Pizza dough and questions about woodruff

victoria —  September 17, 2004 — Leave a comment

The boychick’s pizza making went well, though he acted more as executive chef than line cook. He read through the recipe and measured things while I grated cheese and all that good stuff. It turned into a lesson on dough making and why things work the way they do. Not a bad way to spend the evening, though I was worried about Keifel flying back in the rain.

The pizza dough:

1/2 to 3/4 C warm water (105-115 degrees Fahrenheit)
1 Tablespoon dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Combine 1/4 cup of the warm water with the yeast and sugar. Let stand to bloom, about 5 minutes. Tip the flour, oil, and salt into a food processor fitted with the metal blade (or dough blade if yours has one) and whirl about 5 seconds. Add the yeast mixture and process about 10 seconds or until combined. Turn on the processor and drizzle enough of the remaining water through the feed tube so the dough ball cleans the side of the bowl. Then process so the dough ball makes about 25 whirls around the bowl. Place the dough ball in a lightly buttered or oiled bowl, cover with a towel and let stand 10 minutes while you prep whatever toppings you’d like on your pizza. Pat, roll or pull the dough out to about a 10″ circle on a sheet pan or pizza stone dusted with a little cornmeal. Slather with sauce and toppings and bake 15-20 minutes.

This dough doesn’t rise long enough to develop much flavor. I have experimented with using bread flour (works even better) and some whole wheat (gives it a little nuttier flavor which is nice with white pizzas). If you are planning ahead, the best flavor for the dough will come from making the dough the night before and letting it slow proof in the fridge. You can spray a gallon-sized Ziploc-style bag with cooking spray and drop it in there from the processor. You can also of course make this without the food processor with a big wooden spoon and about 8 minutes of hand kneading.


On Woodruff

I mentioned that my dad’s long version chili contained woodruff. Luna Moon writes:

I also wanted to ask you about woodruff. My friends and I have run across recipes for “May Wine” that include woodruff. We’ve never heard of this! Is it an herb? Do you know where one might purchase woodruff? Thanks!

Woodruff is a spreading plant with small white flowers often used as a ground cover. Its leaves have been used for centuries to flavor drinks. The bruised leaves give off the sweet smell of newly mown hay. In May wine or maibowle it is used fresh, as opposed to the dried woodruff in the chili recipe.

Small plants can be purchased at nurseries, especially those specializing in herbs. Make sure these are for culinary use and haven’t been sprayed with something nasty. Also, some highend groceries may carry it in season in the spring. Dried woodruff may be purchased at some health food stores or occult suppliers. Sadly, all occult suppliers are not on the up and up and you be buying something entirely other and potentially toxic so I would stick with the dried bulk herbs at the health food store.

Maibowle (adapted from the Women’s Day Encyclopedia of Cookery)

2 bunches fresh woodruff
1/2 cup super fine sugar, or to taste*
1/2 cup brandy
3 bottles Moselle or Rhine wine
1 bottle champagne
1/2 cup fresh strawberries, washed well w/ caps on

Wash woodruff and spin dry in a salad spinner. Place in a deep, non-reactive bowl with the sugar, brandy and one bottle of the wine; cover and let stand overnight at room temperature. Strain the mixture through a sieve lined with one of two layers of cheesecloth. Pour the mixture over ice in a punchbowl. Add remaining wine and the champagne. Float the strawberries in the bowl for effect.

For a non-alcoholic version omit the sugar and brandy, substitute white grape juice for the wine and sparkling apple juice or white grape juice for the champagne.

*If you can’t fine superfine sugar in your area, just blitz some granulated sugar in the blender or food processor for a few seconds, you don’t need to powder it. Also, don’t substitute powdered or confectioner’s sugar as some brands contain anti-caking agents which will make the wine cloudy.



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