Puck Pizza Dough

… Wolfgang Puck that is.

(Excuse the phone-cam picture and the painter’s-tape drawer-pulls)

Here’s a basic pizza dough recipe (supposedly) from the eminent and eponymous chef, done Niki style; done without fancy machines or, well, any experience whatsoever. Unless of course, you count a mere two days of making and experimenting with dough an adequate demarcation of experience.

INGREDIENTS/EQUIPMENT:
1 package Dry Active Yeast; or, 2.25 tsps
1 tsp Honey
1 cup Warm Water; I’ve heard tell of a perfect and very small temperature range that does not scald and invariably kill the yeast. However, I just put the kettle on, filled to maximum, for a minute or two. The water seems to be at the correct temperature when the kettle is hot to the touch but doesn’t scold your hand.
3 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp Kosher Salt
1 Tbsp Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

1 Spatula
1 Clean and Damp Kitchen Towel
Ample Counter Space

PREPARATION INSTRUCTIONS:
(give yourself a good 45mins to 1hr for prep and standing/rising)
(And here is where I differ from the purported Mr. Puck)

Dissolve the yeast in a quarter cup of water; add the honey and stir until dissolved with the water and yeast.

In a sturdy mixing bowl combine the flour and kosher salt and mix thoroughly. Drizzle the olive oil over the flour and pour in the yeast and honey water followed by the remaining 3 quarters of a cup of warm water.

At this point you apparently need a mixer with a dough hook; fuck that. All I had at hand was a spatula (the mixing bowl and scraping kind, usually used for baking, with a rubber or silicone end rather than the kind for cooking and flipping in a pan or on a grill). It’s no dough hook but where there is a will, there’s a way.

Mix everything up until it gets sticky and most of the flour is wet, then move on to stirring in circular motions. Once the flour around the side of the bowl is mostly absorbed into your dough ball start folding it with the spatula to get the excess flour absorbed, most likely at the bottom. Keep folding until the dough begins to get somewhat consistent throughout.

Remove the dough ball from the mixing bowl and place it on a clean and dry surface for kneading. You will need to knead the dough for several minutes: 4 to 7 seems to do the trick. Without a dough hook and mixer, ample kneading time is required to make the dough consistent throughout.

Finally, form the dough into a nice big ball and flour the bottom. Put it on a plate and cover it with a damp cloth. Let stand in a warm place for roughly half an hour. The dough should expand and feel much lighter. It should also become quite elastic once it is ready to be stretched and cooked.

BASIC COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

If you like thick-crust pizza I hope an errant child puts gum in your hair. You will be forced to walk around in shame with a bald spot on your head from where the gum was excised by way of scissor or clipper.

If you occur in the land of good taste your pizza will be thin of crust and crisp of dough. In such an instance you will need to stretch, ply, roll and otherwise mould your crust into a perfectly thin membrane just the size of whatever you choose to use as a baking sheet. Pizza stones are apparently great but I don’t have one. Thusly, brush your stretched dough with extra-virgin olive oil, give it a light peppering if you wish, and put it in a very hot oven preheated on bake. Switch the oven setting over to broil once the dough is in and cook until it starts to bubble and go a light golden brown. This goes quickly so heaven help you if you walk away from your oven or even so much as haven’t laid out your oven mits at the ready.

Top it as desired and cook further: until the edges go a dark brown.

Serve HOT, usually with a smattering of fresh baby arugala on top or beside.

ACHTUNG!:
To make a pizza the size of a standard cookie sheet you will only need about half of the dough that you just made. This allows you to make two pizzas with different topping selections. However, if you only require one pizza, lightly flour the excess dough, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Refrigerated dough will last at least a day so you can prepare dough before expected guests or make mini pizzas the next day for lunch, and etcetera. Be sure to remove the dough from the fridge with ample time for it to sit and warm. I recommend kneading the dough once out of the fridge to get the warming process going and to reactivate the yeast before you let it stand under a wet towel (in a warm place) for at least half an hour. Again, until it begins to expand and become nice and elastic.

Niki, out.

Postscriptum: topping recipes to follow. Also, do not use wholewheat, gluten-free, or any flour other than all-purpose WHITE to make pizza dough. I will hunt you down.

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