It’s Not Delivery….
It’s a blessing and a curse – I prefer my pizza over any of the other rackets in town… wait, what am I talking about? It’s a blessing, pure and simple. Only good things come of it.
The secret to perfect pizza is to keep it simple. My absolute favorite homemade pizza is adorned with only broken tomatoes, mozzarella and parmesan, and finished with olive oil and freshly ground black pepper. Of course, here and there I’ll top my pie with some prosciutto or caramelized onions, but when it boils down to it, simpler is better.
The other trick is the dough. I prefer mine to be thin; a little chewy in the center, and gradually crispy as it makes its way out toward the crust. I’ve tried many-a-dough, but have found an alteration of this one to be the best.
The final important factor in homemade pizza is a very hot oven, and preheated stone or baking pan. Crank the temperature of your oven up as high as it will go – I typically use the broil temperature (not the broil setting, which would really mess things up!), and let it preheat for at least 30 minutes.
The bonus of the simple toppings and perfect dough is that making ah-mazing pizza at home couldn’t be easier, if you follow my…
Rules for Pizza Awesomeness:
1. Mix up a shaggy dough (I personally have found that your own two hands work SO much better than a wooden spoon could ever hope to!).
2. Knead the dough 8-10 times until smooth (do not over-knead! Unless you want your dough to be tough and difficult to work with, in which case, what kind of twisted person are you?)
3. Oil the bowl you originally mixed up the dough in, roll the dough around in there to coat with oil, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for 2-3 hours, until doubled in size. When dough has doubled, knead again (I just do it in the bowl) 2-3 times to deflate, place back into covered bowl for an additional 30-plus minutes. Preheat the oven (and a pizza stone or large baking sheet) to 500 degrees.
4. Open a can of whole tomatoes (preferably unsalted, in juice) and break up, using hands.
4. Slice some fresh mozzarella (please don’t use the old stuff sold in a square shape, OK?).
5. Grate some parmesan (again, with the demands: do not even consider shaking the parmesan out of a container. Get off your
lazy stingy beautiful butt and grate some cheese. You’ll thank me later).
6. Divide the dough in two, and work it, baby work it. Honestly, I do not have a consistent technique for dealing with the dough, other than my mantra of patience, patience, patience. Sometime I flatten it with a rolling pin, and sometimes I stretch it gently and slowly between my fists. It depends on the day, my mood, the humidity, and the temperature. So do whatever you need to do. But do it carefully, and with some TLC. And if things get really ugly, step away, pour yourself a glass of wine, let the gluten chill out a bit, and try again in 10 minutes. The dough does not have to be perfectly uniform in shape. If it’s not, just call it rustic! Transfer the dough to a large sheet or parchment paper, and place on top of an 11×17 overturned baking sheet (or, if you’re fancy, a pizza peel). (I am not fancy).
7. Top with half, or maybe a little less than half, of the broken tomatoes.
8. Follow that with half of the mozzarella and parmesan.
9. Slip the pizza, parchment included, onto the preheated stone or baking sheet. Bake for 10-13 minutes, until cheese is blistered and bubbling.
10. Let cool for 1-2 minutes prior to slicing. Drizzle with olive oil and freshly ground black pepper. Devour pizza. Declare never to order delivery again. Pat yourself on the back. Make your husband do the dishes.
Recipe for Pizza Awesomeness
Makes two pizzas
- Basic pizza dough (recipe follows)
- 28 oz. canned whole tomatoes in their juices (preferably unsalted)
- 16 oz. fresh mozzarella
- 2 cups finely grated parmesan cheese
- olive oil
- freshly ground black pepper
30 minutes prior to baking, set a pizza stone or baking sheet into oven, and crank the temperature knob up as high as you can (500+ degrees).
Drain tomatoes. Using hands, break into pieces approximately 1/2 to 1 inch in size. Slice mozzarella into 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces.
Divide dough in half, stretch into two roughly 12-inch diameter crusts.
Tear off a piece of parchment a little larger than the dough. Set the parchment, and then the dough, on top of an overturned 11×17 inch baking sheet. Top the dough with tomatoes, then mozzarella, then parmesan. Keep the outter 1/2 inch of the crust free of toppings.
Using the parchment paper, transfer one the pizzas off of the overturned baking sheet and onto the hot pizza stone or pan (it is absolutely OK to cook the heck out of the parchment). Bake for 10-13 minutes, until cheese is melted and blistered, and crust is dark brown in color. Remove pizza from oven, let cool 1-2 minutes prior to slicing. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.
Repeat cooking process with the other pizza.
Basic Pizza Dough
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2 teaspoons table salt
- Scant 1 1/4 cup lukewarm water (about 100 degrees)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
Stir dry ingredients in large bowl. Using hands, mix wet ingredients in until just combined. Dump onto floured surface and knead 8-10 times until dough is a smooth ball.
Coat bowl with olive oil, and roll dough around bowl a few times to coat with oil as well. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit until doubled in size, 2-3 hours. Knead dough 2-3 more times to deflate (I do this in the mixing bowl, no reason to gum up the counter again), cover and let sit for an additional 30 minutes to an hour.