Recipe for Black Pepper-Lard Pizza Dough


1 cup warm tap water (110 to 115 degrees)
1 pkg active dry yeast
3 to 3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 heaping tablespoons naturally rende; red pork lard


1. Pour the water into a medium-sized mixing bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Stir gently with a fork until the yeast has dissolved and the liquid turns light beige in color.

2. Add 1 cup of the flour, the salt, pepper and lard. Mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon. Add a second cup of flour to the bowl and mix well. After the second cup of flour has been mixed in, the dough should start coming away from the sides of the bowl and should begin to form a soft,sticky mass.

3. Measure out the third cup of flour. Sprinkle some over the work surface and flour your hands generously. Remove all of the dough from the bowl and begin to work the mass by kneading the additional flour in a bit at a time.

4. To knead the dough, use the heel of your hands to push the dough across the floured work surface in one sweep. Clench the dough in your fist and twist and fold it over. Use the dough scraper to help gather the wet dough that sticks to the work surface into a ball while kneading. Repeat this action over and over again, adding only as much flour as it takes to keep the dough from sticking to your hands. Work quickly and don't be delicate. Slap and push the dough around to develop its gluten and to facilitate its rolling out. (Kneading pizza dough is a great way to relieve pent-up aggression!)

5. When the dough no longer feels sticky, push the heel of your hand down into it and hold it there for 10 seconds. This will test its readiness;if your hand comes up clean, the dough is done. If it sticks, a bit more kneading will be necessary. Once the dough is no longer sticky, do not overwork it by adding more flour. Continue kneading only until the dough is smooth and elastic (it should spring back when pressed) and no lines of raw white flour show. The whole process should take 5 to 10 minutes.

6. Lightly oil a 2 quart bowl with vegetable oil. Roll the ball of dough around in the bowl to coat it with a thin film of oil. Tightly seal the bowl with plastic wrap to trap in the moisture and heat from the yeast's carbon dioxide gases. This will help the dough rise faster.

7. Place the bowl in a warm, draft-free place. Let the dough rise for 30 to 45 minutes.

8. Once the dough has doubled in bulk, punch it down by pushing your fist into it. All of the gases will quickly escape, and the dough will collapse. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead it again for about 1 minute.

9. The dough is now ready to be patted and rolled into pizza, or to undergo additional rising.

10. To raise dough a second time, add a bit more oil to the bowl and repeat the procedure indicated for the first rising. Then the dough is ready to be shaped.

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