A Tale of Three Pizzas, Part One

It seems like everyone has pizza on the brain. Out in Seattle, new restaurant owners Molly (of Orangette fame) and her husband, Brandon are throwing Padron pepper pizzas into a wood fire at Delancey. Another one of my favorite couples-with-blogs just posted a three-part series of tips for grilled pizza that’s certainly worth a look. And here we are with a brand-new pizza crisper pan.

I was eager to try a crust recipe that the writer of Everybody Likes Sandwiches claims is “The Easiest Pizza Dough in the World.” It’s pretty straightforward, and quick enough to make after work with no advanced planning (as long as you have a packet of yeast in your fridge.) Seriously, I mixed the yeast with warm water and honey (accidentally adding a tablespoon instead of a teaspoon, though that was no disaster) and left the kitchen to take a shower. (It’s muggy in New York in August, in case you didn’t know.) Then I stirred in the flour and salt, olive oil, and a bit of fresh rosemary, and set it aside while I got dinner ready. The dough process literally takes about five minutes of active time—less than it would take for use to beg a ball of dough from our local pizzeria, which is literally on the ground floor of our apartment building. And certainly less than the time it would take to wait in the interminable lines at Whole Foods, or, God forbid, the Union Square Trader Joe’s. Suburbanites, you have no idea how we suffer for our TJ’s fix.

There’s a lot of yeast in this recipe, puffing it up just enough while you fix a salad and prep your pizza toppings. I didn’t feel like the dough benefitted from a longer rising time or wait in the fridge overnight—in fact, it developed much more gluten and was a little tricky to shape the leftover dough a day later—it kept bouncing back into its original form every time I tried to stretch it. Even without the long rise, even without any kneading, this was a terrific crust. I’m not sure I need to try any other.

I know a lot of you are devoted to pizza stones preheated for a long time in the stove. There may be a reason to have one. But this pizza crisper pan with holes across the bottom worked great for me, and is much easier to store in our teeny kitchen. It yielded a crisp, chewy crust that was totally easy to slide off the pan.

And the toppings? Delicious. I started with a spread of pumpkin purée that I spiked with a sprinkle of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. After the pumpkin, torn fresh sage leaves, crumbles of intense Bucheron cheese, and a sprinkling of smoked salt. It was a savory and satisfying vegetarian meal.

Want more pizzas? Coming right up.

Easy Pizza Crust
Adapted from Everybody Likes Sandwiches
makes 2 pizzas

1 packet of yeast
1 c warm water (it should be hot to the touch, but you should be able to touch it! Not boiling!)
2 1/2 c all purpose flour
2 t honey
1 t salt
2 T olive oil
1 T fresh rosemary, chopped (optional)
cornmeal

In a large bowl, add in the yeast, honey, and warm water and stir until the yeast dissolves. Let sit a few minutes, small bubbles should appear to indicate that your yeast is still alive!

About 45 minutes before you want to eat, preheat oven as high as it goes—at least 450, ideally 500. Use an oven thermometer and let preheat a good long time. Meanwhile, add the flour, salt, rosemary (if using), and olive oil and stir with a wooden spoon vigorously until combined. Let dough rest for 20 minutes (or even an hour, but 20 minutes is fine.)

While the dough rests, prepare your toppings. When you’re ready, spread counter with waxed paper and flour the paper and rolling pin. Sprinkle cornmeal on pizza pan. Split the dough in half for two pizzas. Roll out one circle and spread into pizza pan, pulling and rolling to fill pan. You want the crust to be even, about 1/2″ thick. Top pizza lightly (don’t overdo it) and put in oven. Turn pan after 6 minutes. Cook pizza about 12 minutes total, checking to make sure it’s quite browned but not burned.

In Uncategorized, baking, bread, goat cheese, pizza, pumpkin

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