June 23, 2008

pizza margherita perfetto

I'm emerging from my weekend at the beach and my long and tedious day back at work. Whew! Why the hell don't we embrace the 4-day work week again? Well, while you ponder that one (and write your congress person or CEO), and I watch Dr. Strangelove out of the corner of my eye, here's a catch-up from last week:

So I was following SmittenKitchen's pizza-making posts the last week or so (she was on a kick, but it was a good kick indeed!) The lovely and talented lady has wiped away (eh, virtually) my tears of pizza-crust-making frustration.

Check out her recipe for Wine-and-Honey Pizza Dough here and tips for pizza-making here. Her dough was miraculously soft, sweet, and gluten-y! I always seem to end up with pizza dough that wants to tear and fill with holes, but this baby had wonderful texture.

Simple Margherita Pizza
based on SK's pizza tips above

1 batch Wine-and-Honey pizza dough
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T olive oil
10 cherry tomatoes, cleaned and stems/flaws trimmed
1/3 C white wine
1/2 t red pepper flakes
1/2 t sugar
3/4 t salt
cornmeal, 1-3 T approx.
3/4 C shredded mozzarella
1/2 C fresh mozzarella, torn into large (1 inch) chunks 
1/3 C fresh basil, torn

Make the pizza dough 2-24 hours ahead of time. I made my dough too late in the evening, so once the dough was rolled out into the desired shape (rectangular for me), I placed it between two sheets of plastic wrap, rolled it up, and covered the ends of the roll with another piece of wrap. When ready to make dinner the next night, I took the pizza dough out about 15 minutes prior to baking, at the same time as preheating the oven to 400o. (If using a pizza stone or cast iron pan, place it in the oven to preheat as well.)

To make the sauce, first bring a small pot of water to a boil (just 2 cups or so), adding the tomatoes and poaching for 1 1/2 minutes. Remove from the heat, cool the tomatoes with cold water, and remove the skins. (I had to squeeze the little tomatoes till they popped; then the skin slid right off.) Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a saute pan for a minute or two on medium high. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook another minute or two, then add the tomatoes and reduce the heat to medium. Add wine, sugar, and salt; and cook on medium 30-45 minutes, until the tomatoes have broken down.

Place your prepared pizza dough on your surface of choice. I find the best option is my makeshift pizza paddle: a piece of cardboard approximately 12 x 12 inches, with a 2-inch folded edge I use as a handle. Coat your surface generously with cornmeal, placing the dough on top. Brush the pizza with extra olive oil, and dust with a small amount of kosher salt, if you wish. Spread the tomato sauce over the crust, then top with the two kinds of mozzarella and basil.

Transfer your pizza from the prep surface or pizza paddle to either a baking sheet coated with cornmeal or to the preheated pizza stone or cast iron pan. Bake 10-15 minutes or until the crust is a dark golden brown.

Remove from the oven, cool 3-5 minutes, cut and serve.

Yield one large pizza.


  1. Make it 5 readers?
    Seriously, you may be inspiring me to actually cook something, as well as reminding me that I love to bake.

  2. I don't make particularly good pizza crust (all that kneading-bah), but I've found that even bad homemade pizza is good. Especially when you (I) live 15 miles from the nearest pizza place.

  3. Cheese bubbly, me likey. Great job on the pizza! H

    Smitten Kitchen is great: we have also been inspired to make pizza, because of her tips and techniques that make it easy.