Friday, September 13, 2013

Ultimate Margherita Pizza

You know you're me when ordering a pizza online and hoping it arrives in a reasonable amount of time is too stressful and making one from scratch seems easier.  In my defense, it was very hot that day and I had all the ingredients laying around.

A basic Margherita pizza is just pizza sauce, mozzarella, and a bit of basil on top.  I added a boatload of cherry tomatoes to the topping.  Anyone with a tomato plant at this time of year will understand why.  Techie Smurf is making marinara out of his Heirloom crop to freeze for later, and will probably can a bunch.  Cherry tomatoes are too much of a pain to peel.  I'm going to be drying and/or freezing most of my extras.

I also did not use normal pizza dough, which is usually made with water as the liquid and honey as the sugar.  I had too much milk in the fridge and used that, and didn't feel like opening a new bottle of honey for one tablespoon.  Then, I also added half a cup of buckwheat flour to the mix because I had it in the pantry.  There is nothing wrong with mixing in a different flour such as whole wheat, buckwheat, or rice flour.  Just remember that a low-gluten flour will change the texture of the final product because it might not rise as well.

*1 C milk or water, 100º
*2 tsp yeast
1 Tb sugar or honey
Olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
about 3 C flour
*corn meal
1/2 C pizza sauce (or leftover spaghetti sauce)
8 oz mozzarella, either shredded or thinly sliced
*1 lb cherry or grape tomatoes
about 8 leaves fresh basil, chiffonaded

1.  Dissolve the yeast and sugar into warmed water or milk and let sit until slightly foamy, about 5 minutes.  Stir in 1Tb olive oil.

2.  In stand mixer with a paddle, stir together a total of 1 C of the flours.  Add milk mixture and beat into a batter, about 2 minutes.  Add another cup flour and the salt and beat again into a thick, slightly stringy batter.

3.  Pour batter onto a well-floured board and knead until elastic, adding flour as necessary.  If using honey, the dough will stay sticky.  Even with the oil, it will be slightly sticky.  Round into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat all sides.  Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes.

If you don't use a lot of corn meal,
they're never coming off
4.  Punch down dough and divide into four balls.  Round each ball and allow to rest while you prepare the pans and toppings.  Generously coat two sheet pans with corn meal.  Slice mozzarella if necessary and cut tomatoes in half so they don't explode in the oven.

5.  With a rolling pin, roll out each ball of dough into a disc six inches in diameter.  You can make them larger if you like thin-crust pizza.  Place two circles on each sheet pan.  (I went for three, and you can see that they were crowded.)  Spread about two tablespoons of pizza sauce on each circle, leaving the edges clean.  Divide cheese evenly between the pizzas, then sprinkle with tomato halves.  Top with shreds of basil and place in a warm place to rise for 30 minutes.

6.  Preheat oven to 400º.  Bake until bubbly with a golden brown crust, about 15 minutes.  Allow to cool slightly before trying to slice and serve.

Difficulty rating :)

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