I haven’t had too much trouble with baking things since we moved to high altitude. Boiling beans, that’s another story, but at least in terms of baking, I didn’t notice much of a difference. The only thing that has caused a problem so far is pizza crust. The kind I used to make back at sea level just didn’t work a mile in the sky. The first time I tried it, it was doughy and gross. It might have worked if I’d just baked it longer, but a quick Google search yielded another recipe that was delicious and turned out perfect every time. The major drawback to it was that it took forever to make, what with the mixing and the kneading, and the several rounds of rising. Something you kind of have to reserve for special occasions.
I decided to make it again the other night near the end of Will’s spring break. The recipe makes two pizzas, they freeze well, and Will likes to take a slice in his lunch. I thought it would be nice to have a stock of pizza in the freezer for those days when I can come up with nothing else to put in Will’s lunch sack.
Unfortunately, when I went to the bookmarked website with the delicious pizza dough, it was gone. Just gone. The recipe had vanished. I looked around for something similar but really couldn’t find anything that seemed as good. So I did my best to re-create the recipe. This is what I came up with (it takes about 1.5 to 2 hours from start to finish):
2 packets yeast
2 tsp sugar
2 cups warm water (110 degrees)
Mix yeast with sugar and warm water in a large bowl. (The water needs to be the around the right temperature or it won’t work). Let sit for approx. 10 minutes. The yeast mixture will get foamy. (If it doesn’t then you know you have a problem).
5-1/2 cups flour (plus more for kneading)
3 teaspoons sea salt
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 tablespoons agave nectar
Add the salt, olive oil, agave, and half the flour to the bowl of foamy yeast. With dough hook attachment on mixer, mix for 2-3 minutes (i.e, until everything is well incorporated). Then add the remaining flour and mix for another 5-7 minutes. My mixer starts making a high pitched squealing sound after the first 30 seconds, so, this is fun.
(Actually no, it is annoying, and I should probably get a new mixer).
When everything is all mixed up, take the dough out of the bowl. It will be a little bit shiny and sticky. Put it onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes.
Put the dough into a greased bowl. Cover with a cloth or piece of saran. Let rise for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, punch dough down and divide in half (I use a serrated bread knife to do the dividing). Cover again, this time with the cloth or saran separating the two halves. Let rise for another 10 minutes.
While it is rising, pre-heat oven to 425 (all the internet says 450, but I’ve had many experiences of the smoke detector going off if the oven is too hot, so I’ve calculated that 425 is about the limit) and prepare whatever veggies you are using.
After the final 10 minutes of rising, take out one of the halves and roll into a circle with a rolling pin on a floured surface. This makes for a fairly thick crust.
Sprinkle cornmeal on a pizza stone. Put the crust on the stone, top with sauce and whatever you like (I put on Dayia mozzarella, onions, peppers, mushrooms, and kalamata olives).
Bake for around 22 minutes (but you should start checking at around 18 minutes, just in case).
While the first pizza is baking, I roll out and prepare the other pizza. Because I only have 1 pizza stone, I bake them one at a time. I should probably just get another pizza stone—the second crust continues rising while the first crust is baking, so it always ends up a little bit more “deep dish” than the other. I think you can freeze the dough as well (after the 30 minute rise, I would guess), but I prefer to just make a lot of pizza at a time and freeze what we don’t eat right away. I wrap individual slices in foil before putting them in the freezer, and I can seriously just take out one of the foil wrapped pieces in the morning, put it in Will’s lunch sack, and he is perfectly happy to eat it at lunch time.
Thanks for reading.