(Title hummed to 2 Pac’s “Gangster Party”. What? You mean you don’t own the 2-disc set of his greatest hits? Tragic, doesn’t begin to describe this situation.)
I found this recipe on The Way the Cookie Crumbles, and have to give huge loads of praise to Bridget, as it is perfection on a platter. In her post, she gave herself a hard time for “being so braggy”, but she should brag about this one to anyone who will listen, and even people who are only half listening.
It really needed no changes, but being me, and having the “need” to concoct that I do, I made a few minor tweaks to suit our tastes. I have reflected those changes in the recipe below. This has become the request for “pizza night”, and I couldn’t be more excited about it. Not only does this mean that I know exactly what we’re putting into our meal, it also keeps us from having to wait for delivery and pouncing on the pizza guy like two rabid dogs.
Making pizza from scratch really isn’t difficult at all. I think a big part of that comes from the fact that this is a very easy dough to work with, so there is no need to get all nervous about making bread products. The dough yields 2 to 4 “personal” plate size pizzas, depending on crust thickness, and a 4 to 6 serving portion of garlic sticks. I love this, because we can each have a pizza topped with what we want, and then have left-overs for the next day or two, depending on how hungry we were the first night.
Jim’s with Cheese, Sausage, Mushrooms, and Onions
Mine with Cheese, Sausage, Mushrooms, Onions, Peppers, Black Olives, and Tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for rising
- ½ teaspoon dried herbs, i.e. oregano or Penzey’s Pasta Sprinkle
- 22 ounces (4 cups) bread flour
- 1¾ teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- ¼ cups white wine (vermouth works as well)
- 1½ cups water
- cornmeal for dusting
- 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
- salt and pepper
- 5 cloves garlic, roasted*
- 2 Tbsp to ¼ cup fresh basil, torn
- 10 ounces (2½ cups) part-skim mozzarella, shredded or sliced
- 2 ounces (1 cup) parmesan, grated
toppings of your choice, such as:
- Sausage – hot, mild, pork, turkey, chicken, etc.
- Bell Peppers
- Black Olives
- Diced Tomatoes
- Fresh Mozzarella
- Sausage – hot, mild, pork, turkey, chicken, etc.
- 6 cloves garlic, roasted*
- 6 Tbsp butter, room temperature
- 1 tsp Kosher salt, added to taste
- ¾ cup pizza sauce
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
For the dough:
- Heat the oil and herbs in a small saucepan over low heat until fragrant. Mix in the water and wine.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast. With the mixer on low speed, pour in the liquid mixture. Continue mixing on medium-low speed until the dough comes together, and then knead on medium-low speed for 8 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add more flour or water as necessary to form a dough that is sticky but does not cling to the sides of the bowl. When the mixer is running on medium-low speed, the dough should not stick to the bottom of the bowl.
- Drizzle about 2 Tbsp of olive oil into the bowl. Rub your hands on the sprayed bowl to coat them with oil, then quickly form the dough into a ball. Place the ball of dough in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
- Either set the dough aside to rise at room temperature, which will take 1½ to 2 hours, or refrigerate it until the next day. If it’s chilled overnight, it will take about 5 hours at room temperature to warm and finish rising. You can also reduce the yeast to ½ teaspoon and let the dough rise on the counter for about 8 hours after it has been chilled overnight.
For the sauce:
- Pulse the tomatoes in a food processor 10-12 times, until they’re pureed.
- Transfer them to a fine-mesh strainer set over a large bowl and let them drain, stirring occasionally for at least 10 minutes. You can get away with less time if you actively stir and press the tomatoes through the strainer; if you wait longer, you can stir less.
- Transfer the tomatoes from the strainer back to the bowl of the food processor or previous bowl, and roasted garlic, basil, and salt and pepper to taste. Start adding to the sauce slowly, tasting along the way. You can always add in more seasoning, but once it’s in there, . . . well, you know the rest.
- Place a pizza stone on the bottom rack of the oven and preheat the oven to 500ºC. Place the garlic on the hot pizza stone for 3-4 minutes or until fragrant.
- Divide the dough and shape each portion into a ball. You have a few options of how to divide it. It makes enough dough for three 12-inch pizzas. However, I always cut it in half and freeze half. Then I divide the remaining dough into two more parts, one twice the size of the other. I make the larger one into pizza and the smaller into cheese bread (no sauce or toppings). Let the balls of dough relax for 10-30 minutes.
- Using tongs remove the garlic from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes. Mince.
- Work with one ball of dough at a time on a lightly floured surface. Flatten the dough, then pick it up and gently stretch it out, trying to keep it as circular as possible. Curl your fingers and let the dough hang on your knuckles, moving and rotating the dough so it stretches evenly. If it tears, just piece it together. If the dough stretches too much, put it down and gently tug on the thick spots.
- Dust a pizza peel lightly with cornmeal and transfer the round of dough to the peel. Rearrange the dough to something reasonably circular; stab it several times with a fork. Add 1/3 of each of the garlic, sauce, and cheese, followed by toppings of your preference, and then transfer to a hot pizza stone.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and the crust is spotty brown. Let the pizza cool on the peel for about 5 minutes before slicing and serving. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
Garlic Bread Sticks:
- If using hand blender, place garlic, salt, and butter into blender cup and blend until smooth. Otherwise, mince garlic as finely as possible and blend into butter and salt. You’ll have to taste the mixture when you first make it, as you want the salt to bring out the garlic flavor rather than overpower it.
- Shape the reserved dough into a rectangle of your desired thickness. I usually aim for a 11×14″ sized sheet.
- Spread butter mixture over dough, leaving a slight edge. If you wanted a cheesy bread, you could sprinkle with mozzarella and/or parmesan at this point.
- Bake for 10 minutes at 500º. Allow to cool slightly before cutting.
- If you want a dipping sauce, simply use some extra pizza sauce. I give ours a kick by blending in some crushed red pepper flakes.
- You can substitute up to 7 ounces (about 1½ cups) of whole wheat flour for the white bread flour, but expect longer rising times and a more stubborn dough. But if you’re patient during shaping, your crust will be just as light and crisp as dough made completely with white flour.
- Another important aspect of pizza crust is how you work with it. Be gentle with your dough. I need to stress that you really don’t want to use a rolling pin. Pull and stretch the dough. Pick it up, hanging the edges on your knuckles, and let gravity do the work. If it’s tearing or thinning unevenly, put it back down and just pull at the thicker parts. If it’s fighting you, walk away for five minutes to let it relax.
I’ve used the roasted garlic in olive oil from the olive bar at the grocery store, but you can also roast your own. Place a pizza stone on the bottom rack of the oven and preheat the oven to 500ºC. Place the garlic on the hot pizza stone for 3-4 minutes or until fragrant.