Pizza ordeal

My latest project was pizza.  I absolutely LOVE pizza.  And I now have newfound respect for all the people who have made those delicious pizzas I have eaten in my life.  The process of making pizza dough was similar to making bread dough.  And just like bread dough, pizza dough is very sticky.  And the recipe says to use a “lightly floured” work surface.  I really do not see how that is possible.

While the dough was rising, I had to chop the tomatoes.  In case you don’t know, I’m not a fan of tomatoes.  I’ll eat it in spaghetti or if it has been cooked and is on top of pizza.  But in general, I don’t eat tomatoes.  Thus, I don’t know how to cut and dice a tomato.  There’s all this goop inside with the seeds.   One more reason for me to dislike tomatoes.  Then I put a generous amount of cornmeal onto my pizza peel so that it would be ready to go.  I had learned from my bread experience how important it is to use lots of cornmeal.

Anyways, after about two hours, the pizza dough had risen.  I split the dough into three parts and took one part to make it into my pizza crust.  The recipe tells me to form it into a ball, smash it flat, and then stretch out the dough into a 12-inch circle.  They make it sound so simple.  The reality is that the dough was sticking like crazy to my fingers and the counter because I was trying to use a “lightly floured” work surface.  On top of that, I could not get it into a proper circular shape.  Finally, when the dough seemed somewhat circular, I put on the toppings of olive oil, diced tomatoes, and sliced mozzarella cheese.  When I was about to try sliding the pizza onto the pizza peel, I came to the realization that perhaps I should have moved the pizza dough onto the peel before I had weighed it down with all the toppings.  So of course, the pizza refused to slide onto the peel and instead, the dough just started tearing in various parts.  It was becoming very messy and there were holes everywhere in the dough.  I was left with no choice.  I had to use one of the other dough parts I had split off earlier and re-make the crust.  This time, my crust looked even less circular.  But when I was somewhat satisfied with its shape, I slid it onto the pizza peel.  Still not easy, but it made it on without much damage.  Then I put on the olive oil, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese.

But of course, the hardest part was yet to come.  I had to get the pizza from the peel onto the baking stone in the oven.  But I figured it shouldn’t be as hard as the time I made bread because I had put on a lot of cornmeal.  I was wrong.  When I tried to use a swift jerk to get the pizza off the peel onto the baking stone, all the mozzarella cheese slices went flying towards one end of the pizza, almost completely off the pizza.  I jerked the pizza peel again, this time also using a rubber spatula to push the pizza onto the baking stone.  In one sense I was successful because the pizza did end up on the baking stone.  However, half the mozzarella slices were on the baking stone and not the pizza.  And the dough had landed on the baking stone wrinkled and definitely not circular in shape.  Halfway though baking, I added the torn basil leaves.  Then when the pizza was done, I was grateful to find that it was very easy to get the pizza from the baking stone back onto the peel.

I am happy to say that I liked the taste of the pizza, tomatoes and all.

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