Had enough heavy Holiday foods and sweets yet? Me too. I figure it’s time to get back to a few delicious everyday recipes. Now that it’s just you, me, and Winter, we can make all sorts of great dishes for no good reason other than because we want to. Today, it’s homemade pizza. What’s more ‘everyday’ than that? This is the perfect stay-at-home meal that’ll make you happy you didn’t head out into the wind and cold searching for a restaurant this weekend. The base here is my go-to pizza crust (though, admittedly, I love this one by Zoe Francois as well). This multi-flour pizza crust tastes amazing and it’s ridiculously easy to throw together. It never fails me.
I know, I know– we’ve all made homemade pizza, so why should you try this recipe? I guess three reasons come to mind. First, the crust here combines three different flours. They give the dough more depth, more heartiness. While you may find it a bit more difficult to track down the rye flour, it’s worth making the effort. And even if you can’t, add in more regular flour to ensure that the total amount is about 14 ounces. This dough is easy to make ahead of time. While it’s ready in just over an hour, if you want to let it sit in the refrigerator for a day or so, you’ll really notice that the flavors deepen.
Reason number two for following this recipe is the pizza stone. Sure, it isn’t actually part of the recipe, but if you’ve been disappointed by your homemade efforts in the past, a decent pizza stone can make a huge difference. Go buy one– now. They vary in price and size, so pick one that fits your needs. The stone is a must-have for a decent crust. You’ll want the crust to begin baking on contact. It adds that nice crunchiness that so many homemade efforts are missing. I’ve experimented with this pizza crust recipe over the years, and finally found that using the heated stone– as well as rolling out the crust very thin— makes all the difference. It is perfectly crispy, yet still substantial.
Reason number three is the ingredients. Of course we all like different toppings, but if you haven’t tried ricotta cheese, olive oil, and fresh herbs on your pizza, you’re missing out. Try it. I insist. Ricotta provides such a delightful creaminess, that nicely balances the salt so prevalent in other ingredients. And olive oil and fresh herbs add a vibrancy that so many pizzas lack. (Note, if you put herbs on your pizza, put those on after its baked to avoid burning them.) If you’re curious, the pizza in the photographs contains olive oil, sliced garlic, roasted red pepper, spinach, ricotta cheese, grated mozzarella, parmesan, and red-pepper flakes. Give it a try, or experiment for yourself. Either way, have a wonderful pizza night this weekend with your family!
The Recipe: Homemade Pizza Dough
(Makes enough for 2 medium pizzas or several individuals)
1 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (note: the total weight of all the flours combined should be about 14 ounces)
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup rye flour
2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
1 to 1 1/4 cups water heated to 100-110°F
2 tablespoons, plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
Making the Dough: Using a food processor fitted with the dough blade, add the flours, salt, and yeast (of course this can all be done by hand, if you don’t have a food processor). Pulse it a few times to combine. Turn the machine on and add 1 cup water plus 2 tablespoons olive oil slowly into the feed tube. Process for about 30 seconds and then slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup of water, a little bit at a time, until the mixture forms a dough ball and begins swirling around the processor. You may not need the entire 1/4 cup of water. It should be slightly sticky to the touch. If it’s too dry, add a bit more water. Turn the dough onto a slightly floured work surface and knead by hand for a minute or so. Place dough into a bowl greased with the remaining teaspoon of olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in size, 1-2 hours. At this point, you can use the dough immediately. Or you can deepen the flavor and refrigerate it over night. If you have the time, a slow-rise in the refrigerator for 6-8 hours is also an option. You may also freeze the dough. Defrost in a covered bowl in the refrigerator or at room temperature. I’ve kept my dough in the refrigerator for several days and it just seems to deepen the flavor.
Getting ready to make the pizza: Place your pizza stone on the middle rack in your oven. Preheat the oven for as high as it will go, mine is 500°F, for 30 minutes before you place your pizza on the stone. On a floured surface, roll your pizza dough out to your desired thickness (I suggest going very thin!). Generously flour a pizza peel or the back of a large cookie sheet and place the rolled-out dough onto it. Make sure you can move the dough around with ease, as it will need to slip off of the surface and onto the pizza stone very quickly. Place your toppings onto the pizza. Make sure to drizzle any olive oil onto the pizza after it is on the stone, if need be, or it will run everywhere during the transfer. Open the oven and pull out the rack. Gently and very confidently slip the pizza onto the stone. Make sure to start at the end of the stone furtherest away from you. Close the oven door and let bake until the cheese is a deep golden brown and done to your liking. Check it often, it will take about 5- 7 minutes. However, every oven is different, so do not rely on this number too heavily.
Source: Adapted from Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything
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