Sunday, May 26, 2013
I've posted some pizza recipes in the past, including a nice sourdough one. A couple of nights ago I decided to take that dough and revisit it so that I could make it with dry yeast from a packet. My sourdough starter has been defunct since January, so I'm back to buying packets of dry yeast. I prefer the RapidRise yeast because it has more active yeast in it so I never worry about enough yeast action when I use it.
When I was back East, we ate out once...at a local brew pub. I shared a fantastic pizza with one of my sisters and a niece. This is my attempt to capture some of the flavors of that pizza. The base was ready-made pesto, then I added blue cheese crumbles and mozzarella cheese shreds, toasted walnuts, dried cherries, finely chopped fresh rosemary and some thinly sliced Italian sausage, plus some Parmesan cheese on top. The crust for this one was stretched nice and thin. This was a pizza with robust flavors and a nice crunch from the walnuts.
I also decided to make an almost-veggie pizza with the other half of the dough. It does have some ham and a bit of pepperoni, but it also has snow peas and sugar snap peas, carrots, celery, onions, and sun-dried tomatoes for the veggie part. The base was plain yogurt with a sprinkle of garlic salt, and there was mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese and Parmesan. I couldn't seem to get the crust on this one as thin as the other, but with the heavier ingredients, maybe that was for the best. The flavors here were more mellow and dairy and veggie but with a bit of emphasis from the pepperoni.
Although the two pizzas had very different flavor profiles, they went well together and made for a delicious meal. Best of all they allowed me to test-drive my new 13" x 15" pizza stone. Awesome crust! I guess the stone, especially since I preheated it, really makes a difference in creating a crust that is browned top and bottom. It also allowed me to only make two large pizzas instead of the four smaller ones I usually make with my small round pizza stone.
I'm sending this over to Yeastspotting, Susan of Wild Yeast's every changing and inspiring weekly round up of yeast-based recipes. Check it out!
Simple Pizza Dough and Fun Toppings
1 packet rapid rise yeast and 1.5 cups water
½ teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 – 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour (or adjust if using the rapid rise yeast)
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the yeast and the barely warm water. Let this mixture sit at room temperature for two hours. If you will be making the rest of the dough another day, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate this starter mix.
When you are ready to make the dough and make pizza, put the starter mix into a stand mixer bowl and stir the sugar, olive oil and salt into the starter mix. Using the dough hook, gradually add the flour until a dough forms. Knead with the mixer for 4-5 minutes, adding more flour a tablespoon at a time as needed.
Once dough is smooth and elastic, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for another minute, adding flour if necessary to fully blend the dough.
Form dough into a ball. Place in a lightly oiled bowl or other container good for dough to rise in. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and a tea towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
When it is about 45 minutes before you plan to bake the pizza, preheat the oven to 500 degrees F and if you have one place a baking stone in the oven to preheat, too.
On a lightly floured surface place 1/2 of the dough. Using floured hands, stretch the dough into a rough circle or rectangle, keeping a rim of thicker dough around the edges. Some people like to toss the dough to do this, but mine always ends up on the floor if I do, so I just push the dough or hold it by the edge and work my way around. Place the stretched dough (about 9-11 inches in diameter) on a piece of baking parchment.
Top the dough as desired. I used pesto as the base for one pizza, then added some crumbled blue cheese, topped with shredded mozzarella cheese, finely chopped dried Michigan cherries, toasted walnuts, chopped, finely chopped fresh rosemary and thin slices of cooked Italian turkey sausages, topped with some Parmesan cheese. The second pizza using the other half of the dough had plain yogurt on the bottom, a dusting of garlic salt, both shredded thinly sliced ham and thin rounds of pepperoni, some raw, chopped snow peas and sugar snap peas, some mirepoix, finely chopped sun-dried tomato and three kinds of cheese: mozzarella, cheddar, and Parmesan.
Feel free to combine your own toppings to suit your tastes.
To bake, slide the parchment paper holding the pizza onto the preheated baking stone. If no stone is available, turn a jelly roll pan upside down on an oven rack in the preheated oven and immediately slide on the parchment paper holding the pizza.
Bake about 5 minutes, then turn the pizza around 180 degrees for even baking. Bake until golden brown. Remove from oven to cutting board, cut and serve. If you are making more than one pizza (recipe makes 2 large or 4 small crusts) prepare it on another piece of parchment and once you remove one pizza, put the next one in the oven.
Serve at once.