Tomorrow marks the first day of class for over 1300 bright-eyed young freshman at my alma mater — Elon University. My friend Beth, who happens to be the first person I met at Elon, texted me on Friday to tell me how old we should feel because the incoming class will graduate in 2014 (and many were born in 1992). I laughed and was reminded that the North Carolina air feels exactly the same way that it did during my first days at Elon – crisp and dry with hints of Fall (it was this Floridian’s first true fall).
So in honor of all the pizza and beer ahead, I’ll share this incredibly guilt ridden recipe for Tyler Florence’s Bacon, Potato and Rosemary Pizza – what I like to call Freshman Fifteen Pizza. The only saving grace to this decadent carbohydrate filled cheesy potato cake with bacon topped on crisp homemade pizza dough – is the fresh crunch of arugula and bite of lemon on top. Despite this heart stopping description, it is worth the extra workout.
I typically purchase pizza dough from the store but after watching an old episode of Tyler’s Ultimate on The Cooking Channel, I went on a mission to make the “ultimate pizza dough.” I tried to find double zero flour at the Harris Teeter but fell back on King Arthur’s all-purpose. The dough was surprisingly more dense than store-bought dough – which allowed me to roll the dough much thinner without breaking it. It was worth the extra hour of time. I’ll post the dough recipe today – and the pizza recipe tomorrow.
I doubt there are any college freshman out there reading this blog. I’m sure they are all too tied up with nerves and microfridges but I’ll end by wishing them luck and courage for their adventure ahead. When catching up on this weekend’s freshman convocation under the oaks at Elon, I noticed a particularly fitting quote from Elon’s president, Leo Lambert. “Seek out opportunity and challenge. Metaphorically speaking, you have arrived at a great banquet. Don’t make yourself a bologna sandwich.”
- 2 packages active dry yeast
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 cups warm water
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 6 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for bowl
In a small bowl, combine the yeast, sugar and water and stir gently to dissolve. Let the mixture stand until the yeast comes alive and starts to foam, 5 to 10 minutes.
If you’re using a stand mixer, combine the salt and flour to the bowl and pulse a few times to mix. Add the yeast mixture, at the lowest speed, until the flour incorporates. When the dough starts to come together, increase the speed to medium and mix until the dough gathers into a ball. This should take about 2 minutes. Add the olive oil and pulse a few more times. Stop the machine periodically to scrape the dough off the hook. Get a feel for the dough as you’re making it by squeezing a small amount together between your thumb and fingers. If it’s crumbly, add more water, if it’s sticky, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and fold it over itself a few times, kneading until it’s smooth and elastic.
If you’re making the dough by hand, add the yeast mixture to a large bowl and stir in the salt and the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Then begin stirring in the flour. When the mixture becomes too stiff to stir with a spoon, knead in the rest of the flour by hand, adding just enough so that the dough is soft but not too sticky. As you work, squeeze a small amount of dough together between your thumb and fingers. If it’s crumbly, add more water; if it’s sticky, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
Form the dough into a round and put it into a lightly oiled bowl, turning it over to coat the dough entirely with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let it rise in a warm spot (i.e., over a gas pilot light) until it doubles in size, about 1 hour.