I started a New Yorker article on Egyptian politics three and a half weeks ago and I just finished it.
It’s August now.
Also of note: my delightful seventeen-year-old sister traveled across the country to stay with me for most of July. In between SAT prep, we time traveled back to my life circa 2004 and shopped at Forever21, sprawled out on the floor of different Manhattan Barnes & Noble stores, ate buckets of gelato, visited the dinosaurs at the Museum of Natural History, and marathon-watched Orange Is the New Black. If you haven’t seen the show yet, it features a spectacular theme song by Regina Spektor (The animals, the animals, trapped trapped trapped till the cage is full), Jason Biggs, who has upgraded from apple pie to Taylor Schilling, Laura Prepon, who has upgraded from Topher Grace to Taylor Schilling, a pleasure-giving screwdriver, Natasha Lyonne’s hair, Captain Janeway, the voice of Patty Mayonnaise, a beautiful transsexual, Taryn Manning’s fake snaggle teeth, and a sassy black woman named Taystee. If this doesn’t convince you to watch the show, that’s okay, we can still be friends. Except, no, WE CAN’T.
I also got this dummy from the ASPCA.
When I say Buffy is a “dummy,” I mean she’s incredibly dumb. She starves during the day because she bats all of her expensive organic dry cat food under the oven. She runs headfirst into every piece of furniture. She lays in the middle of the kitchen floor and licks my ankles while I cook. She laughs when I spray her with water as punishment for continually wriggling her little body behind the TV. She sleeps on her back with all four paws in the air.
She was also wildly unhelpful while I experimented with pizza dough a couple of weekends ago. Until recently, I’d stuck by the same Molto Mario recipe I’d been using since college, even though the flavor was slightly lacking and it didn’t brown as beautifully as I’d like. Enter Franny’s: Simple, Seasonal, Italian cookbook. I’ve only been to the critically-beloved Park Slope pizzeria once (I usually save my pizza traveling miles for Roberta’s in Bushwick) but the experience has lingered with me and I’ve been eagerly anticipating Francine Stephens and Andrew Feinberg’s pizza-baking wisdom.
Making pizza at home can be tricky. You have to worry about how much yeast to use, the salt level, kneading the dough, and how long to proof (rise) it. This Franny’s recipe comes close to solving these challenges by calling for less than a full packet of dry-active yeast and two full teaspoons of salt, letting the standing mixer do the work of pulling the dough into a perfect, glutenous mass, and proofing it in the fridge for 24-48 hours in advance. The proofing technique is key here since the aging process is responsible for the depth of flavor. DON’T SKIP THIS STEP, even though I know you want to. You can pull together the dough in half an hour one night and shape, top, and bake a 12-inch pizza in under half an hour the next night.
I couldn’t resist the addition of a tablespoon of olive oil and teaspoon of sugar–leftovers from my old stand-by recipe–and blooming the yeast in lukewarm water, not cold. (Much faster.) I also didn’t take their suggestion of baking the pizza at 500 degrees for 3 minutes and using the broiler function for 2-4 minutes to approximate the effect of a wood-burning pizza oven. My broiler is in a separate unit and I’m usually tipsy on half a glass of red wine by the time I slip a pizza in the oven. I’m not about to juggle a pizza stone and tempt fate.
The toppings are inspired by a pie I ate many times at Milkflower, Astoria’s answer to Roberta’s, while my sister was in town. The sweetness of summer corn pairs beautifully with fatty bacon and thin shavings of garlic, which melt into the pie during the baking process. A handful of arugula ensures you don’t feel terrible about yourself.
To come on the blog: black sesame gelato, bucatini with spicy anchovy sauce and dill breadcrumbs
Corn & Bacon Pizza
Dough recipe and technique slightly adapted from Franny’s: Simple, Seasonal, Italian cookbook; toppings recipe my own
If you don’t have a standing mixer, you can combine the ingredients with a wooden spoon and switch to your hands once the dough starts to come together.
In lieu of a pizza peel, you can flour the underside of a large baking sheet and use it to slide the pizza onto the pizza stone.
Makes enough for four 12-inch pizzas
1 1/2 t of dry active yeast
1 t sugar
1 3/4 c. lukewarm water
2 t kosher salt
1 T + 1 t extra virgin olive oil
4 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
In the bowl of a standing mixer, add yeast and sugar to water and let sit for 10 minutes until foamy.
Using the dough hook, beat in the salt and tablespoon of olive oil. Add flour by half cupfuls until it’s completely incorporated. The dough will be slightly wet and shaggy on the hook.
On a floured surface, knead the dough one or two times into a smooth, slightly elastic, tight ball.
Oil a bowl with teaspoon of olive oil, turn the dough ball around in the bowl to coat, and cover loosely with plastic. Refrigerate for 24 hours.
After 24 hours, divide the dough into four parts and roll each into a ball with your palms. Allow the dough balls to sit on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper in the fridge for at least half an hour. Any unused portions can then rise for another 24 hours. If you don’t plan to use all the dough after that, you can freeze the unused portions for up to 3 months.
Once you’re ready to make the pizzas, preheat the pizza stone for 30 minutes at 500 degrees. Let the dough sit on the counter during this time.
On a floured surface, flatten a ball with your fingertips into a round disc. Holding the disc with your hands underneath at the 10 and 2 o’clock positions, rotate the dough, stretching it and maintaining an even thickness until you have a 12-inch round.
Place on lightly floured pizza peel.
Toppings for one pizza:
Double, triple, or quadruple the recipe to suit your needs.
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper
1/4 c. pizza sauce (you can make your own but I like Muir Glen’s canned pizza sauce, especially on a weeknight)
Half of a large ball of mozzarella, sliced
1 clove of garlic, thinly sliced on a mandoline or with a sharp knife
1 large ear of corn, steamed or grilled, kernels cut off the cob
2 slices of bacon, sliced into lardons and fried
Handful of arugula
Drizzle the dough with olive oil and spread with a pastry brush, making sure you cover the outer edges. Dust the surface with a sprinkling of salt and pepper.
Top with 1/4 c. of pizza sauce, garlic slices, mozzarella, corn kernels, and bacon.
Slide pizza onto pizza stone and bake at 500 degrees for 12 minutes until crust is golden-brown.
Remove from oven, top with handful of arugula.
Lather, rinse, repeat for additional pizzas.