I was going to make short ribs for dinner the other night, but I'd dawdled too long and ended up without enough time. I did have the makings for pizza, though, and decided to give it yet another go. My husband was on the computer (where my various pizza dough recipes are stored) so I decided to wing it. Wouldn't you know, it was absolutely perfect. We're NY style crust fans - no easy task to even attempt to duplicate when you don't even have a self-cleaning oven which you can disable to get higher temps so I heated my pizza stone as usual, in a 500 degree oven for an hour or so.
I just sort of combined the "right" ingredients in no real particular amounts. A little more than a tablespoon of "bread machine yeast" - which is just regular rapid-rise yeast in a big jar - some sugar, some salt, some vital wheat gluten and about a half cup of flour into about 2 1/4 cups of water and let it "get to work" while I prepped my workspace for kneading in more flour. Who knows how much I stirred and then kneaded in - I just worked it until it felt right. Could've been 4 cups of flour overall, could've been 6. No idea.
The only thing I know I did differently this time was that when I turned my dough into an oiled bowl, I splashed "too much" olive oil into the bowl, and didn't bother to wipe it out - there was probably 1/4 cup of oil in the bowl, enough to form a little ring of oil around my dough.
I made sauce while the dough rose to double, let my 9yo punch it down and divide it into four pieces, then got into the groove of making three pizzas (about 14 inches each) and a sausage/ricotta/mozzarella/parmesean calzone.
The calzone was exquisite. My husband is from NY (born & raised in Brooklyn and then later to the mid-Hudson valley region) and I lived there for several years as well, so when I say that, I *do* know what a calzone "should" be. LOL
Ditto for the crusts on the pizzas. Amazing. So thin and toothsome and perfectly blistered here and there... My kids, who have suffered through several attempts at NYstyle pizza, were like "ohhh, so THIS is what it's supposed to taste like!" Our family of five tore through those three pizzas and calzone.
What're the odds I'll ever be able to replicate? I mean, I've meticulously followed recipes that insisted I weigh my flour. I've followed recipes that insisted I let my dough rise slowly overnight. Recipes down to the exact amount of everything and they've just never been quite right... and by winging it I pull off whisper-thin pizza crust which still manages to (just almost - you did have to fold it a little) stand up to Italian sausage, pepperoni and mushrooms and a gloriously almost-fluffy calzone.
Don't you love/hate those kinds of meals?
What are you constantly trying to perfect by scouring the internet for the "perfect" recipe? Have you ever decided to wing it instead?
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