I love a good thin-crust pizza with everything and anything on it. And yes, our fair city can provide such a delicacy. However, what happens when you find some delicious, fresh summer vegetable or your new favorite cheese or you want to combine toppings never combined before? Fuhgettaboutit! You make your own.
You can make the dough ahead of time so you are ready when the inspiration strikes…or you can buy prepared dough from your local pizzeria or grocery store…who said that?! Either way, it is a fun, easy and delicious way to make and have a summer meal with family and friends.
- Generous pinch of sugar
- 1 1/4 cups warm water
- (about 110 degrees)
- One 1/4-oz active dry yeast
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil,
- plus more for drizzling
- 2 cups bread flour
- 1 to 1 1/4 cups whole-wheat
- wholemeal or white whole-wheat
- wholemeal flour
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- Cornmeal or semolina flour
- 4 to 6 oz cheese, such as shredded
- or fresh mozzarella, burrata
- or fresh ricotta
- 2 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
- 2 to 4 handfuls fresh veggies such
- as sliced tomatoes, arugula,
- shaved zucchini, kale, Swiss
- chard, corn, spinach or mus
- rooms, shallots
- Handful of fresh herbs,
- such as basil
- Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Fine sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
To make the dough, whisk a pinch of sugar–the yeast’s food–into the warm water in a small bowl and sprinkle the yeast over the top.
Stir 3 cups of flour and the salt together in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer to combine. Reserve 1/4 cup flour for later. Make a well in the center and pour in the yeast mixture. Stir with a fork or the mixer’s dough hook. If making the dough by hand, stir vigorously with a wooden spoon to work the gluten for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth. Then turn onto a lightly floured countertop and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes, adding small sprinkles of flour as needed just to keep it from sticking. If you’re using a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, beat on high speed until the dough comes together and slaps the side of the bowl, about 5 minutes, adding up to 1/4 cup more flour as needed to create a cohesive ball.
Divide the dough in half, for large pizzas, or quarters, for small pizzas, and form into balls. Place each ball of dough in a lightly oiled plastic bag, seal and refrigerate overnight or for up to three days. It can also be frozen for up to a week.
Remove the dough from the fridge 2 hours before you plan to cook. Oil one bowl for each pizza you are making. Turn each dough ball in the bowl to coat in oil; cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Draw a circle around the top to mark where the dough is now, so you can watch it expand. Set aside in a warm place until doubled, about 2 hours.
Position a pizza stone on the bottom rack of your oven. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees at least 45 minutes before you plan to bake the pizzas.
Lightly dust a clean countertop and the dough with flour. Press and pat each ball of dough into a rectangle or round. Once you have the basic shape you want, stretch the dough by draping it over the back of your hands and wrists, letting it hang down so gravity does the work. For larger pizzas, aim for a 7-by-12-inch rectangle or a 12-inch round; for individual pizzas, aim for a 6-to-9-inch round or rectangle for smaller pizzas and flatbreads, depending on how thick you like your dough…or whatever unique shape you create. Cover the dough with a towel until baking.
Generously dust a pizza peel or baking sheet with cornmeal and lay on the dough, shaking the peel or sheet back and forth a little to make sure the dough slides easily.
Chop or slice all the vegetables into small pieces that will cook quickly in the hot oven. Using the idea “less is more,” top the pizzas with any topping that needs to be cooked or melted, like cheese, sliced garlic, mushrooms and small pieces of vegetables that need to be cooked through, dividing the toppings between all the dough.
Slide the pizza onto the stone or cook directly on the baking sheet and bake larger pizzas one at a time, smaller ones two at a time, until puffed, crisp and evenly baked through, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Remove and top with fresh and raw ingredients like shaved corn, sliced tomatoes, fresh basil, arugula or herbs. Shave or grate fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano over the top, drizzle with your best olive oil and season with salt and black pepper.
Enjoy, get eating and thanks for reading!
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Kysha Harris is owner of SCHOP! which is available for weekly service or for home entertaining. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Email kysha@iSCHOP.com.