Wednesday, May 19, 2010
You asked for it! How to make homemade pizza pockets. Or, as my little girl calls them, "pizza sandwiches". :)
There are several variations to this recipe/technique to make homemade pizza pockets. You can take shortcuts to make the process easier and faster, or do it all from scratch - whatever suits your tastes (and time frame!) best.
Items needed to make your own homemade pizza pockets:
- pizza dough
- your choice of toppings (or in the case of pockets, "fillings")
This is the (very!) easy pizza crust recipe that I use most of the time (for all homemade pizza, not just pockets). It's simple, cooks up nicely, and is pretty forgiving.
Ingredients for pizza crust:
• 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
• 1 tablespoon white sugar
• 1 packet active dry yeast (.25 oz)
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 1/2 cups flour (you can use All Purpose flour or wheat flour or a combination of those two)
• Optional - Season to taste. (I like to add in a tablespoon (or two!) of garlic powder, Italian seasoning is great too!)
1. Stir warm water, sugar and yeast together until dissolved. Let sit for a few minutes so the yeast has a chance to get bubbly and happy. Add the olive oil and the salt. Stir in the flour until well blended. Dough should be smooth and not overly sticky. You can knead the dough at this point, adding in small amounts of flour if needed to achieve a smooth dough. Leave dough to rest for 10 minutes.
2. lightly dust your working space with cornmeal to prevent sticking (you can use flour, but the cornmeal gives a nice crunch to the crust. I've found that sometimes too much flour residue leaves an icky floury taste to the crust). Gently, using a rolling pin (and your hands!) work the dough out until it is quite thin. The thinner the better!
I am not the best roller-outer. I tend to shy away from a lot of recipes that require the use of a rolling pin. But pizza dough is, as I said before, very forgiving. It's okay if it's not rolled out perfectly. You can use the parts of your rolled out dough that are rolled out well and then re-knead it and roll out again as you go. The dough will become more firm and result in a chewier crust the more you work it, but in my opinion that is not a bad thing when it comes to pizza crust! (unlike, say, sugar cookies!)
* If you have a bread machine you can also make a pizza dough in that. I just follow the basic recipe that is printed in our bread machine manual/cookbook.
** If you don't want to mess with making your own dough or crust at all you may check with your local bakery for dough. Even our Publix will sell fresh pizza dough out of the bakery department. You just have to ask for it and they bag it right up for you!
*** If you want a really super short-cut you can buy pizza dough from the ready-to-go tubes. I'm happy that this pizza crust is free of trans fats.
For my last batch of homemade pizza pockets these are the products I used:
Of course you can use any sauce you like. I happen to love this one. My husband and I have been attempting to make our own marinara sauce for years and have been disappointed with the outcome time and time again. This one is my fall-back. I think it's great.
Use whatever cheese you prefer. I usually buy large blocks of mozzarella from Costco or the bags of shredded Italian blend cheese with parmesan, romano and other yummy flavors (my fave). But this one was on a super sale so I deviated from my norm.
For other toppings I used turkey pepperoni and (not pictured) diced mushrooms and I snuck in some broccoli too (which my son spied while eating. I had to feign ignorance and say it must just come in the sauce...LOL). Use whatever you like here! I would normally have used olives too, but forgot. My son reminded me as he was eating them later. ;-)
Assembling the pizza pockets:
There were two things I did differently this time that I think helped the pizza pockets turn out well. The first thing was I drained out some of the excess moisture from the marinara sauce. I just folded up a paper towel into four layers on a plate and them scooped about a 1/2 cup of sauce on top. After a few minutes the paper towels were soaking wet and the sauce was much thicker. Because the sauce wasn't so wet it didn't saturate the dough - allowing the crust to get a lot more crusty than I had before, also, none of the sauce ran out of the pockets!
The other thing I did (though I'm thinking this was secondary to draining the sauce) - but instead of putting the sauce down on the dough first (as you would when making regular pizza), I put down a cheese layer first and the sauce on top. I'm thinking maybe as the cheese melted it helped create a barrier so that the sauce didn't soggy up the crust. That's just me guessing. ;-)
So with the dough laid out I gently pressed my outline of the pockets into the dough to give me a border to make sure the toppings were in the middle. I used my sandwich sealer for this (you can find the same one on JList), but you could use anything for it - a large cookie cutter, a glass, etc.
The sandwich sealer worked great for me because it sealed all the edges easily and in one motion. If you are using a regular cookie cutter you will need to press all the edges firmly with your fingers to seal closed. Poke a couple small holes in the top. I'm not exactly certain you need to do this, but I do anyway.
Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for about 8 minutes. KEEP AN EYE ON THEM!!! I set the timer for 6 minutes and then peaked in on them obsessively until they were golden brown. All ovens vary and depending on the temperature of your dough when it went in, the placement of them in the oven, what you are baking them on and the direction the wind is blowing outside, your cooking results may differ from mine!
I baked mine on a pizza stone (our stone always lives on the bottom of our oven), but you can use a baking sheet too. Because I use cornmeal on the dough there is no sticking issues at all. But if you are making these without cornmeal you might want to use parchment paper or a very light spritz of baking spray on your baking sheet...I'd hate to think of the pizza pocket bottom being stuck to the tray!
From that one tube of pizza crust I made these 7 pizza pockets and there was a small amount of dough left to make a small personal-sized regular pizza. Of course, your mileage may vary depending on the sizes of pizza pockets you make. I made some that were more square, and others I made more narrow. You might want to size and shape yours to fit the size lunchbox you are fitting it into.
I can't tell you how many pizza pockets you'd be able to get out of the pizza dough recipe I posted above. What happens at my house is that we make the dough to make a big regular pizza for the whole family and I save back some of the dough to make pizza pockets out of for later.
These keep in the fridge for a week or so (I've never kept them longer than a week), or you can freeze them too. To reheat I heat in the microwave until they are soft. If they have moisture on them after microwaving you can put them in a hot pan (no oil or spray) and flip over a few times until nice and crispy again. This extra step I will do for my son, but my daughter could care less. ;-)
Top photo shows pizza pockets in a Laptop Lunches box. :)