Tomato-Basil Pizza

The one thing in the kitchen that I desperately want to learn how to do without fail is to make bread.  Occasionally, I hit the mark.  I can make biscuits (though, those aren’t yeast-driven), and I managed to turn out some fairly okay croissants— I’m looking forward to trying those again.  And I even managed to turn out some doughnuts last year that weren’t too shabby.  However, those are certainly only the successes that I’ve shown you.  You haven’t seen the hotdog buns, the hamburger buns, the three attempts at cinnamon rolls, and the two prior attempts at pizza crust.  Clearly I have issues with making bread products.

Last week, I decided that it was time to re-visit pizza crust.  I’d tried an Alton Brown recipe and an Annie’s Eats recipe and neither of those worked out for me at all.  I’m thinking that it may have to do with the fact that they weigh their pizza dough ingredients.  Yes, I know it gives you a more accurate reading, and I know it would improve the final outcome; however, I don’t have $50 or more to throw down on nice little digital scale.  So I have to do it the way home-bakers did it before the digital age.  I need to measure with my measuring cups, and this meant I had to find a different– not better, but different– recipe for that pizza crust.

And I did.   It was sitting right there on the back of the White Lily Bread Flour Bag.    So I made it, and with the only exception being that it didn’t quite rise like I thought it should have (okay, it was like 28 degrees the day I made it and my house is kind of drafty, so that may have had something to do with it), but it worked and it was good– not tough or dry or super-chewy like my other attempts.

This is my second attempt with that recipe.  The first time I just made one pizza.  This time I made two.  The recipe below is one of those two.  Though, I have to warn you– I live in a house of picky eaters, so really, only half of that pizza in the pictures is tomato-basil.  The rest is pepperoni and cheese.  I’ve adjust the ingredient amount for the tomatoes in the following recipe as if I were going to make the whole thing as tomato-basil.  Sorry if that’s confusing.

Tomato-Basil Pizza

pizza dough adapted from White Lily Bread Flour recipe for “Pizza Crust

Ingredients:

Pizza Dough– (makes enough dough for 2 pizzas)

1 packet rapid rise yeast (1/4 ounce or 2-1/4 tsp)

1-1/4 cups warm (120-130 degree) water

3-1/4 cups bread flour (I used White Lily)

1 tsp salt

1 Tbsp sugar

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

non-stick spray

Toppings

1/4 cup freshly  grated parmesan cheese, divided

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp garlic powder (optional)

1/4 tsp Italian seasoning (optional)

4 oz tomato sauce

7-8 cherry tomatoes, sliced

5-6 fresh basil leaves, cut in a chiffonade (which is a noun; did you know that?)

2 tsp rosemary, roughly chopped

4-6 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into small pieces

Directions:

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast.

Then pour  the really warm water right over the top.  Because I used the rapid rise yeast, I didn’t have to bloom the yeast (soak it in water) first, but I did have to use warmer water.

See how bubbly it gets.

Stir it until combined.  I would have used my mixer, but…well, there was cookie dough in my mixer’s mixing bowl.

Once the dough is mostly combined, stir in the olive oil.  It’s sooooo green.  You know, within a couple of months of each other, I read an article that said what we buy as honey isn’t really honey, and then I read one saying that olive oil may not really be the grade that is printed on the bottle.  Somewhere….ah…here— an NPR interview with Tom Mueller, who wrote a book about the issue.   It’s about a 20-minute interview.

Okay,  enough about that.

Anyway, mix that olive oil (hopefully the real stuff– I hope mine is).  The White Lily recipe says to mix for three minutes; it took me just a little more than that– like three and half.

Then you coat another large bowl with the non-stick spray.  Shape the dough into a bowl.  Rotate the dough ball, so it is covered with the spray.  Then cover the bowl with a tea towel.  I used a newborn baby blanket.

Let the dough rest for about an hour until it’s roughly doubled in size.

Divide the dough in half.  Cover it again, and let it rest for 10 minutes.

The original recipe calls for pressing each half into 2 12-inch pizza pans.  I don’t have one.  I have cookie sheets and jelly roll pans, so that’s what I used.  I also went rustic.  It isn’t fully pressed in.  It isn’t neat.  It didn’t make a difference.

After half of the dough is pressed into a pan (mine was 12 x 15, but it didn’t cover the whole pan), cover it again and let it rest for 20 minutes.

This is also a good time to pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees.

Sprinkle the crust with the salt, pepper, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and 2 Tbsp of the parmesan.  Then spread that with tomato sauce (I didn’t take a picture of that part– oops).

Here’s a shot of the toppings…you know, so you know.  You know?  Like i said, half of my pizza had pepperoni, so don’t be confused by that.

Then just sprinkle and layer.  If I’d been able to have this all to myself, which I could have if I was selfish, but I’m not, I’d have sprinkled the whole thing with tomatoes and basil and rosemary.

Then top that with the mozzarella and the remaining parmesan.

Bake the pizza for approximately 20-30 minutes until cheese is bubbly and crust is brown.  Mine took 20 minutes to cook.

Let it cool and slice it up.

The crust was very soft with a little bit of a bite, but it wasn’t rubbery or overly chewy.

Overall, I was very happy.  The other pizza we made was a full on pepperoni and cheese pizza, and it turned out delicious as well.

It’s certainly better than the pizza crust that comes in a can, and I’ll definitely make it again.  For me, that is saying something.

Yield: 1 pizza, 12-15 slices; the dough recipe yields enough for 2 pizzas

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