Monday, September 21, 2009

Kitchen Experiment: Pizza

For some reason, the fact that we made pizza last night completely blew me away. It worked! The smoke alarms didn't go off! And it was not just edible, but extremely tasty. I used the pizza method from Artisan Breads in Five Minutes a Day, which calls for using one of their bread recipes (I used my usual half whole wheat version of their boule dough, though next time I'll go ahead and make the suggested olive oil focaccia dough).

Crank the oven up as high as it'll go - the new oven in our apartment continues to be a real workhorse: it not only goes up to 550F (many ovens top out at 500F) but it didn't seem at all damaged by the experience (a friend's oven practically melted at its top temperature... she needed to replace all the plastic knobs afterward). Let heat for at least 20 minutes. While the oven's preheating, prepare your ingredients (I used fresh farmer's market mozzarella, some left-over tomato sauce (drained of all juice over a fine sieve), and a puree of fresh basil and black olives). Allow to cool a little before serving, or the cheese will slide right off!

Using flour to prevent sticking, roll out the dough to about a 1/8" thickness. Take it slow - the dough will relax as you go, but it can take several minutes between expansions. Spray a cooking sheet or pizza crisper (we have one of these) with non-stick-spray-with-flour stuff. Once your pizza dough is sufficiently thin, roll it around your rolling pin to transfer it to the prepared pizza crisper (just like you would to move pie dough).

I spread out the basil/black olive mixture all over the dough and then spread the tomato sauce on top of that. Finally, rough rounds of mozzarella top of the whole thing. Get it into the oven ASAP and cook for 8-15 minutes (it pays to keep a close eye on pizza, as there's a fine line between lightly-browned-but-crisp and blackened at 550 degrees).

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