.  I doubt my success was due to the lack of olive oil, but if it is possible to eat less oil, even it is the healthiest type, why not?!  The tomato sauce has it, after all.  So we hardly missed the flavor.

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