Jamie Oliver's Pizza Dough

At the end of my yoga class, the teacher often urges us students to try to take the quiet we’ve manifested in class along with us for the rest of the day. On the drive home from Big Sur, I have this notion very much in mind—to take the unhurried, relaxed, you're-OK feeling so visceral in Big Sur along with me to Los Angeles for one more day. And I decide baking bread will help me do this, any manner of bread that isn’t too complicated. I just want the simple pleasure of it, the simple yet semi-miraculous feeling of pulling the dish towel off the bowl to reveal risen, puffed-up dough. In short, it is going to be therapeutic.

But first, I need a recipe. Something simple, I remind myself in the morning. Oh, but wouldn't it be nice if the bread were an integral part of dinner so that my therapeutic bread-making experience could also provide real sustenance? Oh, and could I choose the recipe and write down the ingredients before my 8:30am meeting, which is right next door to the grocery store so I won't have to make a separate trip to the store later?

But I can't find a recipe beforehand, and so it's not until midway through class when I remember a recent post from The Wednesday Chef for Jamie Oliver's pizza dough. It's an Aha! moment for sure because apart from it being a recipe fit for dinner, the other main aspect I remember is how simple it sounded. Only, after the meeting, I can't access the Internet to check the ingredients list as I do not have a smart phone. No, my phone, according to my boss's 13-year-old daughter, is the same one her younger sister has. ("High five!")

I refuse to go home for the Internet just to leave again. So, I call Matt at work and ask, "Can you do a quick Google search for me right now?" He says it's not a good time and that he'll call me back a bit later. I say, "But I'm at Trader Joe's and it'll just take a second and I'm trying to take the quiet manifested in Big Sur along with me for one more day!" He obliges. (Thank you, Matt!) I collect my ingredients.

I have some work to do from home, but set 3pm as the time to start my therapy session/ pizza dough-making. Of course, the whole time I'm working I'm also aware that the pizza-making/therapy session could be a post for this blog. Why not? Well, for starters, it's Tuesday, and Tuesdays at 4:30pm is one of my favorite yoga classes that I can never make when physically at work, which if I go to is going to rush the therapy of it all. That's OK, I decide. I can do it all. I'll make the dough, which will make me feel grounded and connected; then, clean up everything, let the dough rise while I'm at yoga, come back home and finish it off in a jiffy. (This is the kind of optimistic thinking that leads to using words like jiffy.) Matt will come home from work and I will be this shining example of the working and working-out woman who has juggled it all (sans child).

Of course, all the while, the sun is setting, and as I have learned time and time again, my photography skills tend to really come undone without natural light. But with little rationale, I convince myself that it's practically spring, that the sun is setting later and later, and that I can make it back before the sun really sets.

This is kind of crazy, but do you know what happened? The sun did set. 

My version:
What was I thinking? That the sun was going to hang out in the sky a little bit longer while I lay in Savasana, which I toyed with the idea of skipping so as to get ten more minutes of sunlight, but ultimately couldn't because Savasana (where you lie on your back with your arms relaxed by your side and legs flopped toward the floor and your eyes closed) is by far, my favorite part of class. 

I guess what I'm trying to say is: sometimes I ask too much of food. It can't be my scheduled therapy session and my fuel and a way to show my husband I love him and a beautifully-photographed blog post all in one.
"A delicious sort of shiver ran through Lyle. What I wanted to happen is happening, he thought. For a moment he felt the rest of his life unfurling like that, ordained and golden, as effortless as falling, but the sense of falling reawakened the terror with which he normally regarded the future." - Peter Cameron's The Weekend

I brought this beautiful novel on our recent trip to Big Sur and in retrospect, find it funny that I underlined and dog-eared the page of the above few sentences. My quiet intentions fell apart in an instant outside the world of vacation.
And though, perhaps not as restorative as it could've been, the pizza dough made for a delicious, satisfying dinner that really did come together in a jiffy. And if you haven't already, I highly recommend reading Luisa's post for the version minus the frazzle and multitude of expectations, and plus her beautiful photos and really simple instructions on what to do for sauce and toppings.

Luisa of The Wednesday Chef's version:
 photo by Luisa Weiss

Jamie Oliver's Pizza Dough via The Wednesday Chef
Makes enough for one half-sheet pan (if you like a thicker-crusted pizza) or two half sheet pans if you like your pizza thin as can be).

3 1/2 cups (1 lb) all-purpose flour (if you can find it, use Italian "00" flour)
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons fine sea salt (you might find you need more)
1 packet (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast or 7 grams instant yeast (for those of you in Germany, this is one of those Trockenhefe packets)
1 1/2 teaspoons raw or regular sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
1. Put the flour into a large bowl and make a well in the middle. In a large measuring cup, mix the yeast, sugar and olive oil into the water and leave for a few minutes, then pour into the well. Using a fork, bring the flour in gradually from the sides and swirl it into the liquid. Sprinkle in the salt. Keep mixing, drawing larger amounts of flour in, and when it all starts to come together, work the rest of the flour in with your clean, flour-dusted hands. Knead until you have a smooth, springy dough.
2. Wash out your bowl, dry it and oil it lightly. Place the ball of dough in the bowl and turn to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and place in a warm room or an oven (not turned on) for about an hour. The dough will have doubled in size.
3. Now put the dough on a flour-dusted surface and gently deflate it with your hands - this is called punching down the dough. You can either use it immediately, or keep it, wrapped in plastic wrap, in the fridge (or freezer) until required. If using right away, simply pat out to the size of your half-sheet pan or divide in half and roll out to cover two pans. You can also divide the dough into little balls for individual  pizzas - this amount of dough is enough to make about three to four medium pizzas.
4. Timing-wise, it's a good idea to roll the pizzas out about 15 to 20 minutes before you want to cook them. Then simply top them with your heart's desire and bake them in a very hot, preheated oven (turn your oven as high as it will go) for about 10 minutes for the thicker pizza and less for the thinner ones, until crisp and bubbling.
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Matthew said...

Sooooo good! Can we please make this a weekly staple?

Rebecca said...

I was thinking the same thing, coming back to LA from India last week-- how to keep that peace when surrounded by stress and, well, LA. And you're right, baking IS a good way to do that :).

penelope said...

I've never heard of Peter Cameron but want to check out The Weekend now!!!

Heather Taylor said...

was that 8:30AM meeting held in or out of the saddle? just curious....but really, this looks divine.

Jessica said...

Right there with you on the therapy bread making. Are those anchovies??? I'm scared.

Megan Taylor said...

That is GOURMET RESTAURANT status...

Steve O. said...

I ROYALLY messed up a cornmeal pizza crust my last time out, I'll have to try this recipe! Like...I royally screwed that motha' up. Thanks for being a great blog! :)

amelia said...

@jess: yes! matt didn't really like them. My bad.

@steveO: thanks! & yes, try this one out. it came together so quickly and was really delicious.

Mary Anne said...

Mmmmm.... Amelia, I sympathize heartily will your struggles. How is it POSSIBLE to work, go to yoga, shop for food AND cook said food all in the same day?? Oh and without a car. In my experience, it is not possible. Cheers to you for basically getting it ALL done! You achieved the working/working out/cooking girl quadfecta.

(Also, I have the movie "Working Girl" in my house right now and am watching it tonight!)

jeana sohn said...

OMG. i'm going to make this one. thanks, swan!

Mark and Marsha said...

Beautiful pizza -- anchovies and all!

keepfeeling said...

i am so not mad at this.

Lisa said...

Oy, what you said about daylight is such a sad reality for me too, re: food blogging. That said, your pizza still looks quite lovely!