It occurred to me midway through making this recipe that I might want to share it with you, so forgive the lack of process pictures. Not that you can’t deal with the fact that you’re missing a picture of yeast. In ACTION! Life doesn’t GET much more exciting than that, does it, reader? Organisms eating sugar and expelling gas! Science! Bill Nye! Mr. Wizard! Rock Candy! Geodes! Stalagmite, stalactite!
Now that free association science word time is over, let’s talk about pizza dough. So, hi, I live in San Francisco. There are several decent pizza places here (east coasters, please quiet your rages for like ONE MOMENT while I explain what that means), and few of those serve what this Long-Island-born-and-bred girl would call “New York pizza.” That being said, I’m no New York pizza purist. When I lived in Eugene I used to frequent this place called the Pizza Research Institute, and they put potatoes on their pizza. And canned peaches. And ricotta. And asparagus. All at once! Because they were god damned dirty hippies with no respect for the traditions of gruff accent-heavy Italians from Brooklyn. Here in San Francisco, the burrito has replaced pizza as my quick, cheap, go-to meal. Pizza here is more of a gourmet event, as only San Francisco would have it. Slightly snobby, yet in actuality quite tasty, still rarely worth the money, too-crowded and after a period of exaltation on Yelp, a slow steady stream of hipster criticism until the place has become passe, and why would you go there, don’t you know about this little hole in the wall with no store sign out front run by a couple of foreigners, but I swear they got their recipe from some old Italian dude in Brooklyn and they play Pakistani music in there and it’s kind of divey but it’s AUTHENTIC, you know?
So it’s not like there is a dearth of pizza in San Francisco, not by any means. But all those gourmet places, and even some of the hole-in-the-walls, they don’t produce anything that I can’t make at home. There, I said it. I’m no Italian. Not even close. Not even one blonde hair of mine ever whiffed the air in Italy (and in fact, my grandfather has a lifelong ban on Italian food–he won’t touch the stuff ever since Italy beat out Finland for the agricultural seat of Europe [shocker, what with all the NOT GROWING of vegetables Finland does]), but I have in my possession the following items: instant yeast, water, sugar, salt, and flour. So pizza dough is like, within my grasp.
So on Saturday when I decided to walk from my house across the Golden Gate Bridge and back (a cool 15 miler), after I stopped at a pizza joint on the way home, my craving was not yet satisfied, and as soon as I stepped in the door I mixed together the small amount of ingredients that constitute nearly all pizza doughs. Because pizza dough? It’s easy. Sure, according to most New Yorkers I’ll never be able to create authentic pizza, because of some lack of something in the water, or some sort of natural yeast that is present only in any one of the 5 boroughs. But, here on the West Coast, where I can travel 20 minutes and be in the wilderness, where my morning run takes me through one of the largest urban parks in the US, where I’m 15 minutes from a surfing beach, where In-N-Out exists, where the farmer’s market is open all year round, here where I live…well, that doesn’t really bother me at all.
And with a nominal amount of mixing, a short period of rising, and minimal fuss, I can have homemade pizza dough with whatever toppings I damn well please, which in this case is pancetta, spring onion, spinach, and mozzarella. It’s not Tony’s Pizza, but it’s pizza, and fuck-all it’s good.
Perfect Pizza Dough
from the Bread Bible