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Time Value of Pizza

Aug 25 2002

Two and a half hours of baking, broken down into the timing for each task, would go something like this:

  1. Looking for the yeast: 5 minutes. Is the yeast in the freezer? Or in that corner on the middle shelf in the fridge? Or in the lower back corner? After some searching, it is discovered in the refrigerator door. Optionally, there may be some pondering regarding why the word fridge has a 'd' in it, but the word refrigerator does not.
  2. Starting the yeast: 10-15 minutes. This is the part where you take 1 1/2 cups of lukewarm water and combine it with 1 Tbsp of yeast and a pinch of flower and sugar for it to feed on. It doesn't take more than 3 minutes, but then you're supposed to wait for it to activate and multiply. So meanwhile, you can be involved in...
  3. Looking for tomato sauce ingredients: 5-10 minutes. Fretting over another task, or checking your email can be involved, but at some point, you have to wonder when tomato sauce was last purchased. Then recall that recently you have just been mashing up canned tomatoes and boiling them, maybe adding some tomato puree or paste later, so just find a large can of the whole tomatoes and dump it in a pot, turning the range on "low". Add a small can of tomato paste.
  4. Begin mixing of dough: 5 minutes. You are fortunate if you are in possession of a working food processor, with a mixing hook. Start that going in the yeast-water, add 1 cup of flour, 4 Tbsp of oil, 1 Tbsp of salt, and experiment with adding your favorite Italian herb at this point. Basil is good. My sister grows basil in her bedroom. Leave the mixer going.
  5. More attention to the sauce: 5-10 minutes. Mash the tomatoes somewhat, and stir. Add basil, then just raid the spice rack and dump in oregano, garlic salt, onion powder. Then add some italian seasoning, even though you just did. Add only one Tbsp of salt, cautiously because of the time you made ice cream and realized that 1 Tbsp of salt was way too much. Stir.
  6. More attention to the dough: 5-10 minutes. Gradually add another 3-4 cups of flower and let the bread hook stir it in. Add some lemon juice, just a bit, and maybe parmesan cheese or something. Let that bread hook work.
  7. More attention to the sauce: 5-10 minutes. Taste the sauce, realize it needs more salt. Add 1 more Tbsp. Taste again, and then add 1 more Tbsp... the acidity of the tomatoes can balance an awful lot of salt. Add 1 Tbsp of olive oil and ranch dressing, too. At this point, it's pretty good stuff, and you should taste a few more spoonfuls.
  8. More attention to the dough: 5-10 minutes. Stick a pie tin full of water into the oven, turn it on warm, then turn to the dough. Automated labor is over at this point. Dust hands with flour and pick up the the mass, knead slightly and break into three roughly equal parts. Put each mass on something in the oven and engage in...
  9. Waiting for the dough to rise: 10-15 minutes. You can wash the mixing bowl and lay out toppings at this point while you're waiting, and greet guests who you've neglected, and answer questions about when the pizza will be done from the other hosts.
  10. Shaping crusts: 5-10 minutes each. Mainly involves dusting crusts with cornmeal and rolling them flat, then pinching sides together. The oven is heated to 375-450 or something.
  11. Doing the single-oven multi-pizza shuffle: 15-20 minutes per pizza. Each crust is baked a bit before being topped, about 5 minutes, and then brought out to be sauced, subjected to various toppings according to prefferences of guests, then cheesed, and put in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, when cheese not only melts but actually bubbles. The neat part is when you start overlapping pizzas, baking the next crust while the one just removed from the oven is being topped, then taking out the baked crust and throwing in the topped crust, then taking out the complete pizza and throwing in the next crust, and then cutting the pizza, placing each hot slice on a serving plate.
  12. Cleaning up: 15-20 minutes. Whether or not you collapse on the couch and leave the guests and other hosts to clean up, or whether you are actually involved.

Makes 3 pizzas in 2-3 hours, serves and entertains approximately 10, tires 1-2, and in the future, despite the fact that the homemade pizza was really really good, will likely provide Papa Murphy's or Domino's with more business, and perhaps even a fat tip.

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