In 2009 just before Christmas I was reading a food magazine that was recommending some great books to give as christmas gifts. One of the selections was My Bread By Jim Lahey. I have always been interested in bread, eating it and making it. Growing up one of my favourite food memories is cutting the end off a home made loaf of bread, still warm, and slathering it with butter whicb begins to melt as you eat it. I love the book My Bread. It gives detailed instructions on the no knead bread method that Jim Lahey developed. The no knead method uses time instead of kneading to develop the gluten in the flour that gives bread it structure. I've spent the last year and a bit practising his method and trying out some variations inspired by this method. The following recipe is one of the results. It's a no knead pizza dough that can be made the night before or morning of the night you want to have pizza for dinner. It makes 8 6 inch pizzas.
No Knead Pizza Dough
3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon yeast, quick rise instant yeast (if you only have regular dry yeast dissolve it in a half a cup of warm water then use that water and yeast as part of the 1 1/2 cups of water in the first addition of water to the dough)
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
2 cups room temperature water
This dough works with as low as a 6 hour rising time, but 8 hours is better, and between 12 and 24 is best. The day I tested this specific recipe my dough had a 7 hour rise and it was good but a longer rise would have given it more of a pleasant chewy texture.
Step 1- Put the 2 flours, salt, sugar, and instant yeast in a bowl and stir to combine.
Step 2- Add the olive oil.
Step 3- Pour on 1 1/2 cups of water and with your hand stir around the bowl till the water is absorbed.
There will still be dry flour in the bowl.
Step 4- Now add another 1/4 cup of water and stir around till it moistens more of the flour and then another 1/4 cup. This is how much I used but depending on how old your flour is and how dry your house is, you may need another tablespoon or 2 of water or you may need slightly less.
In the picture above its almost there. I usually don't measure the water, adding enough till its just right. Just right occurs when all the flour is moist and a ball of dough has formed with no dry bits in the bottom of the bowl.
Step 5- Give it a quick knead of 4 to 6 mixes with your hand rubbing the edges of the bowl to collect all the bits of flour and form a ball. The dough should feel moist and sticky, but not wet.
Step 6-Cover the bowl with saran wrap and leave on the counter till an hour before you want to use it.
Step 7- After 6 hours it will look like this and it is fine to use now or any time up to 24 hours. When you are ready to start preparing dinner sprinkle it with flour and with your hand scrape it from the edges of the bowl, knead it a few times and then form it into a ball.
Step 8 -Put the ball on a floured counter and cut in to 8 pieces then roll the 8 pieces into balls and place them on a floured counter and cover them with saran wrap.
Step 9- Rest the balls of dough like this for half an hour. They can sit for up to 2 hours.
Step 10-Half an hour before you plan to bake the pizza turn the oven on to 450 and get some cookie sheets ready. I put parchment paper down on my pans because it makes the clean up easy but if you're not using parchment then lightly oil the pan or you can sprinkle it with flour and/or cornmeal. Now its time to roll. Lightly flour the counter, push the ball of dough flat with your fingers then use a rolling pin and roll out to your desired thickness.
Step 11- Place the rolled out pizza crusts on the pan and top with what ever you like. Bake for 10 minutes or so. The cheese should be melted and the crust starting to brown around the edges.
At Bella Bistro we make our tomato sauce with imported Italian tomatoes and a little garlic sautéed in extra virgin olive oil and fresh basil. At home sometimes I make Bella's pizza sauce but I also use the jars of tomato puree just as it comes straight from the jar.
Right now Costco has some great tomato products, 100 oz cans of imported Italian San Marzano tomatoes and tomato puree. I really recommend this brand of canned tomatoes. They are rich and less acidic than the brands at the grocery store. Costco also has Victoria tomato sauce. Victoria is a California company that makes pasta sauces with imported Italian tomatoes and all natural ingredients. In the tomato sauce isle at Costco they also have Garofalo brand pasta. This is an imported Italian pasta that one of our foodie friends in Umbria said was the best pasta. And Costco is selling it! At a great price!
When I made the pizzas on Thursday this week, there were two balls of dough left. I squished them back into a firm ball and wrapped them tightly and individually in saran wrap. Then popped them in the fridge and pulled them out and made a couple of pizzas with them for lunch on Saturday. They worked great. After step 7 when you have formed the dough into a ball, you could wrap it tightly in saran wrap and refrigerate it for a couple of days or freeze it and use it later. If its frozen let it thaw at room temperature then carry on with the next step.