Saturday, January 17, 2009

First, Make the Dough

A few months ago, I participated in a lengthy audition for the show, The Next Food Network Star. The "signature dish" I prepared for the camera was a pizza. Pizza sauce runs through my veins. My talented and charismatic father, one of the founders and owners of Davannis in Minnesota, taught me what it takes to make a perfect pie. I remember handling pizza dough at a very young age.

Not only did I not make it on the show, but in the months following my audition, suspiciously similar versions of the pizza that I had presented began appearing on menus and magazine covers. Coincidence? Well, yes, probably. But my ego screams, "conspiracy!" In reality, I just think that this could be the year that arugula shines (the pizza I had made for the audition included arugula with prosciutto, truffle cheese, and a pomegranate-balsamic reduction).

How to make Pizza Dough:

  • 3 cups of flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup of warm water
  • 2 + ½ tsp of yeast (or one packet)
  • About a tbsp of cornmeal (for the pizza stone)

Dissolve the sugar and yeast in ¼ cup of the warm water. In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt, and olive oil. Add the water with the yeast and sugar, and then add the remaining ¾ cup of warm water. Knead the dough until it has all come together and is elastic. If you have a stand mixer with a dough hook, bonus. Transfer the dough to a bowl lightly coated in olive oil, and cover with a clean tea towel. Keep in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about 90 minutes. Take the dough out, knead with your hands, and transfer back to the covered bowl to rise again, this time for about another hour.

To pound the dough, take a little extra flour for your hands and a clean surface, and, using the tips of your fingers, play the dough like it’s a piano and you are Jerry Lee Lewis. Start pounding your way around the outside and work your way in, so it spreads out evenly in a circle. To make the crust, start at the top of the circle and pinch the dough between your fingers all the way around the edge, forming a little ridge. Dress to your liking, and bake at 500 degrees on a pizza stone lightly sprinkled with cornmeal for about 8-10 minutes, until edges brown.

Disclaimer: I vouch for this pizza dough. It is good stuff. But I did not just divulge the recipe for Davannis' dough. For an authentic Davannis pizza, you'll have to visit the Twin Cities. It's quite lovely there in the summer. Winter is lovely, too, but don't forget to pack your Uggs. They've been sported by many a Minnesotan, loooong before they hit Hollywood.

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