Pizza

May 31, 2011

I wanted to share one of our family staples with you. We make pizza a couple of times each month, if not more.

Dough

If you have a kitchen aide mixer with a dough hook, pizza dough is very simple to make. I make it so frequently that I don’t use a cook book. Here’s the recipe:

Fill a measuring cup with 2 cups of warm water. Sprinkle in 1 tablespoon of yeast. Add this to your mixing bowl and add a good dose of olive oil (2-3 tablespoons or maybe a bit more). Add about 1 teaspoon salt. Attach the dough hook, and turn the mixer on. Begin adding flour. I use whole wheat flour, but I sometimes add a bit of white flour, too. Anyway, add flour until the dough comes together and cleans the sides of the bowl. It should feel sort of like a baby’s bottom. That’s really the best way I know how to describe it. Not too firm, but definitely not sticky. I’ll estimate that it will take about five cups. Once the dough comes together, lift it out of the bowl. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the bowl. Rub the dough in the olive oil and use it to coat the bowl. The oil coating the dough will keep it from drying out, and it will also prevent the dough from sticking to the bowl. Cover the bowl with a towel and let it rise in a warm place until it’s roughly doubled (maybe an hour?).

If my recipe is too loose for you, click here to get a pizza dough recipe from epicurious. You can also use Trader Joe’s pizza dough. If you are on a gluten-free diet, Namaste makes a good pizza crust.

Here’s the pizza dough in the bowl after letting it rise for an hour:

If you’re using a pizza stone, heat the oven to 500 degrees.

We use a pizza stone, and we love it. I’m going to share our process using a pizza stone. But, you could definitely build the pizzas on a cookie sheet. You’ll likely need to lower the temperature a bit if you’re using a cookie sheet so that the bottom doesn’t burn before the rest of the pizza is cooked.

I’ve adopted Charlie’s method of rolling out pizza crust. Use a large cutting board. Lay down a piece of parchment. Plop a piece of pizza dough on the parchment, then cover the dough with another piece of parchment. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough. We’ve been making thin crust pizza, and this works very well. After you get the dough rolled out, remove the top layer of parchment. Using parchment on the bottom of the crust makes scooting the pizza into the oven very easy. Just leave the bottom layer of parchment on to cook the pizza.

You can build the pizza either on a cutting board or on a pizza peel. Our pizza peel was a splurge a couple of years ago, but we have gotten a ton of use out of it.

Toppings

olive oil
garlic or garlic salt
Trader Joe’s pizza sauce
pepperoni
mozzarella
blue cheese
goat cheese
anchovies
mushrooms
peppers
kalamata olives
potatoes (very thinly sliced)

In case you don’t know how to build a pizza, our general formula is to put down a layer of sauce or olive oil and garlic salt. Add the toppings, with the cheese going on last. The only exception is that if you’re using pepperoni, add the pepperoni last. This way, it gets nice and crispy on top of the pizza. Also, try to make sure that the toppings go to the edges of the pizza.

Our family’s favorite combinations include:

pizza sauce, pepperoni, mushrooms, olives and mozzarella
olive oil, thinly sliced garlic, anchovies and mozzarella (if you like garlic and anchovies, this is decadent!)
potato with blue cheese, mozzarella and rosemary

We usually make several smallish pizzas so that everyone has their pick of pizza. The children enjoy building their own pizzas.

This pizza is ready to slide on to the pizza stone.

After you have your pizza built, slide it onto the hot stone using the peel. Set the timer for 8 minutes. Sometimes it takes longer, but thin crust pizza cooks fairly quickly. You can count on it taking 8 to 10 minutes.

This is a meal that we’ve enjoyed making with company. People usually enjoy the process. But, with pizza, cooking is an event. Your friends will need to be game for rolling their sleeves up and pitching in. Otherwise, you’ll be distracted with cooking instead of enjoying your friends. But, if your friends are ready to help, it’s a fun shared activity.

Any other pizza chefs or connoisseurs out there? What’s your favorite combo? As always, I’m happy to answer questions if you have them.

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4 Responses to “Pizza”

  1. layer Says:

    i like the namaste pizza crust a lot, but for a thicker crust i use jacqueline mallorca’s recipe for quick white rice flour flatbread from her book “the wheat-free cook.” it requires a food processor since the primary ingredient is almonds, but it’s so worth it. i like to add italian seasoning to the dough (i pre-bake the crust), then top it with olive oil, mozzerella and black olives. if i’m feeling really adventurous i’ll add anchovies and/or garbanzo beans for a little more protein. in fact… i think i’ll make one right now, your pictures just look so delicious.

    • Robin Johnson Simpson Says:

      Yummy! Charlie sometimes pre-bakes the crust, too. I’m too lazy. What type of italian seasoning do you use in your crust? I want to try it.

  2. layer Says:

    it’s just a store bought mix that contains oregano, marjoram, thyme, rosemary, basil and sage. would probably be even better if you have them in your garden.

  3. Andy Says:

    This looks way better than Chuck E. Cheese…which is where I’ll be eating pizza tonight!


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