“We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.” Dorothy Day
I may have mentioned in past posts that my friend and roommate Heather has been preparing to leave NYC for the Peace Corps in Latin America (with a stop in her hometown of San Francisco). A week ago, she left the city, a place where she has lived for the last 8 years and the environment in which (in her own words) she has grown from a girl to a woman. I feel so blessed to have had Heather as a roommate over the past two plus years. She sure is a whirlwind of energy—a force of nature, as I like to say. You know those people who are full of big dreams and wishes and idealism but never really seem to know how to set out to accomplish them? Well my dear friend is definitely not one of them! I’m excited for her to begin this new chapter and I can’t wait to see the adventures and excitement that await her.
My other roommate Danielle and I threw Heather a going away party for friends, but to say goodbye to our little Bronx community, we did something that felt special but not out of the ordinary. A few days before she left, we hosted Heather’s last community dinner. As we try to do almost every week, friends from our building and neighborhood gathered together to eat, drink, and talk. We shared stories from work, commented on politics and issues in the neighborhood, talked about spouses and children and the babies we are waiting to meet (there is a bit of a baby boom in the building). In short, we were present to each other for a few blissful hours. A few things we did were a little bit out of the ordinary for community dinner though—we toasted Heather and she toasted us.
It was very moving and I can’t think of a better way to formally close out Heather’s time at Rochambeau.
For the farewell dinner, we decided to make pizza. Heather cannot eat gluten and she had some gluten free pizza mix lying around just begging to be made. For those who can eat gluten, I made the with-gluten dough. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I have to say that this was the best dough recipe I’ve ever made! I’m not the one who stretched it our baked it—we delegated tasks and I was assigned to putting the dough together. So I can only take credit for finding the recipe and mixing up the ingredients, but this one is a winner that I will use over and over!
I found this recipe on 101cookbooks.com, my old standby site, but I was pleased to read that this is actually based off a recipe in The Breadbaker’s Apprentice, a book my mom got me almost a year ago! So it comes from my favorite recipe website and a beloved book, all rolled into one!
The recipe via 101cookbooks (from Peter Reinhart's book):
White Whole Wheat Pizza Dough Recipe
This is a very adapted version of Peter Reinhart's dough using white whole wheat flour. There are a few corners that I'm in the habit of cutting with this dough, all reflected in the following recipe instructions.
4 1/2 cups King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1/4 cup olive oil
1 3/4 cups water, ice cold
a few tablespoons chopped herbs (optional)
Semolina flour or cornmeal for dusting
Stir together the flour, salt, and instant yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer. By hand stir in the oil and the cold water until the flour is all absorbed. Add the herbs. Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for 5 to 7 minutes, or as long as it takes to create a smooth, sticky dough. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl (to me it looks like a tornado). Add a touch of water or flour to reach the desired effect. The finished dough will be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky.
Transfer the dough to a floured countertop. Cut the dough into 6 equal pieces and mold each into a ball. Rub each ball with olive oil and slip into plastic sandwich bags. Refrigerator overnight.
When you are ready to make pizza (anytime in the next few days), remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator at least 1 hour before making the pizza. Keep them covered so they don't dry out.
At the same time place a baking stone on a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees (you can go hotter, but I like the results I get at 450). If you do not have a baking stone, you can use the back of a sheet pan, but do not preheat the pan.
Generously dust a peel or the back of a sheet pan with semolina flour or cornmeal and get ready to shape your pizza dough. Uncover or unwrap the dough balls and dust them with flour. Working one at a time, gently press a dough round into a disk wide enough that you can bring it up onto your knuckles to thin out - you should be able to pull each round out to 12-inches or so. If the dough is being fussy and keeps springing back, let it rest for another 15-20 minutes. Place the pulled-out dough on the prepared sheet pan, and jerk the pan to make sure the dough will move around on the cornmeal ball-bearings (you don't want it to stick to the pan).
Add your toppings (less is more!) and slide the topped pizza onto the baking stone. Bake until the crust is crisp and nicely colored. Remove from the oven. I always finish with more freshly grate parmesan and a small drizzle of good quality extra-virgin olive oil.
Makes six 6-ounce pizza crusts.
And some pictures!