By Sue Lau | Palatable Pastime
For today, I decided to make pizza margherita. Easy and delicious, chock full of the flavor of fresh basil, it is an obvious choice for my family.
We LOVE pizza.
And I love making it at home. Don’t get me started on the unnatural nature of pizza packaged in cardboard. *insert eyeroll*
If I were to mock one of the big pizza delivery companies, it might be by saying: “Better pizza? Better get myself to the E.R., more like!” 😉
So fellow pizza lovers, trust me. Making pizza is not difficult.
There are a few things I like to keep handy for making pizza- one of them is my trusty pizza brick which has a permanent home on the lowest shelf of my oven. Used not only for keeping a hot crispy crust on things like pizza, when it stays in the oven while other things bake, it provides an even stable nature to the ovens heat, lending to better baking. When the oven is off, I keep my biggest cast-iron skillet in there on top of it (it stays in the oven too unless I need the shelf) and when baking pizza, I just move the skillet to the top rack leaving the baking stone free for pizza. Top to bottom, keeping both in there gives me really great, stable temps.
Another thing I like to keep around when dealing with bread dough is a heating pad. I use an oblong one to keep the area around the dough toasty warm while it rises and rests.
I can’t tell you how many times before I started using the hot pad in the kitchen that I would wait and wait and wait….for the dough to rise. And no luck. Believe me, nothing will make you want to give in and call the pizza boy faster than that. And you do not want to go there. So when I make dough (which I do in my electric mixer) I will drape the heating pad over the bowl and around and underneath. Dough rises like a charm. If I am using ready made pizza dough as I am today, which was made previously, then frozen for later use, then thawed, the heating pad will help it get warm, and all beautiful and pudgy, the kind you love to push your finger into.
For my home, I divide the dough into 8 ounce portions for a small, individual type pizza, press it into a smooth ball, then set it on some parchment paper, cover it with another sheet of parchment (to keep the heating pad clean) and wrap the pad around it. It usually takes about half an hour from refrigerator to ready to roll.
For this meal, I made the pizza margherita, served it with a simple Caesar salad, and had it with some Cabernet-Sauvignon red wine.
- 1 pound pizza dough, prepared (I have several fav recipes, none posted…just yet! 😉 )
- 1-2 cups marinara sauce (I use my own recipe)
- 8 ounces fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
- 1 small tomato, thinly sliced
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (optional)
- red pepper flakes (optional)
- Warm dough until it is soft, pudgy and relaxed on a piece of parchment paper. (I use the heating pad to help) This can take 1-2 hours depending on the ambient air temperature.
- Place pizza stone or pizza brick on the lowest shelf of your oven and preheat to 500F.
- Using your hands pat out dough until it is very thin and does not pop back when you stretch it out. If it draws back it, all the dough to rest further in a very warm place.
- Once dough is stretched out, dock the dough with a pizza docker (or you can poke holes with a fork).
- Bake the crust for a minute or two until it begins to look dry, then remove from oven and top it with desired amount of marinara sauce and sliced buffalo mozzarella.
- Thinly slice the tomato then pat dry between paper toweling (this may take a couple of tries), then place tomato slices over the pizza.
- Using a paddle, carefully slide pizza onto the pizza stone. You can sprinkle the stone with a little semolina or just keep the pizza on parchment paper and slide that onto the stone.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the top is sufficiently browned to your liking.
- If you like the top a little darker, similar to wood fired ovens, give it a tiny bit of time under the broiler, but keep an eye on it.
- Sprinkle with thin chiffonade of fresh basil, then cut into pieces and serve.
From the kitchen of palatablepastime.com
Did you know?
If you buy a block of Parmesan-Reggiano cheese, you can grate it on a box grater, on a microplane grater or in the food processor using the shredding blade in just a few minutes, without any addition of cellulose you might get when using the cheese product in the green can?
It’s so easy to do, you will want to do it yourself from now on.