Monday, August 29, 2011

Working With Strange Equipment

Or: How to MacGyver a Pizza

So, I'm here in Antigua (the city in Guatemala, not the island chicks disappear from). And I'm in a hostel with a kitchen--you have no idea how happy I am about that.

Heck, I've been to the grocery store every day since I got here.

But, because it's not my kitchen, and because hostels don't always have everything you need, and because even supermarkets in Guatemala are a bit lacking in options... I've had to get inventive.

I wanted a pizza, you see. Which means measuring out ingredients, mixing up dough, magicking up toppings, and eventually cooking the whole thing.


  • No yeast--couldn't find it at the store, and even if I could it'd probably be both too big and too expensive.
  • No measuring cups, spoons, w/e
  • No oven rack
  • No fake cheese
  • No baking sheet.
So what did I do? Well, I've been magicking up pancakes for days, and they've turned out (mostly) fine.

It starts easy--pizza dough without yeast is a quickbread. That means using baking powder. The basic recipe is:
  • 1 liquid ("milk" or water) for every
  • 3 flour plus
  • 1/2tsp baking powder
  • dash of salt
  • T +/- oil
In my attempt I used 1C flour and 1/3C water.

But without measuring cups, how did I get that? Well, it's kinda old fashioned, but if you use a "cup" (in this case a small juice cup) or jelly jar, you'll be close to a cup. And if you use the same one for everything, keeping the ratios, you'll get something that works.

Anyway, dry stuff in a bowl, mix until the b. powder is everywhere, no clumps. Add wet, mix until you can't anymore, then kneed a couple minutes until it's smooth. Don't over kneed, though, or it'll get tough and stuff.

Set that aside for a couple minutes to relax, and use that time to chop up your toppings. I used (bagged) refried black beans, 1/4 an onion, fried, and a sliced roma tomato.

Once that's all ready, stretch out the dough--if you have something you can use to roll it, go for it, I just pushed mine flat-ish. You want it about the same size as the bottom of your frying pan. The pan goes on the stove, lowest heat you can manage (works really well over flame, might need a diffuser plate under the pan on an electric stove). Maybe a light spritz of oil or butter if you insist. Then the disk of dough goes in the hot-ish pan.

Cook it about 5 minutes, or until the "bottom" is lightly browned and cooked, then flip, pull off the heat, and add the toppings to what was the bottom. Once it's topped, cover the pan and put it back over the flame. You want to heat the toppings and cook the dough all the way through without burning it.

Southern-type cooks, and those who still make biscuits from scratch might recognize the recipe/method. With soured or buttermilk instead of water and some "butter" in the pan, you can make stove-top biscuits the same way.

Then you can nom away. Oh, and if you make the dough solid enough, or have something to balance it on for a while until it firms up, you can use the same dough/ method to make pizza on the BBQ, if you don't feel like waiting for a real rise.

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