As a kid, I was taught that "hate" is a word that should not be used lightly. For example, "I hate my sister," was not an appropriate or acceptable sentence in our household. Because of this, I thought twice before settling on the title for my post. Do I really hate dough? But after my experience with this week's recipe, I felt that this title pretty much summed things up perfectly. Sorry, Mom.
I like to cook. I even find joy and relaxation in the aspects of cooking that others might find tedious...the process of chopping, for instance. And, it's because of this that I found the preparation for these little pizzas to be quite fun. I put my little one to bed, paid a quick visit to our neighbors, and then got straight to work...making neat and tidy little piles and bowlfuls of chopped tomato, pepperoni, chicken, and black olives. "You are so prepared," I proudly told myself, "Mise en place, as the chefs say." Little did I know how unprepared I really was. Afterall, the dough was silently biding its time, lying in wait to make its attack.
Now, I admit that I'm a dough novice. In fact, as a rule, I try to avoid yeast products whenever possible. Too much stress, too much disappointment when things go awry. But, this recipe allowed for the grace of store-bought dough. That, I assumed, I could handle. I assumed wrong. When the time came to roll out the 12 little pizza crusts, I began with high hopes. Two crusts in, my blood pressure began to rise. Four crusts in, I broke into a cold sweat. Six crusts in, I was ready to throw all the remaining dough straight into the garbage. Eight crusts in, I decided that, yes, I really do hate dough. Ten crusts in, the table was covered in flour from my desperate attempts to keep the dough from sticking to the cutting board, to the rolling pin, and to me. By crust twelve, I had produced one crust that actually looked and behaved like the other eleven should have.
In the time since this dough debacle, I have tried to analyze what it is about dough that bothers me so. It all comes down to the elasticity, I think. With every roll of the rolling pin, my dough would spread out nicely, only to then spring back to a much-smaller-than-needed size. I'm sure I just didn't have the right technique at first, because after trying and trying again, the old adage proved true. I did succeed. Maybe it was only with one dough circle, but I succeeded nonetheless.
Smooshing the dough into the little muffin tins was nearly as infuriating as rolling it out. Here again, we ran into the elasticity issue. "Just stay where I put you," I groaned desperately. Dough, however (much like growing, curious babes, I'm discovering), does not like "staying put." So, the dough stayed more where it wanted to be and less where I wanted it to be (let's hope I am a more assertive parent than I am a chef). The toppings were added with the help of my husband, who was probably trying to both tame my culinary madness and also accelerate the actual process of getting our dinner into the oven. Twelve minutes later, we had a dozen surprisingly-delicious-looking pizzas ready to be eaten. And eat we did.
We came to the same conclusion as my sister: somewhat lacking in flavor (the pepperoni ones had the most personality), but lots of potential. As much as I hated rolling and dealing with the dough, it did produce some amazing, crispy little crusts. And so, once I get over the trauma of this most recent pizza experience, I will have to try my hand at it again. I do think this recipe deserves to be perfected. Plus, I need to get over my fear of dough.
So now, after all this pondering, do I really and truly hate dough? Perhaps not. We certainly aren't best buds, Dough and I. But, we're working on our relationship, and, despite our rocky start, I think we may have a future.