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By the Book: Emily Schuman’s Homemade Pizza Dough

March 26th 02:03pm, 2013

Love her or hate her, you have to give Emily Schuman credit. The woman behind the popular lifestyle blog Cupcakes and Cashmere has made a full-time gig out of writing 150-word posts about nail polish colors and peplum shirts. She also writes the occasional food-related post, though most of her recipes are linked to other blogs, websites and magazines.

But as we wrap up our month of cookbooks penned by bloggers-turned-authors, we couldn’t ignore our curiosity when Schuman’s first book, Cupcakes and Cashmere, arrived at the office. Was it really a cookbook? Was it actually helpful? Could it be a useful tool for beginning cooks?

After flipping through the glossy pages, it’s clear that this is hardly a cookbook. On second look, there are, indeed, Food and Entertainment sections in all of the chapters, which are divided into seasons. And there, in between a smoky eye how-to and advice on designing a bookshelf, are recipes for chocolate chip cookies, a vodka martini and a berry pie to enjoy in the height of summer. Still needing a lot more convincing, I decided upon Schuman’s recipe for homemade pizza dough. Pizza dough is one of the trickiest tasks to master in the kitchen, and if I was to decide whether a handful of recipes could push this lifestyle log into cookbook territory, this recipe would surely be an adequate test.

The final pizza fell firmly into the “fine” category – a texture that teetered between thick and thin, slightly salty and a little less chewy than I preferred. The recipe, however, proved that Schuman isn’t quite ready to be named a cookbook author, as it lacked very basic details, which, without, would have surely tripped up a beginner baker.

For instance, she recommends using a pizza stone but doesn’t instruct you to place it in the oven when you’re preheating – a fatal mistake, since this is the only way to get the stone brutally hot enough to adequately crisp the crust. Schuman also lacks consistency in her instructions. She notes that the dough recipe makes enough for 2 10-inch pizzas but forgets to tell you to separate the dough into 2 balls and even opts for vague advice to roll the dough out “to your desired size” instead of providing the correct size guidelines. Most frustrating of all: The dough took more than twice as long to double in size as the recipe stated.

While all of these missteps weren’t enough to ruin my dinner – I knew when to place the stone in the oven and had plenty of rising time to spare on a snowy Sunday – they were enough to answer my questions about Schuman’s first foray into print. Her recipes won’t turn a good cook into a great one or even give a novice cook an extra boost of confidence. But if you want to know how to apply bright lipstick, you know where to go.

Homemade Pizza Dough
Makes enough for two 10-inch thin-crust pizzas

¾ cup warm water (It should be between 105 and 110 degrees.)
1 packet active dry yeast (not fast-acting)
½ tsp. sugar
2½ cups all-purpose flour (You can also substitute part or all whole wheat.)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. salt

• Preheat the oven to its highest temperature (Mine is 500 degrees.).
• Pour the warm water into a large bowl, sprinkle in the yeast and sugar, and let the mixture sit for 5 minutes until it’s slightly bubbly. Stir in the flour, olive oil and salt until it forms a ball (If it seems dry, you can add a teaspoon of water at a time until it comes together, but make sure it doesn’t get overly sticky.).
• Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it’s smooth and elastic. Use the same bowl and drizzle in just enough olive oil to coat the bowl (so the dough doesn’t stick). Place the ball of dough inside and cover it with a damp cloth. Let it rise for about 45 minutes, or until it’s doubled in size.
• If you’re using a pizza peel (the long wooden paddle used to transfer pizza to and from the oven), sprinkle on a little cornmeal (This will help the pizza slide off onto the heated pizza stone in the oven.), and roll the dough to the desired size. Don’t worry if you don’t have these tools; simply sprinkle cornmeal onto a baking sheet and place the pizza directly in the oven.
• Now you’re ready to add your favorite toppings (I love the combination of sauteed onions, sage and fennel sausage.). When you’ve done that, bake the pizza until the bottom of the crust is golden brown and the cheese – if you’ve used any – is melted, roughly 7 to 10 minutes.

Tools (helpful but not necessary):
Pizza Peel: Great way to transfer the pizza to the oven
Pizza Stone: This gets really, really hot, so it helps make a crispy crust.
Pizza Cutter: Easiest way to cut up a pizza.

Which food blogger do you love and wish would publish a cookbook? Name the blogger, provide a link to his or her blog, and explain why the blog is awesome in the comments section below for a chance to win a copy of Cupcakes and Cashmere by Emily Schuman. We’ll announce the winner in next week’s By the Book column. 

And now we’d like to congratulate Jenny, whose comment on last week’s By the Book has won her a signed copy of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman. Jenny, keep an eye out for an email from the Sauce crew.

By Stacy Schultz

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7 Responses to “By the Book: Emily Schuman’s Homemade Pizza Dough”

  1. Katie Says:
    March 26th, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    Gina from http://www.skinnytaste.com is someone I’d love to see publish a cookbook. Her recipes are always full of flavor and weight watchers friendly too! I don’t think I’ve ever made something of hers that I didn’t like. I highly recommend trying out her recipe for butternut squash risotto. It tastes like it must be so terrible for you but it isn’t!

  2. Danielle Says:
    March 26th, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    I would love to see Emily from http://dailygarnish.com/ publish a cookbook. Her recipes are mostly vegan, often gluten-free, but always healthy and delicious! Her work/life balance with a new toddler is amazing, and while she has a few labor-intensive recipes, she also has plenty of “quick tips” and Trader Joe’s staples :)

  3. Betsy Says:
    March 26th, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    Katie… if you look at Skinnytaste.com About me page she is currently writing a cookbook that will be out Fall 2014!

  4. Angie Says:
    March 26th, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    First of all, love Emily’s blog! As for a blogger I’d love to see publish a cookbook (that hasn’t already like Smitten Kitchen), I would say Annie from Annie’s Eats, for sure. I love her blog and it’s my go-to for so many things, especially desserts!

  5. Joseph Says:
    March 26th, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    I enjoy reading http://www.bravetart.com by Stella, who is a pastry chef in Lexington, Kentucky. She always posts recipes with interesting twists on old classics, with stuff like ‘faux-reos’ and homemade rainbow sprinkles. Her cookbook would probably be fun and inventive, I would certainly look forward to it!

  6. Hugh Says:
    April 1st, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    Tough one because my favorite food bloggers all seem to have books already in the works. Kenji at Serious Eats, Stella like Joseph mentioned, and Ideas in Food has a second book coming out later this year. So the only blog coming to mind is Cooking Issues, which unfortunately is infrequently updated but always interesting.

  7. Lisa Says:
    April 2nd, 2013 at 9:01 am

    I would like Rosie from http://www.sweetapolita.com to publish a cookbook. The pictures on her blog are beautiful and inspirational. Her recipes always have good tips, are creative, and are clearly written with an emphasis on presentation.

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