I Knead a Pizza
“You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I'm not hungry enough to eat six.” - Yogi Berra
“Yes, that will be all. No thank you. I don’t need bread sticks or soda.” As I punched the disconnect button on the cell, I paused for a moment to think about the soon to arrive pizza. Over the past few years, I’ve tweaked my food choices in a number of ways. I cook more often so I am in control of the ingredients, read labels, eat less fast food, and make better choices in restaurants. But when the urge for pizza strikes, I continue to automatically punch the phone number so conveniently entered into my cell. Not a very mindful eating thing to do. So what's a pizza lover to do?
The sodium content alone for a typical delivery pizza should have made me reconsider my devotion to delivery. I've got awesomely easy and delicious recipes for sauce and pizza crust, so I plugged the ingredients into the Calorie Count analysis and discovered that my pizza has less calories, sodium, and fat than delivery! The nutrition links for each step - crust, sauce, and my usual toppings are with the recipes at the The Mindful Palate.
Have you ever made a homemade pizza? Even if you are not set up to mess about in the kitchen with flour and yeast, there are still lots of good options for you. Frozen bread dough, both whole wheat and white, sit in freezer cases of stores everywhere just waiting for you to thaw it, shape it, top it, and bake it. Only have a toaster oven? No problem; make great pizza in a few minutes in pre-made pizza shells, whole wheat muffins, or flat bread. Following a low carb way of eating? You still have pizza crust options! Try making your dough out of flax meal. Here's a link to an about.com flax crust recipe. Or try the fantastic cauliflower pizza dough in the recipe list below.
If you do have a couple hours to spare, making traditional dough is tremendously messy, fun, and the tastiest of all the options. Don’t be afraid of kneading it’s really quite simple, can be a terrific stress reliever, and it is nearly impossible to over knead by hand.
Things you knead to remember:
- Keep the bag of flour and a measuring cup handy. Sprinkle the dough and the kneading surface liberally when things get sticky. Sticky means the dough does not have enough flour, so add a bit at a time until it is not sticky.
- If you like to be precise for calories, keep track of the amount of flour used in kneading, and should it exceed the amount requested by the recipe, simply create a new recipe analysis for it on Calorie Count! Or, better still, use a recipe that weighs the flour instead of one that uses cups. That is the only way to make sure your calorie count is right on the money as measured flour tends to pack and the amount used will be different every time!
- For the most efficient kneading and the most awesome crust texture, use the weight of your body, push the dough with the heal of your hands, fold the dough in half, turn a bit, repeat – depending on the type of bread recipe this can go on for 3-20 minutes. For my pizza dough, you will need to knead for 8-10 minutes.
- Add flour in less liberal quantities as you continue to knead until the dough is no longer sticky, smooth and is noticeably firmer. It's fun to feel the consistency change as you knead.
- Test to see if the kneading is complete by poking a hole in the dough with your finger; if it springs back up your kneading is done. Or try pinching a piece – if it has the smooth consistency of an earlobe it’s done. Either method is fine. I prefer pinching; maybe that's because it seems more Italian and befitting of pizza dough.
- Make your favorite homemade pizza dough on any day that is convenient for you, shape into rounds, wrap in plastic, and freeze! When you decide it's pizza night all you have to do is take it out of the freezer in the morning and thaw in the fridge for a better than delivery dinner.
Why knead so much? Yeast dough needs the gases evenly distributed so the dough will rise correctly. Kneading also encourages the development of gluten – that’s the stuff that will make the dough springy and create a marvelous texture in your crust.
This Traditional Pizza Crust is my go-to crust. Make it in a couple hours the way my Italian Aunt-in-law taught me!
You'll need some great sauce for your fantastic crust; this pizza sauce is easy to make, and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week for quick pizza making at any time.
Many thanks to Benny and Jamie for contributing their recipes for this newsletter! Count your calories, watch your sodium, and enjoy one or two delicious slices of pizza with a large crispy colorful salad or a big bowl of minestrone soup. It's deliciously easy with your friends here at Calorie Count.
Have you ever made a pizza from scratch? Are you a dough pincher or poker? Do you avoid pizza because it is too high in calories, fat, or sodium or do you just change your pizza thinking? What are your favorite toppings? Have you tried using fresh mozzarella? Do you prefer to use a pizza stone or baking sheet or grilling? What flour do you prefer - white, whole wheat, other, or blend? I wonder how many calories are burned in a good 10 minute kneading session, does anyone know? This article may be reprinted (including bio) with prior permission from the author.