The day before, I had made calzones (type calzone in search box to the right for recipe) for dinner and I had 4 balls of dough left. It would have been insane not to use the easy way out for dinner and use the dough for individual pizzas! I also had left-overs which I used for toppings. All I did was cook a couple of sweet Italian sausages, make the pizza sauce, and snag a few fresh basil leaves from the garden. Normally this would be a bit of an undertaking (making the dough, prepping toppings etc) but last night was a breeze and I got to sit down and peruse yet another cookbook given to me (on “permanent loan”) by my ever-generous friend Tom! It has tons of great detailed black and white photographs of cooking techniques, from how to bone a chicken from Galantina to how to preserve aromatic herbs like basil and sage in layers of coarse salt. There is also an extensive master class on the making of every kind of pasta shape known to man. The manual pasta machine I bought as a present to myself a couple of years ago may be taken out of it’s box in the near future!
I had fun practicing my dough shaping techniques and giving everyone free reign to put whatever toppings they wanted on their pie. I made the tomato sauce and used the oregano from my garden which infused it with a liquorice-y sweetness.
Everyone loved their personal little pizza, and I see more dough-making on the horizon!
Pizza Dough Recipe (for 4 individual pizzas)
You will Need: 2 3/4 cups flour, 1 package rapid rise yeast (a packet is 2 1/4 tsp), 3/4 tsp coarse salt, 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 3/4 cup warm water.
1 – Dissolve the yeast in about 1 tbs or so of warm water in a small bowl. Add the 3/4 cup of warm water to the mixture and set aside.
2 – Put flour and salt in a big bowl and whisk the salt in until well incorporated (I use a manual egg whisk for the job). Add the oil and disperse it by crumbling it into the flour with your fingertips.
3 – Make a well in the flour and add the yeast mixture. Mix, and then turn out onto a lightly floured counter-top and knead for a few minutes until it takes on an elastic-like feel. Put the dough ball back into the bowl, cover with a cloth and leave to rise for 2 hours.
Important Note: I hour before you are ready to bake the pizza put your pizza stone on a rack in the oven and preheat to 475*
While the dough is rising you can prep your toppings and make your pizza sauce.
You will Need: 1 can plum tomatoes with their juices, roughly chopped, 2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil, 1 small onion, 2 or 3 small sprigs of fresh oregano, 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped (optional), 1/2 tsp coarse sea-salt, freshly ground black pepper, 1/4 -1/2 cup water.
1 – Put pan for sauce on medium/low heat and add oil. Add onions (& garlic if using) and saute for 10 minutes until soft. Add tomatoes, water (1/4 cup at first), salt, oregano and pepper and bring to a simmer.
2 – Cover and simmer gently for 15 to 20 minutes. Add more water if necessary and taste for additional salt and pepper. Turn off heat and let it cool. Discard the oregano and blend the sauce in a food processor until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Cheese such as provolone or mozzarella, sliced black olives, diced red, yellow or green peppers, hot peppers, mushrooms, eggplant, thinly sliced red or yellow onion, herbs such as basil or oregano leaves, various cooked meats such as sausage, bacon, chicken, ham or cured or smoked hard meats such as salami or pepperoni.
The list of toppings is endless. It is a great way to use up the last of stray bits of food.
Ready to Assemble and Cook your Pizza
1 – Punch down the dough and turn out onto your lightly floured counter-top. Knead for a minute or two and roll into a ball-like disc. Use a knife to cut into four pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and set on a floured plate or board.
2 – Flatten a disc with the palm of your hand until you get it as big and as round as you can. At this point you can finish rounded it with a rolling-pin (no shame in that) or, try your hand by picking it up and resting it on the back of your hands. Move around the edges slowing stretching the dough gently. Don’t fret too much if your dough is a funny shape. Practice makes perfect!
2 – Place dough on pizza paddle and top with a thin layer of sauce, followed by a sprinkle of cheese, and then the toppings of your choice. Sprinkle a little more cheese on top and slide onto the pizza stone and check after 8 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool for a minute before cutting. Top with additional things like hot pepper flakes, or a sprinkle of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil if you like!