Thursday, June 24, 2010

Heirloom tomato pesto pizza

I wanted to update my pizza crust recipe because apparently I learned a few tricks since the last time around -- this one turned out so much better: chewy and pretty evenly cooked (though I'm still going to strongly advocate generally for the rosemary + goat cheese + caramelized red onions).

The brilliant innovation came from our neighbor: cook the pizza in a 12" cast iron pan (had been using a cheapo cookie sheet). This forced me to roll out a thicker crust but more importantly kept the pizza from burning on the bottom.

Two other changes: I dissolved the yeast in half as much water (not sure if this is what made the difference but the dough seemed to rise like crazy this time), and substituted half a cup of cornmeal for half a cup of flour (as per Bittman's suggestion)

2.5 cups flour (used AP, bread flour would be better)
0.5 cups fine cornmeal
1 cup warm water
2 tsp of salt
1 packet of active dry yeast
2 tbsp olive oil

Put half a cup of warm water (the hottest that it comes out of the tap works well for us) in a small glass, add and dissolve the yeast, let it sit for 10 minutes until it starts to get frothy

Here is where it gets much easier than my previous effort (which involved slowly adding things to a KitchenAid): Put everything together in a large bowl and stir with a wooden spoon or your hands until you can form the dough into a ball. Turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead for 5-6 minutes. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a cloth. Let rise for 1-2 hours.

When the dough has doubled in size, divide into two sections, roll each into a ball on your floured surface. At this point you can freeze one and cover the other with a cloth while you preheat the oven to 500.

About a cup of basil leaves (chopped down our whole basil plant, but it needed it anyway)
2 glugs of olive oil
small handful of pine nuts or walnuts
Three pinches of salt and a heavy grind of black pepper

Food process to your heart's desire. Kristen says this isn't really pesto since it doesn't have Parmesan, so let's just call it basily olive oil pizza topping.

Roll out the dough gently -- I really just sort of stretch it with my hands which tends to leave a pretty good lip on the edges. Set it in an oiled cast iron pan, top with pesto, a few balls of fresh mozzarella, halved cherry tomatoes, and bake for about 15 minutes.

By the way, I don't think I've mentioned it before -- I can't emphasize how much I love these cast iron pans. I bought an 8" and a 12" a few weeks ago for less than $30 total and don't think I will ever use a non-stick pan again.

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