I have struggled these last few weeks to write this post. Not because pizza dough is scary. Nothing like that. More because I’m intimidated by writing this opening paragraph. I usually relay some recent interaction about the family, defaulting quickly to complaints about the Gearhead. I could do that hear today – there’s never any shortage of material – but the writing should hold an elegant balance between entertainment and cynicism. The last few weeks have weighed heavily on the morbid side of the seesaw, and it’s for you, dear reader, I hold myself back. Or, at least that’s my excuse. Plus I was hit sideways by a dreadful cold.
It’s the end of March. It snows outside.
Work colleagues compliment the blue silk scarf I’m wearing. They say it goes beautifully with my eyes. I smile and reply that the scarf makes it easier to string myself up. Their stunned silence and wide-eyed horror confirms that it’s probably too taboo to make jokes about suicide.
I host a birthday party for five 13 year old girls, trying to smile through my runny nose and throat of fire. I look like a snot covered grim reaper. I keep throwing candy at them so they won’t notice. It works.
It snows again.
One too many complaints to the Gearhead and he threatens to move to the barn. I consider this a viable option. Outwardly, I question him [wife edits: whine at him], just for the sake of playing the gearhead’s wife, about whether or not that’s really what he wants, to move out and leave us all. Stranded!!! His laconic reply, “If you haven’t noticed, I am a man of action.” His continued presence is duly noted. His reply makes me laugh. Because it’s true.
It’s the beginning of April. It snows outside.
I note that child number 2 is remarkably adept at filling her social schedule – she’s never around – even arranging other people’s parents to pick her up for her play dates. I waffle between pride and worry.
I won’t insult your intelligence with a thinly disguised segue to a pizza dough recipe. Any analogy to it’s inedible rawness, it’s elasticity, it’s flexibility, how it’s necessary to push and pull it into shape, how it bakes up into satisfying, crunchy, bubbly deliciousness, is just too obvious. Quite simply, pizza is the Gearhead’s favourite.
It’s raining out this morning. Everything is a soggy cement gray. But the birds sing beautifully. The hills are alive with the sound of music.
2 teaspoons (10 grams) dry instant yeast
1 teaspoon (5 grams) kosher salt
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (honey
1 tablespoon (15 ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 – 1 ½ (350ml) cups warm water
2 cups (480 g) all purpose white flour
1 cup (240g) spelt flour
In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the yeast, salt, honey, olive oil with 1 cup warm water (just warmer than hand temperature), mixing well. Allow it to sit for 10 minutes to proof and get bubbly.
In the bowl of a standing mixer (or large bowl if mixing by hand), combine the flours. Using a dough hook, and with the mixer running on low speed, gradually add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture. The dough should start to come together – if it is too dry, gradually dribble in extra water until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. If it’s too sticky sprinkle flour over the dough. You want to get the dough to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Once the consistency is correct, knead (either by hand or with the dough hook) for about 5 minutes, or until the dough is springy, smooth and elastic. Remove the bowl from the mixer, dribble a bit of olive oil over the dough, turning the dough ball in the bowl to coat it. Cover with a clean, damp kitchen towel and let rise until doubled in size, about an hour or so.
Preheat the oven to 425 F (220 C). If you are using a pizza stone, preheat the stone in the oven. Divide the dough into 4 balls for 4 smaller pizzas (or use as one large pizza). I usually don’t bother with a rolling pin, but use my hands to flatten the balls into disks, finishing them by gently pulling the dough into a flat disc (ish) shape on an oiled cookie sheet pan (two pizzas should fit on one pan). Top with your toppings of choice. Bake until the edges of the pizza are golden and crispy, about 15-20 minutes.