Posts Tagged ‘dough’

Although I have made pies in the past, meringue pie was a new venture for me with this episode. I don’t have anything against meringue pies, though I suppose I probably prefer a good double-crusted fruit pie. Having made Alton’s pecan pie last Thanksgiving, I was pretty confident that Alton’s lemon meringue pie would be spectacular. He broke his pie recipe into two parts, the first being the crust.

Pie Crust

Alton’s pie crust calls for both butter and lard, with the butter primarily providing flavor and the lard ensuring a flaky texture. The recipe starts with placing 3 oz of cubed butter in the freezer for 15 minutes, along with 1 oz of cubed lard. Also, at this time, place two pie plates in the freezer.

IMG_7639

Lard and butter, cubed and headed to the freezer.

While the fat chills, put some ice in a squirt bottle with 1/4 C water. Next, in a food processor pulse together 6 ounces of flour with 1/2 t salt.

IMG_7641

Flour and salt in the food processor.

Add the chilled butter, pulsing the mixture five or six times.

Add the cubed lard and pulse three more times.

Use the squirt bottle to thoroughly spritz the surface of the flour mixture and pulse the dough five times.

IMG_7646

Spritzing dough surface with ice water.

The dough should hold together when squeezed, which should take approximately 2 T of ice water. Continue spritzing the dough with more water until it holds together easily without crumbling. I found that I needed to spritz the dough several times.

Once the dough holds together, move the dough to a large ziplock bag, squeezing the dough into a ball, and then flattening it into a disc. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.

When the dough has chilled, remove it from the refrigerator and cut off the two sides of the ziplock bag, leaving the zipper top and the sealed bottom intact. Open the bag and flour both sides of the dough.

IMG_7660

Edges of sides of ziplock cut off, and dough floured.

Close the bag again and use a rolling pin to roll the dough until it barely reaches beyond the open edges of the bag. I love Alton’s method of rolling pie dough in a bag because it keeps my counter and rolling pin clean!

IMG_7661

Floured dough, rolled out inside of ziplock bag.

Peel back the plastic and re-flour the top of the dough.

IMG_7662

Ziplock opened and top surface re-floured.

Place one of your chilled pie pans on top of the floured dough and flip the dough onto the back of the pan.

Remove the plastic from the dough and place the second cold pie plate upside down on the dough, so the dough is between the two pie plates (the dough will be lining the second plate).

IMG_7665

Second cold pie plate placed on top of dough upside down, so dough is lining second pie plate.

Flip the pie plates again and remove the top plate (the first one), and your second pie plate will be perfectly lined with your dough; just be sure to press the dough down into the edges of the pan.

IMG_7666

Pie plates flipped over with dough between them. Dough is lining second pie plate.

Cut away any excess dough hanging over the edges. There is no need to make the dough edges fancy, as they will be covered with meringue. Use a fork to dock the bottom of the crust and place the dough in the refrigerator to cool for 10-15 minutes. This helps to form fat layers in the dough, which will yield a flaky crust.

IMG_7735

Docked dough. Excess dough removed.

While the dough chills, preheat the oven to 425. When the oven is ready, place the pie crust on a baking sheet, line it with parchment paper, and fill the crust with dried beans or pie weights. Bake the crust for 15 minutes.

IMG_7671

Crust lined with parchment and beans, and placed in oven for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, remove the parchment and beans/weights, and bake the crust for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until golden.

Let the crust cool completely before using. You could use this pie crust for any type of pie, but I had to continue on and make a lemon meringue filling, as that was what Alton did in the episode. This pie crust recipe is super easy and I love Alton’s tips/tricks for rolling the dough and lining the pie plate.

Lemon Meringue Pie

I ended up making Alton’s lemon meringue pie twice in two days. Why? My first lemon meringue pie was lemon soup. I had followed Alton’s directions exactly as he made the pie in the episode, which resulted in a filling that was not nearly thick enough. For my second pie, I cooked my filling much longer than Alton recommended and ended up with a perfect pie. Here, I’ll go through the steps as Alton did them, giving my recommended changes along the way. The lemon meringue pie begins with making the meringue. Place 4 egg whites (save the yolks for the lemon filling) in the bowl of a mixer and add a pinch of cream of tartar (helps to denature proteins).

Whip the whites by hand until they are frothy.

IMG_7680

Egg whites beaten to a froth by hand.

Then, beat with the mixer on medium-high. When you have a light foam in the bowl, begin slowly adding 2 T sugar with the mixer running.

Beat the whites until you have stiff peaks. You can check for stiff peaks by quickly dipping/withdrawing your beater – if a peak forms and remains, you have stiff peaks. If a peak forms, but falls, you need to keep beating. Once you have stiff peaks, place a pan lid on the bowl and set it aside in a cool place.

Oh, and preheat your oven to 375. To make the lemon filling, whisk 4 egg yolks in a medium bowl and set them aside.

IMG_7686

Beaten egg yolks.

In a saucier whisk together 1/3 C cornstarch and 1 1/2 C water, placing it over medium heat.

IMG_7689

Cornstarch and water in saucier.

Whisk 1 1/3 C sugar and 1/4 t salt into the starch mixture. Stir this mixture often, bringing it to a boil.

Once boiling, simmer the mixture for an additional minute.

IMG_7696

Simmering starch mixture.

Remove the pan from the heat and slowly beat about half of the hot mixture into the bowl of beaten egg yolks, adding only a whisk-full at a time.

When half of the hot mixture has been added to the yolks, whisk the egg mixture back into the pan.

IMG_7700

Egg mixture whisked back into saucier.

Alton tells you to return the pan to the heat, simmering it for one minute; I did this with my first pie and the mixture was very runny, but I assumed it would thicken later. Nope. Instead, for my second pie, I cooked the mixture for about 10 minutes, until it was bubbling and quite thick. Keep in mind that the mixture will not thicken much later, so you want it to resemble your desired pie filling texture now.

Once thickened, turn off the heat and stir in 3 T butter.

IMG_7739

Butter whisked in.

When the butter has melted, add 1 T lemon zest and 1/2 C fresh lemon juice.

IMG_7744

Finished lemon filling.

Pour the filling into the baked/cooled crust.

IMG_7746

Finished lemon filling poured into cooled crust.

Working quickly, beat your meringue again for about 30 seconds to plump it up.

IMG_7748

Refreshed meringue.

Dump the meringue on the hot lemon filling, spreading it with a spatula to seal it against the crust edges. Smooth the top.

IMG_7749

Meringue, spread onto hot lemon filling.

Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake it at 375 for 10-12 minutes, or until golden. Let the pie cool completely before slicing.

IMG_7751

Meringue after baking.

IMG_7768

A slice of lemon meringue pie.

This pie was great… the second time around. Alton’s crust recipe is fool-proof, flaky, and buttery. His lemon filling has a perfect balance of tartness and sweetness, and is bursting with lemon flavor. And, his meringue came out perfectly both times I made it. If you are interested in making a lemon meringue pie, do this one, but be sure to cook your lemon filling until it is thick.

I was super stoked to find that I would be making fresh pasta in the 79th episode of Good Eats. Fresh pasta is just plain delicious. Pass the gluten, please! Last year we took a pasta class, in which we made fresh noodles using a pasta machine, so I felt comfortable with the basics of making pasta dough. I had not, however, ever tried making filled pasta. First up?

Ravioli

When making Alton’s fresh pasta, you need to plan ahead a little bit because your dough will need to rest for at least an hour, and you will want to freeze your pasta prior to cooking. For Alton’s ravioli, place a mound of flour (~3 C) on a clean work surface, making a well in the center. Combine in a measuring cup:  2 eggs, 3 T water, 1/2 t salt, and 1 t olive oil.

IMG_6150

Ready to make fresh pasta – a mound of flour and a mixture of eggs, water, salt, and olive oil.

Pour some of the liquid into the well in the flour, and begin stirring the liquid with two fingers, gradually incorporating some of the surrounding flour; use your other hand to support the “walls” of your flour mound. When you have a paste-like consistency, you can gradually add more of the liquid mixture.

Continue the process of adding liquid and stirring in flour until the liquid is all incorporated and you have a thick paste. Using your hands, knead your dough, adding more flour, until you have a smooth, non-tacky, semi-firm dough. You will likely have a fair amount of excess flour still remaining on your counter. Roll your dough into a ball, cover it in plastic, and refrigerate it for at least an hour.

IMG_6153

My finished pasta dough.

While your dough rests in the refrigerator, you can make your filling, which is Alton’s Good Eats meatloaf mix plus 3 T grated Parmesan, 1 T balsamic vinegar, and 1/2 t oregano.

Once your dough has sufficiently rested, cut it in half, setting one piece aside, covered in plastic.

IMG_6157

My dough, after resting in the refrigerator.

Shape the piece of dough you are working with into a candy bar-sized rectangle and sprinkle it with flour, passing it through a pasta machine on the widest setting.

Fold the dough in thirds, turn it 90 degrees, and pass it through again. Follow this procedure one more time, adding flour as needed, so you pass the dough through the widest setting a total of three times.

Continue passing the dough through the machine one time at each progressive setting until your dough has gone through setting #7 (If your pasta machine is like Alton’s, it will have 9 settings. My pasta machine has fewer settings, so I stopped at #4 of 6). Regardless of how many settings your pasta machine has, you want to have a final dough that is almost translucent.

Placing your long sheet of dough on a floured surface, use a teaspoon to place rounded balls of meat filling down the center of the dough sheet, spacing them two inches apart; be sure to place the balls slightly closer to one long edge of the dough, so you have enough dough to fold over the balls.

IMG_6182

Balls of meat filling placed on dough sheet.

In a small bowl, combine an egg and a little bit of water, whisking to combine. Brush this egg wash down the center of the dough right next to the meat balls. Next, brush the egg wash down the outside edge of the dough – only on the side closest to the meat. Finally, brush the egg wash between the meat balls.

IMG_6183

Egg wash painted down the center of the dough, along the left edge, and between the meat balls.

Now you are ready to form your ravioli. Using your fingers, pull the longer side of the dough over the meat filling, using your fingertips to press excess air out around each ball of meat. Press all along the edges to ensure a good seal with the egg wash.

IMG_6184

Excess dough folded over filling, and pressed to remove air bubbles.

Using a pizza cutter, cut between the mounds of filling, forming individual ravioli. Carefully press around the edges of each raviolo, ensuring that there are no leaks.

IMG_6175

Ravioli cut with a pizza wheel.

Place your ravioli on a sheet pan and freeze them for at least three hours.

IMG_6187

Ravioli in the freezer.

Once your ravioli are frozen, you can keep them frozen for later use, or you can cook them. To cook Alton’s ravioli, bring a pot of salted water to a boil, adding a dash of olive oil (to decrease surface area and prevent foaming).

IMG_6189

A pot of salted and oiled water.

Adding about 10 ravioli at a time, cook the pasta packets until they float; since the meat mixture is raw when you fill the ravioli, you may want to test one raviolo to make sure the filling is cooked.

Toss the cooked pasta in oil to prevent them from sticking together. For this pasta, Alton recommends a browned butter sauce with sage.

IMG_6193

Chopped sage for the sauce.

To make this sauce, heat a skillet over medium-high heat, adding a pat of butter.

IMG_6190

A large pat of butter for the sauce.

Let the butter cook until it starts to brown and foam. Add the ravioli, tossing them in the butter until their edges just start to brown.

IMG_6198

Cooked ravioli added to browned butter in skillet.

Finish the sauce by adding some chopped sage and black pepper.

IMG_6200

Sage and pepper added to skillet.

IMG_6201

A bowl of Alton’s meat ravioli with browned butter and sage.

So, how did Alton’s ravioli turn out? I was pretty happy with my first attempt at filled pasta, though my ravioli were certainly not picture perfect. We really enjoyed the tangy meatloaf filling in this pasta, and the texture of the pasta was great – perfectly al dente. When making fresh pasta, I think you really want the pasta to be the star of the show, and Alton’s simple brown butter sauce allowed the ravioli to shine. Making fresh pasta is a fun project and is certainly worth the effort.

Tortellini

Once I had made Alton’s ravioli, it was time to tackle his tortellini. For this recipe, Alton did not use a pasta maker, opting to make the tortellini only by hand, which makes it a bit more time-consuming. The basic dough for Alton’s tortellini is made in the same way as for the ravioli above, using a mound of ~3 C of flour and a mixture of 2 eggs, 3 T water, 1/2 t salt, and 1 t olive oil. The liquid ingredients are gradually added to the flour until a firm paste is achieved, and the resulting dough is kneaded by hand until a smooth, firm dough results.

The dough will need to rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour before the tortellini are formed.

IMG_6114

Final dough, to be refrigerated.

While the dough rests, you can make Alton’s cheese filling by combining 1/2 C ricotta cheese, 1/4 C grated Parmesan, 2 T thawed/drained frozen spinach, 1 egg, pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg.

When you are ready to form your pasta, cut your dough into four equal pieces, setting three of the pieces aside while you work with one.

Roll the piece of dough into a long, 1/2-inch thick snake. Using a pastry scraper, cut the snake into inch-long pieces, rolling each piece into a round ball.

Flatten each piece of dough into a disc, dust it with flour, and roll it out with a thin wooden dowel rod (we keep one in our kitchen window track to “lock” the window).

When you have finished rolling your dough, it should be thinner than a nickel. Next, Alton used a biscuit cutter to cut perfect dough circles, but my dough circles were round enough that I did not bother cutting them. The key with tortellini is not to overfill them, so you want to place only 1/4 t of filling in the center of each round.

IMG_6131

Filling placed in the center of the dough.

Brush one side only of each dough round with egg wash (1 egg plus a little bit of water), fold the dough over the filling, and press the edges to seal, forming a half-moon.

To form tortellini, pull the two pointed edges together below the filling, pinching them; if needed, add a little egg wash to keep the ends together.

Freeze the tortellini for three hours before cooking in salted/oiled water until they float.

IMG_6139

Formed tortellini in the freezer.

Alton did not recommend a particular sauce for his tortellini, so I served mine with a delicate tomato cream sauce with fresh basil.

IMG_6145

Alton’s tortellini with a tomato cream sauce.

We thought these were fantastic. The cheesy filling was light, the pasta had a great texture with just a little “bite,” and the light tomato sauce didn’t overwhelm the delicate filling of the pasta. Also, my tortellini were a little more aesthetically pleasing than my ravioli. Plus, hand forming each one of these babies made me appreciate them a little bit more! Both the recipes in this episode worked fantastically for my maiden voyage into fresh stuffed pasta, and I recommend them both highly.

 

Sweet or Savory Pâte à Choux

When I was in elementary school, a different kid in my class was tasked with bringing snacks for the class each week. No-bake cookies with chocolate and oats were in regular rotation because they were easy to make and most of the kids liked them. My mom usually sent me with cupcakes or other (baked) cookies. One girl’s mother scored massive points with all of the kids (and probably made all the other parents feel like slouches), as she always made homemade cream puffs.

Personally, I have never made cream puffs or eclairs… until now. Baking and pastry are definitely two of my favorite things, so I eagerly whipped up a batch of Alton’s Pâte à Choux yesterday. Pâte à Choux is a pastry dough that is designed to make pastries that can be filled; therefore, when you bake the dough, it is supposed to only form one or two large bubbles, as opposed to the numerous bubbles desired in certain breads and such. In order to create these large bubbles in the pastry, steam needs to be created. Bread flour, and especially bread flour for bread machines, is ideal for Pâte à Choux because it has the highest protein content of all flours, which allows it to absorb more liquid; more liquid equals more steam production. To make Alton’s Pâte à Choux, combine a cup of water and 6 T butter in a pan. If you are making savory dough, also add 1 t Kosher salt. Or, if you are making a sweet dough, as Alton did in the episode, add just a pinch of Kosher salt and 1 T sugar.

Bring this water/butter mixture to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, weigh out  5 3/4 ounces of bread flour. I did not have bread flour for bread machines, so just used bread flour.

When the butter has completely melted and your liquid is boiling, add all of the flour, at once, to the pan.

IMG_5968

Flour added to boiling butter/water.

Stir the flour into the liquid with a spatula until a paste forms. Decrease the heat to low and continue to stir the dough until all of the flour is incorporated and the dough is no longer sticky. Turn off the heat and transfer the dough to the bowl of a standing mixer, setting it aside until it is cool enough to touch.

While the dough cools, place four eggs and two egg whites in a measuring cup; the egg yolks will act as an emulsifier in the dough, while the whites will give the dough structure.

When the dough has sufficiently cooled, slowly add the eggs to the dough, keeping the mixer running. You want to continue adding egg until the dough hangs from the paddle attachment in a ‘V’ shape; for me, this required all of my eggs.

IMG_5978

Dough after adding all of the eggs. A perfect ‘V’ shape off of the paddle.

At this point, you can use your dough immediately, or you can let it rest at room temperature for a couple hours before using. When you are ready to use your dough, prepare a piping bag with a piping tip; Alton did not specify which tip to use, but I used one that was about 3/8″ in diameter and it worked fine. Large Ziploc bags work well for piping too – just snip off one corner, insert the inside part of the coupler, place your desired tip on top, and screw on the coupler ring.

IMG_5966

Ziploc bag turned into piping bag.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. If your parchment is sliding around, you can pipe a dollop of dough on each corner of your sheet pan, pressing the parchment down in the dough to keep it from sliding.

To make eclairs, pipe the dough into ‘S’ shapes, with the tail of each ‘S’ facing up toward you. With a wet finger, pat down the tails.

Alternatively, you can make cream puffs by piping the dough in concentric circle patterns, finishing in the center. Again, pat down any points with a wet finger.

IMG_5985

Dough, piped into concentric circles for cream puffs.

Place the eclairs (or cream puffs) in the center of the oven, increasing the temperature to 425 degrees, and setting the timer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, decrease the oven temperature to 350 degrees, and bake the eclairs for an additional 10 minutes. As soon as your eclairs/cream puffs are cool enough to handle, pierce them with a sharp paring knife to release excess steam.

IMG_5988

Piercing a hot eclair to release steam.

Cool the pastries completely.

At this point, you can bag and freeze the pastry shells for up to a month, bag and store them at room temperature for a week, or you can fill them with a filling of your choice. To do as Alton did in this episode of Good Eats, make vanilla pudding, using only 3/4 of the recommended liquid.

Then, using a small star tip and a piping bag, poke a hole in each eclair/cream puff, filling them with the pudding until the pudding starts to come out the end. Chill the filled pastries.

To bedazzle your eclairs/cream puffs with chocolate, melt 1 C chocolate chips with 1 t vegetable oil in a double boiler. Dip each pastry into the chocolate mixture. Or, you can pour your chocolate into a squeeze bottle and decorate them that way. I opted for the dipping method.

If you do not plan to eat your eclairs right away, keep them refrigerated. I made a mixture of eclairs and cream puffs, ending up with 17 eclairs and 6 cream puffs. I stuck most of my pastries in the freezer for later use, but filled several yesterday.

IMG_6003

Chocolate dipped eclairs.

I have to say that this is a great recipe. Not only are these delicious, but they are really super easy. My pastries turned out light, airy, and slightly crispy on the outside. The pastry itself was barely sweetened and each pastry had a perfect cavity inside for filling. The vanilla pudding was a super easy filling option, and the chocolate set up into a slightly crispy shell. This one is a keeper. For a different option, you could make ice cream sandwiches with cream puffs, splitting them in half. Or, you could make Alton’s savory Pâte à Choux, filling split puffs with a savory salad.

IMG_6007

A cream puff, cut in half.

Funnel Cake

So, what else can you do with Pâte à Choux? Well, you always opt for funnel cake! To make this classic carnival/fair favorite, heat ~1 inch of vegetable oil to 375 degrees.

IMG_6011

Oil, heating to 375 degrees.

Using a #12 piping tip, pipe Pâte à Choux into the hot oil in a circular pattern. Cook the pastry until it is golden brown, flip it over, and cook until the second side is golden.

Remove the pastries to a rack over a sheet pan and dust them liberally with powdered sugar.

My funnel “cakes” turned out more like funnel “straws,” but they were still quite delicious.IMG_6018 I found that the pastry was too thick for the #12 tip, though I had set my dough aside for a while. Still, my pastries were like eating little fried pillows with powdered sugar. These were definitely tasty, though not as pretty as they should be.

Pizza Pizzas

I distinctly remember watching the 36th episode of Good Eats when it originally aired. My dad and I watched the episode together in their TV room and I had a huge inkling to try Alton’s pizza recipe then and there. Fast forward, oh, 14 years and I finally got around to making his pizza last weekend. In the interim, I tried numerous homemade pizza dough recipes, finally stumbling upon a favorite a few years ago, which has been my “go-to” ever since; it is easy, fast, and produces enough dough for several pizzas. I was, therefore, skeptical that Alton’s pizza dough (or anyone else’s for that matter) could surpass the dough I regularly use. Still, though, after 14 years, I was excited to finally try that recipe I had intended to make for so long.

Ingredients for Alton's pizza crust:  sugar, Kosher salt, olive oil, instant yeast, warm water, and bread flour for bread machines.

Ingredients for Alton’s pizza crust: sugar, Kosher salt, olive oil, instant yeast, warm water, and bread flour for bread machines.

To make Alton’s Good Eats pizza, place the following ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer:  2 T sugar, 1 T Kosher salt, 1 T olive oil, 3/4 C warm water, 1 C of bread flour for bread machines, 1 t instant yeast, and one more cup of bread flour for bread machines.

Sugar

Sugar

Kosher salt

Kosher salt

Olive oil

Olive oil

Warm water

Warm water

Bread flour

Bread flour

Instant yeast

Instant yeast

More bread flour

More bread flour

Note:  instant yeast is NOT the same as active dry yeast. Instant yeast is used in this recipe because it needs no blooming in water, and therefore can be added directly to the dry ingredients. Also, you want to use bread machine flour because it has the highest protein content possible, which will result in maximal gluten development. Yes, I happen to belong to the seemingly endangered species of human who believes that gluten is, in fact, a wonderful thing. Anyway, using the paddle attachment on your mixer, start mixing on low until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the bowl.

Starting to mix with paddle attachment.

Starting to mix with paddle attachment.

Dough forming ball and pulling away from sides of bowl.

Dough forming ball and pulling away from sides of bowl.

At this point, spray your dough hook with non-stick spray and replace the paddle attachment with the hook. Allow the machine to knead the dough for 15 minutes at medium speed. Even with spraying my dough hook with non-stick spray, my dough still seemed to climb the hook, so I sprayed the hook a second time midway through the kneading.

Dough hook sprayed with non-stick spray.

Dough hook sprayed with non-stick spray.

15 minutes of kneading time by the stand mixer.

15 minutes of kneading time by the stand mixer.

Dough after 15 minutes of kneading.

Dough after 15 minutes of kneading.

After 15 minutes, tear off a small piece of dough, stretch it into a thin round, and hold it up to the light. If the dough is transparent and you can see your finger through it, your dough is ready to go; this is the windowpane test you hear about in baking.

Windowpane test.

Windowpane test.

If your dough tears, knead it longer. Once your dough has passed the windowpane test, form it into a nice, smooth ball, place it in a large bowl, add 2 t of olive oil, and toss to coat.

Dough formed into smooth ball.

Dough formed into smooth ball.

Dough in large bowl with olive oil.

Dough in large bowl with olive oil.

Tossed to coat.

Tossed to coat.

Loosely cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 18-24 hours. Allowing the dough to rise in the refrigerator results in a slower rise, which Alton says produces better flavor and more delicate structure.

Covered loosely with plastic wrap.

Covered loosely with plastic wrap.

The following day, when ready to bake, place a pizza stone or unglazed tile on the bottom of your cold oven; if you do not have coils on the bottom of your oven, you can literally place the stone on the floor of the oven and leave it there indefinitely. If you have coils on the bottom of your oven, place the stone/tile on your lowest oven rack. My pizza stone was too large to fit on the floor of my oven, so I put it on the lowest rack. Heat your oven to 500 degrees for at least 30 minutes before baking. Turn your dough onto a clean counter and cut it in half, as Alton says, “like an amoeba on a blind date.”

Dough after rising in refrigerator for ~24 hours.

Dough after rising in refrigerator for ~24 hours.

Dough turned onto counter.

Dough turned onto counter.

Dough bisected.

Dough bisected.

Mash each dough ball with the heel of your hand to get rid of any bubbles, and reshape the dough back into its original ball forms, folding the dough under itself.

Dough reformed into balls.

Dough reformed into balls.

Barely wet your hands and rub them on your work surface, placing the dough balls on top. Roll the balls with both hands, not moving your fingers, until you have very smooth dough. Set the dough aside, cover it with a tea towel, and let it rest for 30 minutes. Or, to save the dough for another day, instead of letting it rest, place it in a ziplock bag sprayed with non-stick spray and refrigerate for up to 6 days. I opted to save half of my dough for a pizza another day.

Half of dough back into refrigerator for later use.

Half of dough back into refrigerator for later use.

One of Alton’s tricks in pizza making is to build your pizza directly on your pizza peel, which is something I discovered a few years ago. Alton uses a wooden peel, dusting it with flour. I have metal peel, so I use a sheet of parchment paper to ensure my pizza doesn’t stick to my peel.

Parchment paper on metal pizza peel.

Parchment paper on metal pizza peel.

Pizza to be built on peel.

Pizza to be built on peel.

There are four steps to forming your dough into a pizza:

  1. Flatten the dough into an even disc with the heel of your hand, turning the dough as you flatten.
  2. Pick the dough up, rotating it as you pinch a lip about an inch deep around the edge.
  3. Pass the dough back and forth between your hands, rotating it.
  4. Use your knuckles to spin, toss, and catch the dough. Or, alternatively, you can stretch/pull the dough on the peel.

If you find that your dough keeps shrinking, you can let it rest longer until it is easier to work with. At this point, you can choose whether you want a crispier or chewier crust; for a crispy crust, you will decorate/bake immediately, while you will want to let your dough rest for an additional 30 minutes to get a chewier crust.

Toppings for pizza:  olive oil, fresh oregano, fresh thyme, mozzarella, Monterey Jack, provolone, and crushed red pepper.

Toppings for pizza: olive oil, fresh oregano, fresh thyme, mozzarella, Monterey Jack, provolone, and crushed red pepper.

Either way, when ready to bake, brush the lip of the dough with olive oil.

Lip brushed with olive oil.

Lip brushed with olive oil.

To decorate a pizza Alton’s way, top the pizza with sauce, using as little as possible. Alton recommends that you use about 3 T of sauce. You can use whatever sauce you like; I used a homemade red sauce.

Homemade red sauce.

Homemade red sauce.

Sauce on pizza.

Sauce on pizza.

Over the sauce add fresh thyme, fresh oregano, and some crushed red pepper flakes.

Sauce topped with fresh oregano, fresh thyme, and crushed red pepper.

Sauce topped with fresh oregano, fresh thyme, and crushed red pepper.

Finally, sprinkle on a blend of shredded mozzarella, Monterey Jack, and provolone cheeses.

Pizza topped with cheese.

Pizza topped with cheese.

Bake your pizza for 7 minutes, and allow it to rest for 3 minutes before cutting.

Pizza in the oven.

Pizza in the oven.

Finished pizza.

Finished pizza.

We really did like Alton’s pizza dough, though I did think it was a little bit salty. If you read the online recipe, Alton has added a note about cutting back on the salt, but I made the dough as he made it on the actual show. Since Ted is a salt lover, he thought the dough was great, but I would cut the salt back slightly. We did both agree that Alton’s dough had more flavor than our regular dough, and the texture was great. The dough was crispy and golden on the outside, and chewy on the inside. I did find the dough to be slightly difficult to work with, as it kept shrinking on me as I tried to stretch it, but a little more resting time seemed to take care of that. We had the pizza again the next night, and the dough was slightly easier to work with. I am tempted to make this again, portion it out, and freeze it, as I think it would freeze nicely.

The Final Pizza

I happened to discover a few weeks ago that Alton has posted a new pizza recipe on his website, claiming that it is superior to the original Good Eats dough and that it is the only pizza dough he will “ever need.” So, although this recipe has nothing directly to do with Good Eats, I decided I had to make it to compare side-by-side with the original Good Eats dough. I won’t go into the step-by-step procedure in detail, but I will post photos of the process.

Dry ingredients for Alton's new pizza crust:  bread flour, active dry yeast, sugar, and Kosher salt.

Dry ingredients for Alton’s new pizza crust: bread flour, active dry yeast, sugar, and Kosher salt.

690 g of bread flour.

690 g of bread flour.

9 g of active dry yeast.

9 g of active dry yeast.

15 g of sugar

15 g of sugar

20 g of Kosher salt

20 g of Kosher salt

15 g of olive oil

15 g of olive oil

455 g of water. I used tap, rather than bottled, water.

455 g of water. I used tap, rather than bottled, water.

Dry ingredients in mixer.

Dry ingredients in mixer.

Wet ingredients added to dry.

Wet ingredients added to dry.

Dough just pulling away from sides of bowl.

Dough just pulling away from sides of bowl.

Dough after 5 minutes of kneading on medium.

Dough after 5 minutes of kneading on medium.

Formed into a smooth ball.

Formed into a smooth ball.

Into an oiled bowl, covered with plastic wrap, and into the refrigerator for 18-24 hours.

Into an oiled bowl, covered with plastic wrap, and into the refrigerator for 18-24 hours.

Dough after ~24 hours.

Dough after ~24 hours.

Dough turned onto counter.

Dough turned onto counter.

Dough flattened into rectangle.

Dough flattened into rectangle.

Dough rolled up to be cut into thirds.

Dough rolled up to be cut into thirds.

Dough portioned into three balls.

Dough portioned into three balls.

Two balls of dough back into refrigerator for later use.

Two balls of dough back into refrigerator for later use.

Dough on pizza peel.

Dough on pizza peel.

Dough after shaping/forming.

Dough after shaping/forming.

Lip brushed with olive oil.

Lip brushed with olive oil.

Dough topped with sauce, fresh thyme, fresh oregano, and crushed red pepper.

Dough topped with sauce, fresh thyme, fresh oregano, and crushed red pepper.

Pizza topped with cheese.

Pizza topped with cheese.

What are the differences between this recipe and the old one? This recipe uses active dry yeast, in contrast to the use of instant yeast in the original recipe, and everything for this recipe is weighed in grams. Also, Alton tells you to use this dough within eight hours after the 18-24 hour rise, while you had up to 6 days for the original dough. Oh, and this recipe yields three pizzas, while the original gives you two. The procedures for the two doughs are essentially the same, aside from the fact that this dough gets kneaded by the mixer for 5 minutes, rather than 15 for the original dough, and Alton goes straight to the dough hook for kneading, rather than using the paddle first. We literally ate this pizza three nights in a row, comparing it directly to the original dough the first two nights. This, too, was a good pizza, but I think we preferred the original dough. Why? The original dough was less airy and chewier. Also, it was just as good the second day as it was the first, whereas the new dough seemed to become too bubbly for the second and third nights. I also found the original dough to be smoother and slightly easier to work with when forming the pizzas.

Dough side-by-side:  original dough on the left.

Dough side-by-side: original dough on the left.

New dough on the right.

New dough on the right.

Day 1:  Original pizza.

Day 1: Original pizza.

Day 1:  Original pizza.

Day 1: Original pizza.

Day 1:  New pizza.

Day 1: New pizza.

Day 1:  New pizza.

Day 1: New pizza.

Original pizza, cut into slices on day 2.

Original pizza, cut into slices on day 2.

New recipe, cut into slices on day 2.

New recipe, cut into slices on day 2.

Alton's new pizza on day 3. Crust is awfully puffy and bubbly.

Alton’s new pizza on day 3. Crust is awfully puffy and bubbly.

While Ted and I agreed that both dough recipes were great, we would choose the Good Eats recipe (with slightly less salt) over Alton’s updated version. Either way, you can’t go wrong, and a lot of it comes down to personal preference. So, will I be giving the boot to my go-to recipe of the past few years? No, but I think I will be adding Alton’s original dough to my regular pizza repertoire.