Star-Bulletin Features

Wednesday, October 3, 2001

Albert Grande's freshly made anchovy pizza with
some utensils used to create it.

Good dough is a must in
making fine pizza

Zen of pizza

By Betty Shimabukuro

ALBERT GRANDE's pizzas are of the thin-crust Neopolitan style, and his favorite topping combination is anchovy and tomato, although that is a constantly changing thing.

The point with pizza should be a good dough, he says; the toppings are a matter of what pleases you. "Whatever you have is OK. I'm not a purist."

He doesn't even insist on homemade dough. Go to a bakery and ask to buy a couple pounds of bread dough, he says. Or buy frozen pizza dough at the supermarket, or even pizza shells.

The taste won't be quite the same, but you can still reap the benefits of pizza therapy.

Once you get serious, though, he does suggest investing in a baking stone and a "peel," the long-handled spatula for transferring the dough to the oven. The stone helps you get the results you would in a brick pizza oven.

Other tips: Use lots of flour to keep dough from sticking to the rolling surface. Then use lots of cornmeal to keep rolled-out dough from sticking to your baking sheet or peel. If it does stick, slide a knife underneath to loosen it, or pull a length of dental floss under the dough.

Also, for best results the oven needs to be quite hot, 475 to 500 degrees. Preheat for an hour.

And by the way, don't obsess about getting your pizza perfectly round. Grande's are sort of rough-edged rectangles. He likes to quote a professional chef, Todd English, who says, "Never trust a round pizza."

Pizza Dough

2 packages yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
1-1/2 cup warm water, between 100 and 110 degrees, divided use
4 cups of flour (or more, as needed)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1-1/2 cup of warm water

Put yeast and sugar in a cup. Add 1/2 cup water; mix well. Wait about 5 minutes for yeast and sugar to activate.

In a large mixing bowl, add flour, salt, olive oil, 1 cup of warm water and yeast mixture. Mix with a fork until all the liquid is absorbed.

Place a handful of flour on a pastry board or mixing surface and dust hands. Knead dough 8 to 10 minutes or until the texture is smooth and uniform. If dough is sticky, add a little more flour.

Press the dough to the mixing surface; fold and repeat. Place dough in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Place in draft-free area and cover with cloth. Let rise about an hour. Punch down and let sit another 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Cut dough in 2 or 4 pieces, depending on size of pizza you wish to make.

Using a dusted rolling pin, roll out dough on a floured surface into any shape (doesn't have to be round). Add more flour as needed so dough doesn't stick.

Dust a cookie sheet with corn meal. Use a spatula to slide dough onto a cookie sheet.

Drizzle dough with more olive oil, then top as desired (see suggestions below).

Place on a pre-heated baking stone and bake 8 to 10 minutes.


Anchovy and tomato: Spread over dough (in this order) 2 to 4 cloves pressed garlic; basil, oregano, parsley, salt and pepper, to taste; 6 to 8 ounces mozzarella cheese; 4 ounces Parmesan cheese; 1 can anchovies, broken up; 1 thinly sliced roma tomato.

Approximate nutritional analysis, per slice (based on 16 slices and not including salt to taste): 230 calories, 9 g total fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, 20 mg cholesterol, 540 mg sodium, 26 g carbohydrate, 12 g protein.*

Spinach and mushrooms: Sauté 4 to 6 ounces sliced oyster mushrooms in a little olive oil, with 1 clove garlic, pressed. Stir in 2 tablespoons minced parsley.

Top dough with (in this order) 2 cloves garlic, pressed; 1 cup fresh spinach; basil, oregano, salt and pepper to taste; 4 to 6 ounces mozzarella cheese; 2 to 4 ounces Parmesan cheese; mushroom mixture.

Approximate nutritional analysis, per slice (based on 16 slices and not including salt to taste): 225 calories, 9 g total fat, 3 g saturated fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 325 mg sodium, 27 g carbohydrate, 10 g protein.*

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