From Scratch, With Love


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My absolutely favorite thing to make and eat is Pizza.  Is that too boring?  Here’s a little more boring: my favorite kind of pizza is plain.  I’m ok with that.  However, lately when I’ve made pizza, I have been branching out a little with ingredients.  Last night I made what I call “Pizza Caprese” because it uses the ingredients of a traditional caprese salad: fresh mozzerella, tomato, and basil.  Boring, you say?  Well you’re hard to please!

I’m not one of those people who sneers at takeout pizza either (Papa).  I really like a good takeout pizza.  I’m not a huge fan of the chains, but the smaller restaurants, like Amici’s here in New Jersey and Vace‘s in DC make me very in happy.  In fact, my mouth waters at the thought of them.  I don’t eat pizza quite as often as I used to (I think one week I had it three times) because I tend to overeat when it comes to pizza, but now I appreciate it much more.

When I make my crust, I use a good amount of whole wheat flour, for flavor.  I also don’t have a pizza pan or pizza stone, so I just use a cookie sheet and it has never been a problem.  I sometimes make my own sauce, and I sometimes just use generic tomato “sauce” in a can with a good amount of minced garlic.  Unfortunately, I didn’t take pictures of the pizza dough making process, so you’ll have to imagine it looks a lot like the baguette making process.

Andrea’s Pizza Dough (makes one medium pizza)

In a large bowl, combine

3/4 cups warm (not hot) water
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast

Allow the mixture to sit for five minutes while the yeast dissolves.  When it dissolves, gradually stir in about 3/4 cup whole wheat flour until the mixture becomes a thick batter.  At this point, stop adding flour and stir vigorously for about 5 minutes, using a wooden spoon or an electric mixer.  Stop stirring and let the batter sit for a few minutes until you see bubbles form on the surface (or you get tired of waiting).  This tells you that the yeast has been activated.

Sprinkle about 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp sugar over the top of the dough.  Drizzle in 2 Tbs of extra virgin olive oil. Scooping from underneath the dough, gently fold it until the oil has been incorporated.  From this point forward, instead of stirring, you will be folding.  Gradually add all purpose white flour or bread flour until the dough is more dough-like (about a cup more) and starts to form a ball.

Cover a clean kneading surface with some white flour.  Dump the dough onto the flour.  Sprinkle some flour on top of the dough and on your hands.  Knead the dough for about ten minutes, until it is smooth and not sticky.  If you need kneading (hah) tips, the Internet is a great resource.

Wash the bowl you used for the dough and oil the inside with olive oil.  Place the dough in the bowl and turn once to coat with oil.  Cover loosely with a clean cloth, damp paper towel, or plastic wrap (I actually just use the lid for the bowl) and allow to rise until doubled in volume (depending on the age of your yeast, it should take an hour or less).

Once the dough has risen, divide it into however many pizzas you’re making with a sharp knife (I only made one pizza).  Give it a quick knead and lay it on a light coating of flour or cornmeal on the counter, covered with a damp paper towel (to keep it from drying out) to rise again.

Andrea’s Caprese Pizza

Preheat the oven to 450 and start preparing your toppings.  I used thinly sliced one onion, one tomato, some fresh or frozen basil leaves (chopped roughly), and 4 oz of fresh mozzerella cheese.  I also minced some two cloves of garlic for the (8 oz of) tomato sauce (I know using tomatoes and sauce is redundant but I’m really into sauce).  Try to slice your vegetables really thin so they cook faster.

The dough should have risen some by now.  Grease your pizza pan(s) lightly with olive oil.  On the counter, gently flatten the dough a little so that it becomes disc-like.  Drape it over your knuckles and stretch it out a little with your  knuckles.  It’s hard to explain, but let gravity do the work and make sure you move it so that it stretches evenly.  At this point you can throw it around a bit if you’ve got mad skills, or put it on the pizza pan and stretch it out that way.  Try to work the dough evenly or you’re be left with pizza that is too thin in places and possibly even pizza that has holes.

Now some people brush a little olive oil on their pizza.  I don’t but I see the logic.  Try it if you want.

Spread the pizza sauce you’re using on the pizza along with garlic.

Next, arrange the onions evenly on the top of the pizza, then the fresh mozzerella.

Next, spread the tomato slices evenly over the stop of the pizza and sprinkle it with basil.  Lastly, grate some parmesan cheese over the top.

Done.  Bake it in the oven for 10 minutes, until the bottom of the crust starts to brown.

Slide it from the pan onto a large cutting board.  Allow it to cool for about five minutes before slicing.  Eat it!


Written by poperatzii

May 29, 2010 at 3:48 pm

One Response

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  1. […] about an hour and a half, including making the dough (remember when I shared my method of making dough?).  The ingredients are simple and summery, especially if you have some leftover chicken lying […]

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