Breaking the doughy ceiling…with pizza success!

Misc. / October 13, 2014

When I was really little, I was afraid of the dark. For awhile during my twenties, my acrophobia kept me off escalators. And for the longest time, I’ve been intimidated by the whole homemade pizza thing. I tried it about a year ago and my oven and pizza stone were a menagerie of burnt corn meal, and crusted, black cheese. Not to mention the crust was too thick, and the clean up was torture.

Roll your eyes if you want. Not all of us are born for pizza greatness. However, with the help of an article in Bon Appetit Magazine, which suggested I forgo the stone and the cornmeal and simply spread my dough out on an olive oil primed cookie sheet and cook it at 500 degrees, along with enough practical logic from other doughy-lessons, I am proud to say, I DID IT. Now I still am experimenting with the right dough from scratch, but you will NOT BELIEVE how amazingly good this pizza was using ready-made dough. (Makes it easy and quick to satisfy the hungry mob, too!)

Here’s what I did. First, I used the Publix brand pizza dough. I let it rest on the counter for the requisite hour before opening the plastic and rolling it out. Then, after rolling it the first time and feeling like I was working with a rubber band, I let it sit, in the small disc I had started to roll out, for about 15 minutes so it could rest, and then worked it again. And the second time? Pliable! I rolled it a bit more and and then simply picked it up and began to turn it and stretch it, gently but deliberately, round and around until it was the size of my medium sized cookie sheet. (Bear in mind I was using flour to dust the counter-top, the rolling pin, and my shaking hands.) By that time it easily spread out to nearly the edges of the cookie sheet and I was able to add the condiments. Really, it won’t break. It wants to be stretched!

I made two pizzas. One with the following: 1 C asiago cheese, 1 C pecorino romano (both freshly grated) a drizzle of good olive oil, a scattering of cut up San Marzano cherry tomatoes, freshly torn basil, half a can of drained and cut up artichoke hearts, about a teaspoon of dried oregano, and a generous amount of chili flakes. Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt finished the creation and into the oven it went for about 6 -7 minutes. OH  MY GOODNESS. Salty, rich, chewy yet just the right amount of crunch to the crust. (That thin crust — but not too thin — is what has eluded me.) The cheese made it perfect, even WITHOUT any red sauce was so amazing. The sweet tomatoes and basil were perfect. Just enough heat and the fresh dried oregano (Please, throw out your bottle of old oregano after 6 months to a year, okay?) made everyone at the table go nutso with pleasure.

The second pizza was just a fun. For toppings I started again with the olive oil. Then chunks of goat cheese; the Humbolt Fog Blue Goat Cheese made it out of this world. Then chopped dried figs…I guess about 3/4 C, 2 T fig spread, dalloped on, about 1/2 C caramelized sweet onions (which my friend prepared earlier), and really quality proscuitto. The soft, kind. Then salt and pepper and into the oven for the same amount of time. Right before serving I topped it with fresh arugula, and then a drizzle of fig balsamic vinegar.

There are others to thank as well. Jules, the consummate cheese monger at the Publix in Ballantyne, (Charlotte, NC) the editors of Bon Appetit for knowing I would need a nudge this month to try pizza again, (How on earth did they read my mind! Hahah!!) my wonderful friends for helping with advice, encouragement and smiles, and of course my husband who never stopped begging me to “keep trying!”


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