09 December 2013

Maker Monday: "Mommy Pizza"

At some point about a year ago, I got it into my head to conquer pizza. I'd tried making dough a dozen years ago and ended up with a long-standing fear of yeast. I'd made a big mess in my kitchen and then discovered that you could buy ready-made dough from the store. 

For whatever reason I finally decided to face my fears and researched a lot. The interwebs told me I could make a dough without a lot of kneading (and Cook's Illustrated helped) and could roll it out without everything getting coated in dough bits - not quite as much fun as tossing it in the air, but just as tasty (and feasible for me). Cook's also started me in my sauce path, though the addition of basil into the sauce via the crushed tomatoes was my own genius (I wanted the flavor but knew the kids would object to big green leaves on the pizza plus finding nice basil all year round just isn't in the cards. The internet also gave me the idea to incorporate the broiler. 

The pesto pizza came late to the game but is now a necessary component for me and Nick. Just be careful! I set a blind-baked crust on fire one night when the oven rack was one rung higher than usual. Oh, was that dramatic! I ended up covering it with a baking sheet and letting it smother. The good thing is that the oven is the safest place for a small fire :)

Anyway, the best thing is how forgiving the dough is. No specialized equipment needed! No Kitchenaid, Cuisinart, or laborious kneading. I think you could even get away without pizza tiles and peel, just using a couple of baking sheets (one in the oven to heat up and a second to get the pies into and out of the oven). Mix up that dough and leave it alone. It only requires a tiny bit of planning to have your own scrumptious pizza!

Pizza dough
3 cups bread flour plus more for counter
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 packet dry yeast
1 3/4 cups hot water plus up to another tablespoon depending upon humidity
2 tablespoons olive oil plus more for bowl 
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Cornmeal for sprinkling

Whisk flours and yeast together in large bowl. Whisk water, salt, oil, and honey together in two-cup liquid measure (or small bowl). Pour liquid into flour mixture and mix together with rubber spatula. If mixture is dry, add 1-3 teaspoons of water. Dough should come together into a shaggy ball at this point. Drizzle oil into bowl and roll ball to coat it and sides of bowl. Cover bowl and set aside to rise for at least an hour. If you won't be proceeding for more than four hours, refrigerate for up to eight hours. 
Preheat oven with pizza stone or tiles set on middle rack to 500 degrees 1 hour beforehand. 
Uncover, punch down dough, and reform into a ball. Sprinkle clean counter with flour and divide ball into four. Sprinkle balls with flour and cover with plastic wrap for approximately 30 minutes. 
Sprinkle a handful of cornmeal onto a sheet of parchment paper and place one piece of dough in center. Cover with plastic wrap and press dough to flatten. Repeat with remaining three pieces of dough. Roll out dough allowing it to rest for a few minutes at a time until you have an oval approximately 10 x 14". 

All the ingredients

Just-mixed dough

Risen dough

Divided and resting dough

Tomato sauce
28 ounce can crushed tomatoes (with basil for preference)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves minced garlic

Heat olive oil in saucepan. Add garlic and tomato paste and heat for 1 minute. Add crushed tomatoes and simmer for 30 minutes. Set aside until ready to use. 

Simmered tomato sauce

Pizza assembly
Olive oil
Mozzarella (sliced from a 1 pound fresh cheese for preference, though you could use shredded)
Pesto (optional)

Remove plastic wrap carefully from dough. Spread 1 teaspoon olive oil over prepared dough "round". Spread 3-4 tablespoons tomato sauce over dough (a thin layer is best or crust will be soggy). Place 1/4 of the cheese evenly over sauce. 
Slide pizza onto preheated stone and bake for 6 minutes. Switch to broiler for 2 minutes. Remove from oven, switching back to 500 degrees and allowing oven to return to temperature. Slice pizza and serve. 
Repeat with remaining dough. 
I usually blind bake one pizza round with just olive oil and then spread pesto over it after it comes out of the oven. 
Remaining sauce and cheese may be frozen for future use. Dough balls may also be frozen, but I always make four pizzas. 

Prepared pizza ready for the oven

Baked pizza

Pesto pizza (there is a danger of burning the blank crust, so be careful!)

In our house it's called "Mommy Pizza" to distinguish it from delivery. The crust is thin and crisp and the sauce quite tasty. 

Let me know if you give it a go, and thanks for stopping by!
xoxo, Kathleen 

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