Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Pizza Snob

All pizza in not created equal! I’m a pizza snob, and refuse to eat just any old pizza. Several years ago the owners of our favorite Italian restaurant retired. This meant no more Chicken Picana, Mushroom Ravioli in Cream Sauce, or Pasta with Marinara. It also meant no more pizza! It’s taken several years of experimentation, but I’ve finally come close to recreating that much missed pizza. It will never be quite the same, but it’s close enough!

The pizza dough recipe comes from the King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook and is reprinted here with permission from King Arthur Flour. Check out the King Arthur web-site. The secret to the crust is letting the dough rest 20 to 30 minutes after rolling and decorating, and preheating the oven for 20 minutes prior to baking the pizza.

What to bake your pizza on? This is a matter of personal choice. Some people swear by stones. This is one piece of kitchenware I do not own, but Bella does and insists it is the best possible way to bake pizza. The perforated aluminum pizza pans I use work very nicely, too. And then there is the plain old cookie sheet. It all works!

Traditional Pizza Dough

(Makes enough dough for 2 18” pizzas)

1-3/4 c. warm water

1 Tbsp sugar

1 packet or 1 Tbsp active dry yeast

6 c. All Purpose Flour

¼ c. olive oil

1 Tbsp salt

Bread machine: Measure all ingredients into bread bucket. Set bucket in machine and press to click into place. Set machine to dough cycle, and start. Keep an eye on the dough while it mixes as it will probably be necessary to add a little bit of water to achieve a firm but elastic dough.

By hand: Pour the water into a mixing bowl and dissolve in it the sugar and the yeast. When the yeast is active, add your first cup of flour, then the oil and salt. Add another 4-1/2 cups of flour, mixing with a large spoon until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl and hold together. Kneading: Sprinkle the last ½ cup of flour onto your kneading surface. Turn out the dough and knead until it begins to feel as if it really belongs together, adding only enough flour to keep it from sticking to the board or you. Let is rest while you clean and grease your bowl. Continue kneading the relaxed dough until it feels smooth and springy.

Rising options:

  1. Full rise in a bread machine is equivalent to the dough cycle. By hand—form the dough into a nice ball, place it in the greased bowl, turning it so the top is lightly greased also. Cover it and put it where it will be warm and cozy (no drafts). Let this rise, until it is doubled (when you can poke your finger in it and the dough doesn’t spring back at you).
  2. Slow rise is so you can make the dough ahead of time (K.A. says this dough has the best flavor). Make the dough using half the amount of yeast the morning of the day you plan to use it. Cover the dough with oiled plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. It will rise happily all day. About 15 minutes after you take it out, the dough will be ready to roll out and decorate.
  3. No-rise: For the spur-of-the-moment party—just give your dough a 5 to 10 minute rest. It won’t have quite the flavor or be as light and fluffy as a fully risen dough, but it will be “better than store bought.”

Dough can be used immediately or frozen for later use. If the dough is to be frozen, divide into two equal pieces and wrap each separately in plastic wrap and place in zip lock bags. Write the date on the bag. Use within 3 months.

Putting the Pizza together:

If dough is frozen, thaw in refrigerator over night, or in microwave for 5 minutes at power level 3. Take dough from the zip lock bag, remove plastic wrap, and let sit covered with a towel at room temperature for 30 to 40 minutes.

Shaping: Flatten dough with your hand and with rolling pin roll out like pie dough from center to outside. Or pat and stretch dough to desired shape and size. (If dough is not cooperating it is probably still too cold, cover with towel and let rest for a few more minutes.) If using a metal pizza pan, lightly grease with olive oil and, if you like, sprinkle with a little corn meal. Put dough on prepared pan, stone (whatever you will be baking it on) and fit into/onto the pan.


American-style Pizza:

1 12 oz. jar pizza sauce

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp, dried oregano

1 tsp. dried basil

1 tsp. red pepper seeds

1/3 c. Parmesan cheese

Mozzarella cheese

Topping possibilities: Pepperoni, peppers, onions, black olives, mushrooms.

Preheat oven to 450. Use the back of a spoon to spread sauce over crust. Sprinkle on the chopped garlic, basil, oregano, red pepper seeds. Next, sprinkle on the Parmesan and then the mozzarella. Put on the toppings of your choice. Allow pizza to sit on counter for 20 to 30 minutes. Bake as directed below.

Pizza Florentine

1/4 c. pesto

3/4 c. quartered Artichoke hearts

¼ c. Dried tomatoes, halved or julienned

¼ c. sliced black or Kalamata olives

½ c. Feta cheese

Preheat oven to 450. Use the back of a spoon to spread the pesto evenly on top of the dough. Place the rest of the toppings on top of the pesto. Allow the pizza to sit for 20 to 30 minutes. Bake as directed below.

Preheat oven to 450 for at least 20 minutes before baking the pizza. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until bottom is golden brown. Let pizza stand for a few minutes before cutting and serving.


  1. I've never made pizza myself - too many bad memories of pizza at the vegetarian hippie co-op. I can attest that Bella makes delicious pizza, though!

  2. Next time you come, we can make pizza. Maybe dispell some bad memories!