So I told Chad, rather than eating out for Valentine's, I'd rather us make pizza together with my new tools! I found an authentic Italian pizza recipe online and went at it. It was a pretty simple recipe, but sooooo good. I'm usually not all that impressed by my cooking, but I can honestly say this was the best pizza I've ever ate! So again, thank you thank you thank you for the awesome gift Chad. Oh and for those of you who have a pizza stone, here's the recipe. I think the real trick in it is to use fewer ingredients, but to make sure they are high quality ingredients. I LOVE the fresh mozzarella and bazil. I was surprised at how yummy the sauce was as just chopped up plum tomatoes. Oh and the crust was perfect, thin, crispy, and chewy. MMM mmmmm...
Pizza Margherita with Tomatoes, Mozzarella, and Basil
This is the pizza that has made Naples famous the world over. It was first baked in 1889 in honor of the visiting Queen of Italy, Margherita, and topped with ingredients that recalled the colors of Italy's flag: red tomatoes; green basil; and white Mozzarella.
For the dough:
3 and 1/4 cups bread flour, plus extra for the counter
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
extra-virgin olive oil for greasing the bowl
For the topping:
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup canned chopped Italian plum tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced (optional--in Naples they don't use garlic)
3/4 pound fresh Mozzarella, grated (fresh buffalo's milk Mozzarella is traditional in Naples; slice it if using)
16 basil leaves
Make the dough: Mix the flour, yeast, and salt in a food processor. With the motor running, add enough warm (110°F) water (about 1 and 1/4 cups) to make a soft dough that rides the blade.
Process for 45 seconds. Add a little water if the dough is dry or a little flour if it is sticky.
Lightly oil a bowl, place the dough in it, shape into a ball and wrap. Let rise at room temperature until doubled, about 1 hour. (Or allow to rise in the refrigerator until doubled, about 4 hours; when you are ready to shape the dough, return it to room temperature before cutting it and shaping it.)
Meanwhile, preheat the oven with a baking stone in it to 550°F.
Cut the dough into 4 pieces. Shape into 4 balls on a lightly floured counter. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes (this allows the gluten to relax, making stretching easier). Using a rolling pin (or your hands for a lighter texture), roll into 10-inch circles; the edges should be slightly higher than the center.
Top the pizza: Place 1 circle on a generously floured baking peel. Working quickly from this point forward so the dough does not stick to the baking peel (if it sticks you will have a lot of trouble transfering it to the baking stone) rub with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil. Spoon on 1/4 cup of the tomatoes and spread gently with the back of a spoon (pressing will make the dough stick to the peel). Season with a pinch the salt.
Top with one quarter of the Mozzarella and 4 basil leaves.
Stretch into an 11-inch circle with your hands, being careful not to tear the dough as you do so.
Transfer the pizza directly to the baking stone and bake in the preheated oven for 5 minutes, or until the crust is crisp and the mozzarella is bubbling. Continue in the same manner with the remaining ingredients and serve each pizza as it emerges from the oven. Makes four 11-inch pizzas
Here are some pizza tips from the same site.
Five Essential Pizza Facts
High Oven Temperature Preheat your oven at the highest possible temperature with a baking stone in it for at least 30 minutes before baking pizza; baking stones emulate brick burning ovens by drawing out moisture from the pizza crust. Traditional wood-burning (or coal-burning) pizza ovens heat up to 950°F, which ensures that pizzas bake quickly (in 2 or 3 minutes maximum) and emerge light and crispy rather than heavy and dry. A home oven can usually reach 550°F, which will bake a pizza to a crispy, crunchy, lightly brown in 5 minutes or less--provided you are using a baking stone, which you can buy at Sur La Table or King Arthur Flour
Great Flour Use a top-quality flour--I like King Arthur Sir Lancelot High Gluten Flour, which you can order at King Arthur Flour
Little Yeast Use little yeast in your dough (I use 1 teaspoon of instant yeast per 3 and 1/2 cups of flour) and let it rise slowly; don't add a lot of yeast, as most recipes call for, or the dough will be fluffy and soft and will taste distinctly yeasty. Check my recipe for dough above
San Marzano Tomatoes Buy genuine canned Italian plum tomatoes--San Marzano are the best. In Italy, we don't cook the tomatoes before adding them to our pizzas, yielding pizzas that taste fresh and vibrant
Go Light on the Toppings Exercise restraint when creating toppings: in Italy, we use one or two toppings per pizza, if any (aside from tomatoes and cheese)--the result is that each ingredient brings its own personality to the pizza without fighting the other ingredients. Also, the more you load your pizza with toppings, the heavier it will be, making the crust soggy rather than crisp
I think tonight I'll try my hand with focaccia :)