Monday, October 15, 2012

Warning – This post is not really about El Salvador; it’s about something that happens in my kitchen on a weekly basis, and could happen in yours if you let it.

  Pizza is not Salvadoran.  It’s true that Pizza Hut is quite popular with Salvadorans and there are many restaurants that include pizza on their menu.  Throughout our time here I’ve sought to find the best pizza place in San Salvador (see I HEART Pizza), and there are still a few places on my list that I’ve yet to try.  When I’m not eating pizza out, I like to make a simple pizza at home. 
  On my recent trip to California, I stopped in at Ponsford Bakery in San Rafael.  In addition to buying some amazing pastries, I bought some whole-wheat flour to bring back with me in my suitcase.  You CAN get whole-wheat flour in San Salvador though you really have to seek it out.  One wise expatriot suggested that I just add afrecho (bran) to white flour for the whole-wheat effect.  It’s not quite the same, but it’s easier to find in stores and does the trick.

  Here I share with you a simple healthy pizza dough recipe that you can easily replicate in your home, wherever that may be.  Buen provecho!

  • 3 cups flour - whatever combination you like best.  Mostly white?  Mostly whole-wheat?  A little afrecho? 
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon dry active yeast
  • 2-3 Tablespoons honey or sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • ¼ cup olive or vegetable oil
Note: The only thing I truly measure when making this is the flour and water.  Everything else is based on a pinch and a splash.  The message for you is “adjust as you see fit”.

  Combine lukewarm water, sugar, and yeast in a bowl.  Let sit for 5-10 minutes.  Add oil, salt, and one cup flour and mix.  Add one more cup flour and mix.  Add the remaining cup of flour, mix in bowl, then knead on counter or table until the dough has a smooth consistency.
  I like to make my dough early in the day, so I put the dough in the fridge, covering it with a plastic bag so it won’t dry out.  About an hour before I’m ready to cook the pizza, I take the dough out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature.  Depending on the size of your pans and how thick you want your pizza crust, separate the dough as necessary (i.e. if you have two pans, divide dough into two balls).  Knead the dough briefly and let it rest on the counter.  You can add oil or flour to do so, depending on the consistency of the dough.  Lightly oil the pans.  After about 10 minutes, spread the dough out to fit the pan.  You can use a rolling pin or wine bottle.  I like to use my hands.  Let the dough rest another 10 minutes.  Spread out as necessary into pan, then add toppings.  Bake on the bottom shelf in a preheated 450 degree oven for about 20 minutes, until golden on the bottom and a little toasty on the top.  Much more satisfying than Pizza Hut!

Some of my favorite combinations are:

  • Fresh ricotta (La Lucania), thinly sliced zucchini, and chili flakes
  • Bell pepper, mushrooms, black olives, tomato sauce and mozzarella
  • Red onion, cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, and whatever combination of cheese I happen to have in the fridge

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