“Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got.
Taking a break from all your worries sure would help a lot.”
Lately it seems like there are things stressing me out everywhere I look. I can’t turn on the news because the stories on bullies, crazy clowns and election antics keep freaking me out. (Some of you may think that sentence was redundant but I was talking about 3 different topics.)
I see why people drink. (I don’t…maybe one mimosa a year…but that is about it.) Before you think I’m going to tell tales about my beer drinking days in a little bar called Cheers in Boston (I love TV theme songs), I am really going to talk about stress relief in the kitchen.
Normally, I would suggest chopping stuff up when you are exhausted with the world but folks that can get dangerous. I mean….being exasperated with a knife in your hand? That can’t be a good scenario.
The best way to work your worries away is to make homemade dough…in this case….pizza dough! (And because people saw my last post on Urban Accent pizza sauces and have asked me for a good dough recipe!)
There is something therapeutic about first smelling the yeast, twirling all the flour and water into dough and then kneading the hell out of it with all your might until you hear it scream for mercy and you can feel your knuckles bringing the gluten to its knees!!! (Sorry….I got carried away there.)
There are a couple keys to have a successful dough therapy session.
- Slow and steady raises the yeast. ALWAYS make sure you bloom your yeast. In your recipes amount of warm water (100-115 degrees), sprinkle your yeast on top. Let it sit about 5-10 minutes. If should look brown, creamy and foamy. If just looks like a package of yeast that sank to the bottom of the glass…start over with some new yeast.
- Take time to smell the flour. After your yeast is proven to be good, slowly add your dry ingredients. Most recipes give you a range of flour to use. Start with about half of it and gradually add more. Inhale. Can you smell the healing?
- Don’t be too kneady. Once your dough forms a nice ball and isn’t a sticky mess. Knead it for about 8-10 minutes. Turn it over and over on a floured surface but don’t beat the daylights out of it. Think of it like rubbing a pulled hamstring after you went running. (Oh wait, I’ve never done that but I did crack myself up thinking I ran. Laughter is also good therapy.)
- Hang in there. You will start to get tired and lose the therapeutic kneading effects. Now is the time you can give your dough a good poke in the belly….kind of like the Pillsbury Dough Boy. If the dough stays dimpled, you’ve got a little more work to do. If it slowly pops back into shape, you are done.
- Rise and shine. Put the dough in a slightly greased BIG bowl, cover and let it rise. An hour should be enough time for you to take some deep breaths and for your dough to rise in all its glory.
- Violence solves somethings. After your dough rises, punch it once. It should deflate and you can divide it into proportions for you pizza. (Mine was cut into 4.)
After you are done with this process, you should feel great. If you don’t, don’t worry. You just can make some pizzas and eat your stress away. (Okay…not the healthiest solution but it is cheaper than therapy!)
- 1 1/2 cups warm water (100-115 degrees)
- 1 packet of active dry yeast
- 1 Tbsp Olive Oil (use flavored olive oil if you want your crust to be herby or garlic-y)
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 1/2 – 4 cups all purpose flour
- Cornmeal to dust your pizza stone
- Sprinkle yeast over the warm water.
- Wait 5-10 minutes for yeast to dissolve and bloom.
- In electric mixer with dough hook, add about 2 cups of flour, olive oil and salt. (If you don’t have a big mixer, you can do this by hand. Have fun…you’ll be exhausted!)
- Keep adding flour in small portions until you have a ball of dough. DON’T OVER MIX IT!
- Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead for about 8-10 minutes. (It will be a little sticky but it shouldn’t cling to your fingers.)
- Wipe out your mixer bowl and grease it with just a smidge of olive oil.
- Place dough in and cover with plastic wrap.
- Set aside for 1 hour.
- Punch it down to deflate and divide into 2-4 portions. (How big do you want your pizzas?)
- Remove one portion at a time and work dough into your shape on a floured surface. (Or flip it in the air if you have that talent.)
- Oven at 400.
- Place the dough on a wooden peel or cookie sheet dusted with cornmeal. (You want it to slide off onto your baking stone.)
- Add your sauce and toppings and slide onto your cooking surface.
- Mine baked for about 15 minutes but make sure you watch them.
- (If you don’t have a pizza stone, you can bake these on a baking sheet. Just spritz it with some olive oil and go from there.)