In my house, there is no sound more horrendous than the smoke alarm. By all accounts, though, the smoke alarm in the new house is heads and shoulders above the one in the old place. The old one, after shrieking for a few beeps, said in a woman's automated voice, "FIRE! FIRE! FIRE!" It would also beep, every three seconds, when it was low on battery. Take the time that we went to Denver for Thanksgiving and came back, and it had been beeping for god knows how long. Or the time that it started at three in the morning and couldn't figure out how to remove the battery until four thirty.
Undoubtedly, we were not our building's preferred neighbors.
Part of the problem of a triggered alarm is that a lot of the things that get shoved in the oven are overfull and slightly liquidy.
Liquidy + heat + rising agents = bubbling over that gets stuck at the bottom of the oven and burns off whenever the temperature surpasses 350 degrees (F).
This would be the case at the present moment. Pizza, for which I have had an unnatural craving for the past three weeks, is causing my smoke alarm to sound, thus making me a little less happy with it. That really isn't saying much, though, since this pizza is delicious. The crust is good: bready, chewy, and a little sour. It might even rival Mark Bittman's, which has been my standby for the past few years. You don't even need to roll it out--just a little poking and prodding does the trick. Topped with sautéed vegetables and a little crumbled sausage, it's a mighty fine thing. Mighty fine, indeed.
Basic Pizza Dough, from Jim Lahey's my bread
Jim Lahey is best known around these parts for his magnificent, easy-peasy no-knead bread. You remember when that recipe came out. It seemed as though the entire foodie community was suddenly in the kitchen, stirring a few magic ingredients together to make the easiest rustic loaf in the world. (Recipe here). This pizza dough takes after the bread--totally easy, and totally worth it.
Yield: two baking pan-sized pizza crusts
3 3/4 cups (500 grams) bread flour
2 1/2 teaspoons (10 grams) instant or active dry yeast
3/4 teaspoon (5 grams) salt
3/4 teaspoon plus a pinch (approx 3 grams) sugar
1 1/3 cups (300 grams) room temperature water (body temperature or cool to the touch)
olive oil, for the pans
1. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, yeast, salt, and sugar. Add the water and, using a wooden spoon or your hand, mix until blended, at least 30 seconds. (I found this took a little longer--more like a minute or two.) Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature until the dough has more than doubled in volume, about 2 hours.
2. Oil two 13 x 18-inch rimmed baking sheets. Use a bowl scraper or a rubber spatula to scrape half of the dough onto an oiled pan in one piece. Gently pull and stretch the dough across the surface of the pan, and use your hands to press it evenly out to the edges. If the dough sticks to your fingers, lightly dust it with flour or coat your hands with oil. Pinch any holes together. Repeat with the second piece. Use as you like.
*One note: this dough takes a few minutes longer to cook all the way through than does regular pizza dough. Bake accordingly.