With Delancey (incredible pizza restaurant with famed owners Brandon and Molly – of Orangette) right around the corner from us it seems so silly to even bother making pizza at home. Call me silly. Whenever a challenge presents itself, such as creating crispy, chewy crusted pizza at home, I take it head on and am determined to remove confusion and insert deliciousness.
I recently taught a Spring baking class in which we used pizza as a foundation to highlight some of this season’s finest and brightest offerings. For the sake of the class we researched and tested and scrutinized several crusts. I won’t lie – it wasn’t rough.
We walked away from that evening of testing with full bellies and two pizza crusts that may put Dominos out of business.
My favorite was a crust that was both crispy and chewy yet had a softness that was reminiscent of the fluffy, pillow-like crust my mom used to make. It was salty with a subtle tang that came from taking a few days rest in the fridge.
On top we drizzled olive oil, added mozzarella and fontina and scattered par-roasted asparagus spears. After three minutes of baking in a very hot oven we cracked three eggs on top then waited patiently. The hot pizza was then topped with prosciutto and grated Grana Padana or Parmesan. A light sprinkling of salt dusted the perfect pie which was then quickly devoured.
Beautiful pizza at home – it can be done.
THE Pizza Crust
adapted from 101cookbooks.com
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon yeast
1/4 cup olive oil
1 3/4 cups water
Semolina flour OR cornmeal for dusting
Combine all the ingredients. Mix by hand or with a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Knead for 5-7 minutes – until soft, quite sticky but not wet.
Cover a baking sheet with parchment and a fine coating of pan spray or oil. Divide the dough into four equal portions then place on the baking sheet. Using a bit of flour if the dough or your hands are very sticky, shape the portions into round balls. Mist the dough with oil or pan spray then cover with plastic wrap.
Place in the fridge for at least one day or up to three days.
Remove the dough 2 hours before you plan on baking. Place the sheet tray in a warm spot in your kitchen.
Pre-heat your oven (if you have a pizza stone pre-heat your oven with the stone inside) to 450* for 45 minutes prior to baking.
With your hands or a rolling pin, shape one of the portioned dough pieces to the desired size and thickness. Place on a cornmeal dusted pizza peel or use the back of a baking sheet. Top with desired toppings and bake until crust is lightly golden and cheese is melted and bubbly.
Note: If you want to save some of the dough for future baking, you can store the dough balls in a zippered freezer bag. Dip each dough ball into a bowl that has a few tablespoons of oil in it, rolling the dough in the oil, and then put each ball into a separate bag. You can place the bags into the freezer for up to 3 months. Transfer them to the refrigerator the day before you plan to make pizza.
This one had mozzarella, fontina, fresh ricotta, green garlic and merguez (lamb sausage)
1) Always preheat your oven and pizza stone for 45 minutes prior to baking. Use the hottest setting you can. 500 – 550 degrees in most ovens. Use convection if you have it.
2) Semolina flour makes an ideal dusting flour for your pizza peel so your pizza doesn’t stick and you can easily transfer it from peel to stone. If you don’t have a peel, a cookie sheet can work, but honestly, not as well. Corn meal also works well for dusting.
3) Overnight crust recipes will result in a more flavorful and glutinous pizza, which improves chewiness and crispiness to the crust.
Roasted Asparagus, Egg & Prosciutto Pizza
Roasted asparagus (drizzle with olive oil, salt & pepper and roast for 10 minutes at 400)
2-3 oz fresh mozzarella, torn into nickel size pieces
3 eggs, cracked and waiting in a bowl.
2 oz San Danielle or other high quality prosciutto
high quality sea salt or fleur de sel & fresh cracked pepper
freshly grated Parmigiano
Preheat your oven for 45 minutes with pizza stone inside, to 500 – 550 degrees.
With your dough create 12” round. Place on flour dusted pizza peel. Brush with olive oil and dust with sea salt. Break up fresh mozzarella on top of pizza, add roasted asparagus. Slide onto pizza stone and bake for 3 minutes. Open oven and as quickly as possible pour the eggs onto three different places around the pizza. Bake for another 7 minutes or until golden and eggs are cooked to your liking. We shoot for a semi-soft yolk. Remove from oven and grate Parmigiano over top. Drape 4-5 slices of prosciutto on top of this.