Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Half Baked: How To Make A Pizza

THINGS I ATE THAT I RUVVEDYou know how long it takes to make a pizza? Ten minutes, you lazy little thing. Plus two hours. Sort of.

1. Put a almost-a-tablespoon, or at least a teaspoon, of sugar and some honey and maybe a little molasses in a measuring cup with 3/4 cup of hot tap water. STIR.

2. Add two packets of dry yeast. Don't stir. Let it get all foamy and gross, about 5 to 10 minutes.

3. Pour one cup of white flour and one cup of semolina flour onto the counter. WHICH YOU SHOULD HAVE WIPED DOWN before you did that, or else there'll be garbage in your pizza.

4. It doesn't have to be white and semolina. Just two cups of flour. Half wheat? Half white? All white? Whatever you like! You only have cake flour? Who gives a shit! Do you think in the middle ages when they made flour products they had time to care what kind of flour it was? No. They were just trying not to eat rats.

5. Add a bunch of salt to the flour. I use like slightly less salt than I do sugar. I use a lot of salt and sugar. This is what makes it taste good, and go fuck yourself, Mike Bloomberg.

6. Make your flour pile into a volcano-crater shape. Pour some of your yeasty mess into the CALDERA. That's right. I said caldera. Mush it into the flour.

7. Continue until yeast-water is absorbed. Early on, add a couple tablespoons of olive oil too.

8. As with any dough? This should be pretty dry-firm. Not sticky. Not wet. You know. Doughy. ADD MORE FLOUR if you're soggy.

9. Make it into a ball, cover it in olive oil and put it in a plastic or ceramic bowl. Put saran wrap over the top of the bowl and put it in either: A) The turned-off oven, if the house is cold, B) Somewhere toasty and not breezy or even C) in the sun. Particularly if you are in a hurry.

10. Let 90 minutes to 3 hours pass. When it is all puffy and blown up like a Nerf soccer ball, take the saran wrap off and punch it like it's your ex's face.

11. This will be enough dough for two medium-ish pizzas, or one huge one, or one really thick one, or whatever. (Heh.)

12. ONE STEP SAUCE: Chop some garlic, throw it in a saucepan with olive oil briefly, maybe an onion or something, then put in a can or so of whole peeled tomatoes or you know some REAL tomatoes from "outside," mash those up as you stir for a while, put in some oregano and I usually put in a little red wine vinegar or something tart and some honey, and some salt, obvs, and sometimes a little lemon peel. Let this cook down to a smooth pasty sauce-like thing. Basically you can put ANYTHING in this. Just don't let it be watery at the end.

13. MOST IMPORTANT PART. Turn your oven on to the CLEAN SETTING. If your oven is one of those that locks during this, find some way to psych it out. Self-cleaning ovens top out at around 900 degrees F, which is a little crazy. Try and get the oven to like, 600 degrees. As hot as you can get it.

13.5 This is my only concession to being a food bitch, because, honestly? A pizza stone really works. This should be in your oven getting hot. Don't have one? That's fine! You can use an upside-down cookie sheet, or any kind of tray-leave it in the oven, and you will throw the pizza on top of it when it's time to cook. Worse comes to worse, you are going to want a tray at the bottom if you just have to throw your pizza on the rack, because, OMG, stuff will leak down. Just find something flat that you can put some flour on and let get hot.

14. Get out your trusty label-less wine bottle, or if you are very fancy, your rolling pin. Throw a TON of flour around. Plop down half the dough, or all the dough, or whatever. Roll it out to something like the size of a pizza. Square, round, misshapen, whatever.

15. Sauce it. Top it. Twerk it.

15.5. No seriously you can put anything on this.

16. Gather up your pizza and have someone open the blisteringly hot oven and then somehow you will throw it in there without losing all toppings. This can and may go horribly wrong! So what!


18. Removal is also very frightening. I do not have a "pizza peel" because I am not a total homo, NO OFFENSE, so I use like two spatulas and then toss the pizza from the oven to the nearby counter (burning myself slightly on the way) where it is devoured like a lost rabbit at a junkyard dog party.


109 Comments / Post A Comment

Mindpowered (#948)


Mindpowered (#948)

Oh hey. Is this the great 3pm comment lull?

The time when you say to yourself (or your boss does) "we should really get something done today" before you slide back into indigent apathy and begin the afternoons vodka fueled commentary.

Mindpowered (#948)

No. Just my browser. Fucked by deathbear.

NicFit (#616)

A large, well seasoned cast iron skillet can substitute nicely for a pizza stone. Upside down so you can slide it off easily.

But seriously, making dough? Hassle. Mess. Go to Motorino.

No, I swear! YES YOU CAN! That's the easiest part! And it's what makes it so tasty. Please to try?

(Also I may use the skillet trick!)

NicFit (#616)

You're right, making the dough is really the whole point. Skillet trick is awesome and I think I got it from some gothamist post a while back, so…all yours!

jolie (#16)

It's also the most fun part. Especially the punching! I like to pretend it's [redacted].

Tuna Surprise (#573)


I just went to a dinner party where some guy went the full Martha Stewart and made some high class shit and then later admitted he's never made homemade pasta. WTF, dude!

Here's how you do it: put flour into a volcano pile on counter, put eggs in pile, salt, mix. Knead it a few minutes. Let it rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. Roll with pasta machine OR wine bottle OR rolling pin. Cut into shapes. Put in boiling water. Fin.

Not so, Tuna!
I just attempted Keller's pasta dough for agnolotti (SIX yolks plus a whole egg!) and this was the result. (And I'm totally handy! I swears!)

My hands are still sore. (Is what she said.)

Tuna Surprise (#573)


I've diagnosed your problem: KELLER.

Too advanced. Try something easier


Use all purpose flour and non-organic eggs. Won't make a difference.

kneetoe (#1,881)

@Dorothy: You forgot to cut it into shapes!

Oh, truth! I've made the Hazan recipe (one egg per just under a cup of flour) to relative success, but GODDAMN it, I wanted the true Keller agnolotti! (How come <a href="http://carolcookskeller.blogspot.com/2007/10/sweet-potato-agnolotti-with-sage-cream.html"Carol gotta make it look so easy, huh?)

Maevemealone (#968)

Pasta is the easiest thing in the world! For a while there I even forgo'd dried pasta for home made on any given weeknight bc it's that easy. ALSO it is a great date/couple thing. Get a pasta machine, make the MAN put it together and they feel like they just cooked you gourmet meal. Even though they didn't even boil the water.

Um. Has anyone tried the Steingarten recipe from Vogue a year or so back? I need to know if I should throw that tear sheet away.

Um. It was from 2002.

/Ignore me, call Hoarders

Make the dough the day before. Seriously, you let it rise for 45 minutes, punch it, wrap it in Saran, then stick it in the fridge until the next day. That way it gets that perfect crunchy/chewy baguette-like action.

Olivia2.0 (#1,716)

I'm totally trying your dough recipe – also, Alton Brown suggested using a piece of like, concrete patio tile? Like, the kind of thing your mom would use to make "stepping stones" out of in the yard? You know? I have one, it totally works and it was like, $4, literally, $4. And you just leave it in there? All the time? It works!

Also, disturbingly, my oven does not have a clean setting. Weird!

fek (#93)

Motorino is DANK.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

aw, HELL Naw on your hassle. Mess = FUN! Plus leftover dough in teh freezar = more for later! (seriously. GF and I are making one tomorrow from last week's batch.)
poor-man's pizza stone: flip a metal baking sheet upside down, sprinkle with CORNMEAL and maybe even some flour mixed in. pound that floppy mess out and throw it on there. Slides like a cheap toupee off of Sam Donaldson.

nadie (#807)

haha, pound that floppy mess out.

mathnet (#27)

Why I happen to have some molasses, dry yeast and semolina flour right here!

jolie (#16)

I understand that to be sarcasm. And yet? At my house?

jolie (#16)

Oh God CHOIRE!! Coat it in olive oil, not cover it in olive oil. You're teaching these people, try to mind that fact and use your words carefully.


jolie (#16)


sox (#652)


portmanteautally (#1,015)

I like to squish the tomatoes with my hands before adding them to the saucepan. Adds an extra element of joy to the whole proceedings.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

every time i've ever tried that, it adds an extra element of seed-laden tomato gelatin to the whole of my neatly-pressed white shirt. upon which i am promptly relieved of duty with an eyeroll by the missus.

Alright, pizza is legit, but please don't post, "how to make Chinese."

gaytheist (#929)

(actually, do)

Ronit (#1,557)

MOST IMPORTANT PART. Turn your oven on to the CLEAN SETTING.

OMG. This is genius. I can't believe I've never thought of cooking on the clean setting.

La Cieca (#1,110)

If ever I have seen a phrase that had "class action lawsuit" written all over it, that would be this.

Bittersweet (#765)

No kidding. I'm intrigued, but also wracked with visions of the charred remains of my house.

josh_speed (#97)

Um yeah folks: don't go for a nap while the stove is preheating to 900 degrees.

C_Webb (#855)

I guess I always thought that soap would shoot out the sides, like the car wash.

cupcakes (#439)

I can't tell if you're kidding or not, but I cook a lot….and I really did think that.

This is actually kind of a standard thing really hard-core home pizza-making folks recommend. Like Jeffrey Steingarten! In a Vogue article I first read almost 20 years ago, maybe, that is reproduced here.

La Cieca (#1,110)

I think it would be fair, though, to include a step 13(a): "Find a chair or stepladder and set it up directly beneath your smoke detector; or, better yet, just remove the batteries before you even proceed."

sox (#652)

I already have to do this any time i turn on the oven…there's never any smoke but the damn thing goes off every single time.

Ooh! There you are. Now be a love and go make that, then report back here.

(Didn't see yours :( And we linked to the same article! Forget the pizza–I think a beautiful friendship is in the making!)

Yes! And I have a very vivid memory of reading this on the beach… September issue, if memory serves…

Hoarders will have to cart both of us away, I fear!

LOL "I have confirmed all this with my new Raynger ST 8….From several feet away, you point it at anything you wish and pull the trigger, and it instantly tells you the temperature of that thing within a tenth of a degree. My gun goes up to 1,000 deg F! Sure, it cost way too much."

OMG, I just like turn the oven on and figure it's really hot.

slinkimalinki (#182)

fuck yiz all with your fancy ovens ith a clean setting.

Fifi (#1,639)

True dat.

Flashman (#418)

I was just thinking how strange it is that, for all that there's a crappy pizza joint on just about every block in this city, nobody makes pizza the way they do in Naples. And I was thinking maybe to have a go at it myself, or at least, to convince my Neapolitan ex-girlfriend to come over and have a go at it herself. But for teh time being, I'll give Choire's method a try

kneetoe (#1,881)

"No. They were just trying not to eat rats."

Which is what caused the plague.

bassknives (#2,903)

Proof that they had Domino's in the Middle Ages?

brianvan (#149)

Admission of guilt: 90 minutes is the perfect amount of time to stew tomatoes for sauce while you're letting the yeast in the dough do its thing. I actually have stewed tomato sauce in the fridge right now. I just have to figure out how many lbs of tomatoes works best for this.

If I ever do this, I am sure to try it with chicken cutlets and french dressing as toppings, as they do at one of my favorite pizza places. (A whole mess of spinach artichoke dip probably works too, scenesters!)

obomobo (#2,490)

I would blanch dem tomatoes first. Those skins don't taste too good in a sauce.

myfanwy (#1,124)

Needs more Hulk.

myfanwy (#1,124)

Also: timely, as I was planning on making pizza anyways this week and usually buy sauce. NOT ANYMORE.

Tuna Surprise (#573)

I picture Hulk as a Wiener Schnitzel guy:

"Hulk take veal. Hulk mad at world for letting veal die so young. Hulk smash veal until very thin. Hulk bread and fry veal."

myfanwy (#1,124)

"Hulk cry tears for lost potential of tasty baby cow."

I am absolutely certain that sometime this evening, I will remember the words, "Hulk smash veal until very thin." And I will laugh until I asphyxiate!

I don't think you should put the dough bowl in the sun.

I got a pizza peel as a gift once. (I have never, not once, made my own pizza.) Do you know how fucking HUGE that shit is? This is fucking New York City! Get outta here.

jolie (#16)

FOR SERIOUS. Dude. My oven isn't even big enough for a full sized cookie sheet.

garge (#736)

Right? I can fit a jellyroll pan and an oven thermometer, and thank my lucky stars every day that this apartment's actually has numbers on the knob.

Ronit (#1,557)

You know what makes the best pizza sauce? Pesto.

kneetoe (#1,881)

One step sause:
1. Cut up garlic
2. Heat oil

Ronit (#1,557)

This works pretty well too.

kneetoe (#1,881)

Fucker cut me off, but you see the smart-assy way I'm going here. No?

3. blanch, peel, cut up tomatoes
4. etc

(See, each number is a step.)

Mindpowered (#948)


Ronit (#1,557)

oh. I thought you were proposing that we just use garlic and oil as the "sauce". Because that would be pretty tasty.

slinkimalinki (#182)

1. cut up garlic
2.heat oil
3. throw garlic and chilli flakes into oil
4. when garlic is starting to go a tad brown and crunchy, pour in red wine to cool that oil the fuck down
5. throw in some tomato paste. yeah bitches, PASTE.
5. give it like five minutes to all cook together.

fedward (#2,981)

Use instant (AKA "bread machine" or "rapid rise") yeast instead of the active dry stuff and you don't have to proof it. For maximum laziness, dig out that food processor you never use, and put the flour and instant yeast in, pulse a few times, then turn the thing on and add hot water and salt. If you have the plastic dough blade, use it, but if you don't just use the metal one. It'll be fine. I don't put sugar in my pizza dough, but you can add that if you want. Run the food processor until the dough forms a ball that whirls around the bowl in one piece, then keep running it for 20-30 seconds to knead the dough. Remove from bowl, oil, and continue as above.

Kakapo (#2,312)

No, no, no to all of this. Rapid rise yeast should be made illegal. For a tasty pizza dough, you should actually cut the amount of yeast in half and wait a bit longer to let the dough actually develop flavor. No to a food processor, too. You need to work the dough by hand to develop the gluten strands. A food processor is just going to hack them apart.

Alex Pareene (#278)

16 is always where things go TERRIBLY WRONG for me. (but we do have a pizza stone, and it came with "a pizza peel" which I guess makes me so gay)

HiredGoons (#603)

How to make a Pizza: go to Artichoke, order a slice.

Mine's faster.

rolling pin?!?! ROLLING PIN?!?! that's gotta be bad for the gluten or whatever (i don't actually know what i'm talking about) but in any case WTF? stretch it out with your hands, motherfucker, press that shit with your FINGERS!

mathnet (#27)

Ooooh, that's you?? Love your work, babe.

thanks! my brain doesn't make comments well so I only comment here when I feel VERY STRONGLY ABOUT SOMETHING.

slinkimalinki (#182)


iplaudius (#1,066)

How to psych out your oven.

Rod T (#33)

Turn your oven on to the CLEAN SETTING.

Fancy white lady. What the fuck? You forgot a step: Clean up is a breeze. Just have your staff attend to it.

Rod T (#33)

And I just looked at that oven in the picture. That oven doesn't have a "clean" setting.

Rod T (#33)

WAIT. I'VE SEEN THAT PIZZA BEFORE: http://www.lilfrankies.com/

AHA! Note that there are no pictures of the prep!

Rod T (#33)

(Having made focaccia with one of my besties though, I can pretty much say that this all looks valid to me. I would have used carrots as my something sweet and not honey.)

jennie (#25)

fudgy? or cakey?

WindowSeat (#180)

Three things.

1) Homemade pizza is ridiculously easy and fun
2) Pizza stones rawk
3) Fuck that sauce noise, crush canned San Marzanos with your hands and spread on dough and drizzle with olive oil.

(Possible #4, pizza peels are useful and aren't all that gay unless you're doing some Frat role-playing shit with them.)

keanesian (#1,116)

Am I the only one embarrassed that I've never before thought to use a wine bottle as a rolling pin?

slinkimalinki (#182)

fill it with cold water and put the cork back in. if you want to be fancy, take the label off.

carpetblogger (#306)

I rolled Choire's pie crust using a bottle of Astana vodka on Thanksgiving. Super!

6h057 (#1,914)



6h057 (#1,914)

Caps lock because it's just that serious.

zidaane (#373)

If you want to get fancy- find an Italian grocer and use San Marzano canned tomatoes and Caputo 00 flour.
The 00 flour is insanely fine and light and makes a better crust. Choire will cry after he feels that fine dough in his hands after the glop he was using.

ljnd (#86)

1/2 regular flour (called Manitoba in Naples) and 1/2 00 flour. Definitely San Marzano tomatoes. NO FREAKING HONEY. DEFINITELY NO MOLASSES – what are you, a CHEMIST or something? Water, yeast, salt, flour. Tomatoes, oil, garlic, salt. Fresh – with the milk running out of it – mozzarella. And do not put the freaking basil on the pie until you take it OUT of the oven. ON THE DAMN PEEL.

This – http://www.amazon.com/Pizza-Recipes-Homemade-Focaccia-Calzones/dp/0767903730 – is the BIBLE.

tiny dancer (#1,774)

If you have the resources, throw that pizza on a grill. It's awesome.

Sakurambobomb (#1,722)

I used to make pizza dough for a restaurant in the early 80's and those fuckers paid me, not hourly, but by PIECE.

Your recipe omits that vast quantities of boll weevils that MY delicious pizza doughs had!

Sakurambobomb (#1,722)

Flour beetle, not boll weevil. Ick.

HiredGoons (#603)

Needs more swears.

propertius (#361)

More flames and smoke too, as in the turkey recipe.

steno (#2,660)

Uh, the peel is more for getting the pizza in the oven easier. Cover it with cornmeal, lay on the dough, dress the pizza, & shake the thing onto the hot stone.

Oh yeah, that's true!


KeithTalent (#2,014)

Oven thermometers – you may think food dorky but it's handy to know hot your oven is. Knob numbers lie.

slinkimalinki (#182)

everything with a knob lies.

mathnet (#27)


wb (#2,214)

How to make a cheap fucking pizza stone:

1) Buy enough terra cotta tiles to hold a pizza-sized object (9ish?)
2) Put them in your fucking oven
3) Proceed with The Awl pizza recipe

Hehe. Alton Brown comments here?! Sweet.

wb (#2,214)


I think I just got #11!!!

slinkimalinki (#182)

oh hey, my flatmate just got stood up by his date, so i made pizza to console him. thanks, awl!

josh_speed (#97)

You're a sweetheart!

Not to gild the lily here, but Mr. Sicha, I am exploiting your recipe as a prosciutto, asiago and caper delivery system.

djzouke (#3,026)

I make the dough more or less like you but without sugar and more olive oil. Flour is half good bread flour and half high gluten. My sig-spouse puts the pizza in without anything for 5 minutes, w/cheeses for 5 minutes, w/sauce for 5 minutes @500. Never had anything better in NYC. Keste, Co., Motorino et al. Tweak it and you'll never go out for pizza again. PLUS you can have a real good bottle of red vino or beer whatever.

Kakapo (#2,312)

Re the self-cleaning trick: You've read Jeffrey Steingarten's lovely pizza-making essay!

Dilworth (#525)

Clean setting is for wussbags. You want blistering hot? Try the charcoal grill (and I don't fucking mean a gas grill). Makes a mean pizza.

ButterDough (#3,086)

"Turn your oven on to the CLEAN SETTING. If your oven is one of those that locks during this, find some way to psych it out."

How the hell? I've tried everything. My oven may as well be a bank vault during self-cleaning.

catbird (#3,124)

You can also save yourself 11 steps and buy freshly-made dough from Whole Foods for 3 bucks.

(I'm fully prepared for the epicurinazis to swoop down on me for saying that, but give me a break. Ain't like I'm talking about fuckin' Chef Boyardee– I'm sure Whole Foods uses some kind of organic, free-range, steroid-free flour and shit… it's freshly made, it tastes totally fine, and ain't a damn thing wrong with it. $3 to save 11 steps. Totally worth it.)

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