Pizza Pizza

I am resolved. I am resolved never to make another recipe for pizza dough. Seriously. This is it. My family has been making this recipe for years and it is incredibly delicious. Tried and True. Foolproof. No tweaking necessary. Caramelized onions, grapes (or figs), gorgonzola and mascapone (or some other creamy cheese like ricotta) is one of our favorite combinations.

These strong feelings stem partly from several recent failed experiments but also because I am realizing now truly wonderful homemade pizza is. Really, for me, the idea of a perfect dinner is this: several of these thin-crust pizzas (each topped differently), a salad (a homemade Caesar salad sounds nice at the moment) and a glass of wine.

I can think of only one thing that might — MIGHT — improve this recipe: A wood-burning oven. Which I intend to build soon. Or, let’s say within the next six months. Seriously. It only takes a day-and-a-half to build. It’s just a matter of getting organized. I saw the construction of a wood-burning, adobe oven in San Francisco at Slow Food Nation last month, and I have been wanting my very own ever since. There are two pics at the bottom of this post of the oven I plan to build and there are several other pictures of the adobe-oven-making process here.

This recipe yields enough dough to serve about 6 to 8 people. I am submitting this recipe to the World Food Day blog event. Created by Val of More Than Burnt Toast and Ivy of Kopiaste, this event seeks to raise awareness about world hunger: Around the globe there are 862 million undernourished people. Since 1945, October 16 marks World Food Day, an event created by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. To participate in the blog event, follow these instructions.

Want to build your own adobe oven, too? Buy this book: Build Your Own Earth Oven. I met the authors at SFN and they were pretty awesome. I also just found this article on Sunset.com — it might be interesting to compare the two methods: Sunset’s Classic Adobe Oven

These pizzas take about 10 minutes at 500ºF. When they emerge from the oven, all they need is a sprinkling of fresh herbs and perhaps, but not critically, a drizzling of olive oil.


One key to making a good pizza is this: keep toppings to a minimum. A thin layer of yummy ingredients is all this is needed. It helps keep the crust crisp and allows you to taste the dough. (I may have over done it a bit here. Refraining from overloading the dough is a true skill.)

This adobe oven was made in one-and-a-half days. Supplies, if I recall correctly, cost under $50. I am dying to make one.


Pizza Dough
Adapted from Todd English’s The Figs Table
Makes 4 8- to 10-inch pizzas (Serves 1 to 2 people per pizza)

¼ cup whole wheat flour
3½ cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for rolling
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 2/3 cups lukewarm water
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons active-dry yeast
2 teaspoons olive oil

1. Place the flours and salt in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. (Or knead by hand. I have not had luck making this in the food processor — the engine starts smoking after about five minutes.) Combine the water, sugar and yeast in a small bowl and let sit for five minutes until the mixture bubbles slightly. Add the olive oil and stir. With the mixer on low, gradually add the oil-water mixture into the bowl. Knead until the dough is firm and smooth, under 10 minutes. The dough will be very wet and sort of difficult to work with. I liberally coat my hands with flour before attempting to remove it.

2. Divide the dough into four balls, about 7½ ounces each. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. (Be sure to oil the parchment paper.) Place two balls on a sheet. Lightly rub the balls with olive oil, then cover loosely with plastic wrap. The dough is very sticky and wet, so, be sure to coat the balls or the plastic with oil. Let the balls rise in a warm spot until they have doubled in bulk, about two hours.

3. To roll out the dough: Dab your fingers in flour and then place one ball on a generously floured work surface. Press down in the center with the tips of your fingers, spreading the dough with your hand. When the dough has doubled in width, use a floured rolling pin (or continue using floured hands if you are skilled at making pizzas) and roll out until it is very thin, like flatbread. The outer portion should be a little thicker than the inner portion.

Note: This dough freezes beautifully. After the initial rise, punch down the dough, wrap it in plastic and place in a Ziplock bag. Freeze for several months. When ready to use, let sit at room temperature for about an hour, then proceed with rolling/topping/baking.

Baking:

1. Preheat the oven to 500ºF. Line a sheetpan with parchment paper. Place rolled out dough onto parchment paper. Drizzle dough with a little olive oil and with your hand, rub it over the surface to coat evenly.

2. Top with a thin layer of your choice toppings. Here I used caramelized onions, grapes, gorgonzola and mascapone cheese. (The mascapone is really wonderful). Place in your very hot oven and bake for about 10 minutes or until the crust is slightly brown and the cheese is melting.

3. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with fresh basil. A drizzling of extra-virgin olive oil is nice. I used a little bit of truffle oil, which would be wonderful over a mushroom pizza.

38 Comments

  1. It does look yummy! Perhaps you could pass on your pizza crust recipe to the Linkery. I was there last night for one of their new flatbreads and the crust was just as PLAIN as could be. Not to mention a little over salty – athough that may have been the cheese but I don’t think so. You want to try a new place with me this weekend? Give me a call!

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  2. What a wonderful pizza topping! I am so jealous of people who can make amazing, interesting homemade pizzas. My homemade pizza dough sucks so I never do it.

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  3. I love how rustic the pizza looks. I’d love to make a wood burning oven…if only I had a yard. My apartment might not approve if I build one on my patio. :)

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  4. Your pizza is beautiful! I was using the pizza dough recipe from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook but recently switched over to a whole wheat version from Peter Reinhart.

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  5. Oh my you’ve been doing some great recipes lately! I also want to have my own wood burning oven someday! Can’t wait to hear about the differences you’ll find baking your pizzas in it! But this one looks allready great!

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  6. wow, you build a wood burning oven and i will come :) haha, i’d come eat your creations any day!! I need to make some more pizza… too many ideas are swimming around up there!

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  7. I am making that pizza this weekend – that looks delicious, and a mental check of our pantry and fridge confirms I have what I need! Love the oven too -

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  8. Thank you Alexandra for participating with this lovely recipe for the World Food Day Event. That wood burning oven reminds me of home. Every house practically has one of those ovens in their back yard in Cyprus.

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  9. Thank you so much Alexandra for sending this recipe over for our conga line of dishes. We are so thrilled that were wanted to participate and inspire others:D

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  10. What a combination of flavors! The sweet fruit…the salty cheese…I am in love, seriously.
    The crust looks perfect.

    I’m going to have to convince my parents to build me one of those ovens.

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  11. your crust looks perfect, and your choice of toppings ain’t half bad either. :)
    i do a lot of moving around–do you think it’d be troublesome to haul around a wood-burning oven? :)

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  12. MMMM pizza sounds and looks great, we can’t wait to try it.

    I also love the idea of making the Earth Oven – I live in Santa FE, NM and they are a very common site at the various Native American Pueblos – where they mostly use them to bake a most scrumptious oven bread. But in recent years more and more people are adapting them for private home pizza ovens. Maybe this spring will be the year…

    Ciao, – Alvin

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  13. Your own earth oven.. homemade? That sounds like great fun. Be sure to report back if you make your own!

    I’ve never put grapes on pizza but it sounds delicious!

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  14. That pizza looks phenomenal! I’m finally back from the stupid wedding and ready to give ya’ll more spooky and romantic dancing stories!

    Except now I want to make this pizza.

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  15. Today is World Food Day. Come on over and join the party. Thank you for all you have done to raise awareness for this global issue Alexandra. Now…let’s DANCE!!!!!!

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  16. Just found your blog from No Fear Entertaining featuring you on Finest Foodies Fridays… Love your pictures! That pizza looks delicious, I’ll have to try your pizza dough recipe.

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  17. goodness under $50 for that oven? This is life changing for pizza lovers everywhere!
    Wow, thank you so much for sharing this amazing post and insight. I’m definitely going to have to try your recipe. I’m a huge gorgonzola fan!!

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  18. Made this dough last night (i’m late just creeping your blog because it’s my current obsession!) seriously the pizza dough i made was perfect, i made the base thin. I’ve made another batch so i’ll make it thicker.

    but all in all this is a great and easy recipe.

    The pizza was like pizza express pizza, i was so glad!!

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