Sunday, March 21, 2010

Pizza Chronicles

I've been obsessing a bit lately.  Obsessing about pizza.  I bought a pizza stone last Saturday and proceeded to make pizza three times in the past week.  With no good pizza in Mountain View, I figured I should be the one to bring it to my fine city.  So I've been testing out some different methods and recipes, and now I'm here to share my results.

The first night I made Smitten Kitchen's pizza crust with grated fresh mozzarella and some sauce I made awhile back and had in the freezer.  This pizza came out well, but I think I needed to make the crust thinner and use less cheese.  Those are the key elements to homemade pizza - the thinnest crust imaginable and just enough cheese to barely cover it. 

Next up I tried the Pioneer Woman's recipe, mostly because you could make it in advance and let it rise in the fridge.  The problem with making pizza during the week is that the crust usually needs to spend some time rising, and that doesn't really work when you come home from work ready to eat.  Pizza crust almost always uses very simple ingredients.  This one uses olive oil, flour, warm water, kosher salt, and active dry yeast. 

Do you like my amazing cookbook holder?  John's mom sent it to me, and I didn't realize how much I would love it until I started using it.  It's so much easier than having to prop the book open with heavy things around the kitchen.

The recipe makes two crusts, which is perfect if you want to cut down on prep time.  I made the recipe one night after dinner and then we had it two days that week.  The crust is apparently best after rising in the fridge for 1-4 days.

You want to pull the crust out as thin as possible without actually tearing it (or just patching up any holes that happen).  I recommend putting your crust on parchment paper so you can slide the pizza onto your stone or pan to bake it.  Or you can do the cornmeal method, but that makes it much harder to get the pizza onto the stone.

We tried the pesto, mozzarella, and tomato pizza recommended by PW, and it was amazing.  I've never had many pesto-based pizzas before, but it really works well for homemade varieties.  Using pesto makes sure the crust doesn't get too laden down with sauce.  I just bought some pesto sauce at Trader Joe's, and it worked great.  Obviously homemade would be better, but life goes on.

The thinner the tomato and mozzarella slices, the better.

You have to bake your pizza at the hottest temperature your oven will allow (mine is 500 degrees).  Check on the pizza after 8 minutes, but wait until the cheese and crust brown before taking it out of the oven.  For me this is between 10 and 12 minutes.  

I can't really tell you how the bubble formed, but John and I were both very impressed with the bubble.  I got to eat that piece.

Browned cheese and delicious pesto - thank God for homemade pizza.  

I didn't have enough pesto to cover the next pizza, so I decided to go halfsies with tomato sauce.  The pesto side was definitely better, but I'm going to keep working on tomato sauce versions to try and get that perfected. 

No, that's not basil, I didn't have any.  I threw a handful of spinach leaves on and was surprised you couldn't even really taste them. 

Next time more spinach!  And more pizza - though probably 3 times a week is probably plenty.

Pizza Crust

Makes 2 crusts

1 teaspoon instant or active dry yeast
1 ½ cup warm water
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
⅓ cups olive oil

Sprinkle 1 teaspoon yeast over 1 1/2 cups warm (not lukewarm) water.  In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine 4 cups flour and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. With the mixer running on low speed, drizzle in 1/3 cup olive oil until combined with flour. Pour the yeast-water mixture into the bowl and mix until just combined.  In a separate mixing bowl, add a drizzle of olive oil, and form the dough into a ball. Toss to coat the dough in olive oil, then cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap or a lid and store in the fridge until needed.
The dough is best if made at least 24 hours in advance, and is even better if made 3 or 4 days in advance.


  1. 1. If I wasn't allergic to yeast, I'd be all over this.

    2. I just got a cookbook holder and it has totally changed my life. Though mine isn't nearly as cute as yours. Where did she get it? I've decided mine is ugly now and I need yours!

  2. It's from a catalog called Wisteria, I believe.


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