We love pizza. When I told my 2 1/2 year-old daughter that I was making pizza for dinner tonight she said, “You’re making pizza? That sounds delicious!”
My husband and I have found some beautiful, real pizza ovens, but alas, do not have a home to install it in nor the money to afford it right now. That is on our dream home list, for sure. However, we adore our pizza stone from Williams-Sonoma. I cannot imagine making pizza without it. The crust is so beautifully thin and crisp. I have even discovered that I can bake cookies on their sheet on top of the hot stone and it keeps the cookies soft and chewy, while not burning the bottom. I am still learning to make fantastic cookies, thanks to my wonderful husband’s help. Yes, the same husband who cannot tolerate much sugar, and really cannot eat the cookies except in little, tiny pieces. He learned from his mother and can pass his skills on to me.
Now back to pizza.
Because I am pregnant I am steering clear of pepperoni. It is tough because I love pepperoni pizza, but the fewer nitrates I consume the better. Motherhood is a sacrifice and I willingly give up certain foods. However, I am hoping for pepperoni pizza, Ball Park beef franks, and a huge Italian hoagie in the hospital post-delivery. So, in place of our normal pepperoni and onion pizza we have been making a delicious grilled chicken pizza. On top of Farm Journal’s crust we put: E.V.O.O., fresh minced garlic (or bottled, which is easier than chopping fresh, though there is a stronger garlic flavor with fresh), Sargento© grated Mozzarella and Provolone cheese, grilled chicken breast cut into strips, and drained, rinsed, and quartered artichoke hearts. While just Mozzarella is fine, this pizza is complimented with the use of other cheeses like: Parmesan, Romano, and Provolone. We use the combination cheese bags from the store. It nice to not have to grate cheese when there are other things to worry about when making the pizza. Normally we would add Gorgonzola cheese to the top of this pizza, but once again it the pregnancy holding me back from enjoying those blue, and un-pasturized, cheeses. With our basic recipe for crust we have been making 2 pizzas, usually 1 chicken pizza and 1 half pepperoni and half chicken pizza to accommodate my father. You can do 2 smaller pizzas, or 1 larger pizza with bread sticks, though the larger pizza takes up a lot more space on the stone. That is why I almost always leave that job for my husband. We also have a not-so-great pizza peel. It is made from cheap wood and is completely warped, but the beautiful Williams-Sonoma peel was beyond our student budget. Another dream item. There are so many when it comes to my dream gourmet kitchen.
Basic Pizza Dough
1 1/4 C. warm water (105-110°)
1 pkg. Yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)
3 1/2 – 4 C. all purpose Flour
1/2 tsp. Salt
- Sprinkle the yeast on warm water; stir to dissolve. I add it to my Kitchen Aid© mixer bowl, and mix with the dough attachment.
- When completely mixed add the flour 1 C. at a time. In the 2nd cup of flour add the salt. Add flour until the dough completely leaves the side and bottom of the bowl. Turn onto lightly floured board and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. I usually put it back into the Kitchen Aid from the floured surface to let the machine do most of the kneading. My hands are perfect for making pie dough, but pizza dough is not so easy for these little, delicate hands.
- Put dough into a lightly greased bowl and set it to rise in a warm spot covered with a towel. Like in the oven with the light on. I leave it on the counter next to the oven so that while the oven is heating the pizza stone, it is helping to keep my dough rise.
- Let rise about 30 minutes.
- Bake the pizza on the stone for 12 minutes in a 475° oven. Warm the stone at 500° and turn down the oven right before getting the pizza onto the stone. (Baking time with a pizza pan and no stone would be 20-25 min. in a 450° oven.)
Dough recipe found in Homemade Bread By the Food Editors of Farm Journal ©1969. Instructions are a combination of right out of the cookbook and what I do.
Here is the Kitchen Aid mixer we should have bought. We played it safe and got the red one.