Basic Pizza Crust
Yield: 4 personal size pizza crusts
1 packet or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/4 cups very warm water (110-115 degrees)
3 cups all-purpose flour*
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
In a small bowl, stir the yeast and sugar together in the warm water until yeast is dissolved. Let it sit until it begins to foam, about 5 minutes. While yeast is working, place flour and salt in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. With the maching running, pour in the yeast mixture and oil through the feed tube. Process until the dough forms a ball that rides around the bowl. Remove dough from bowl and knead for a minute or two on a work surface until smooth and elastic.
For mixing the dough by hand, stir together the dry ingredients in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Add the liquid ingredients and gradually stir from the center outward with a wooden spoon. When the ingredients are well combined, remove the dough from the bowl and knead it on a floured work surface for about 5 minutes until it is smooth and elastic.
Spray a large bowl with oil spray and transfer the dough to the bowl. Spray the top of the dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, set in a warm spot, and let dough rise for 30 minutes. It should be doubled in bulk. You can also let the dough rise in the refrigerator for several hours. Remove the dough from the bowl and cut into 4 equal pieces. While dough is rising, prepare pizza toppings. See below for topping suggestions.
*To make whole wheat crust, substitute one cup of whole wheat flour for cup of the all-purpose flour.
How to Assemble and Bake the Pizza
Set oven temperature to 550 degrees or its hottest setting. Place a cookie sheet in oven to preheat. You will get the crispiest, least soggy crust with the hottest oven setting.
Place a ball of dough on a work surface sprinkled liberally with cornmeal. Using the heels of your hands, press down to flatten the dough. Lift and gently pull the dough to stretch it into an 8-inch circle. Using your fingertips, press and shape a half inch rim around the crust, making sure it does not stick the work surface. Don't be afraid to use a fair amount of cornmeal to keep the dough from sticking.
Hint: make sure the dough itself is not sticky. If it sticks to the work surface you won’t be able to slide it onto the baking pan. Knead with enough flour until dough is smooth.
Top pizza dough with toppings of your choice. Carefully slide a flexible cutting board under the pizza. (This is where you will appreciate all the cornmeal as it makes this step easy.) Remove hot cookie sheet from oven and sprinkle more cornmeal on it. Quickly but carefully slide pizza onto pan. Put immediately back in oven and bake for 8 - 10 minutes or longer, depending on oven temperature, until the dough is browned and crisp and the cheese is golden and bubbly.
Remove pan from oven and carefully slide pizza onto a cutting board (or leave on pan.) Cut using a cutting wheel or large chef’s knife.
Sun-dried Tomato, Creme Fraiche, & Pine Nuts
1 cup creme fraiche
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped fine
6 tablespoons pine nuts
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Spread 1/4 cup creme fraiche over the dough. Srinkle the parmesan over the creme fraiche. Sprinkle the sun-dried tomatoe pieces over the parmesan. Spread the mozzarella on top and sprinkle pine nuts evenly over cheese. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden.
garlic oil sauce or white sauce
2 cups provolone cheese, shredded
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
1 small yellow squash, thinly sliced
1/2 cup small broccoli florets
3 roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
Brush on garlic oil sauce and sprinkle on the provolone. Spread onions over cheese, and arrange the squash, tomatoes, and broccoli decoratively. Sprinkle parmesan on top. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden.
Roasted Garlic and Pepper
1 large head garlic, unpeeled
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup oil−packed, sun−dried tomatoes, drained, oil reserved
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup roasted red bell peppers, cut into 1/2 inch strips
2/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
To roast the garlic: Preheat oven to 375.
Slice top off garlic head and remove excess white skin; place in small baking dish. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Bake until light brown and soft, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Squeeze out soft cloves into a food processor bowl, along with the sun-dried tomatoes. Process until smooth, adding reserved oil to form a paste. Smear garlic paste over pizza dough. Sprinkle with red peppers and cheeses. Bake until crust is golden and cheese bubbles. Remove from oven and sprinkle with basil and parsley.
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, thinly sliced
salt and pepper
Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
In a large saute pan, heat oil over medium heat. Saute until the onions are soft and dark brown, approximately 25 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with salt and pepper. Let cool. Spread onions evenly over the dough, and top with crumbled Gorgonzola. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until done.
Fresh Tomatoes with Pesto and Goat Cheese
1/2 cup pesto sauce
1 large roma tomato, sliced
3 tablespoons crumbled, soft goat cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
Spread the pesto over the dough. Place tomato slices on pesto, sprinkle with goat cheese and mozzarella. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until browned.
1/2 cup fresh tomato sauce
handful fresh basil leaves
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into slices
Spread sauce over the dough and place mozzarella slices on top. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Drizzle with olive oil. Scatter basil leaves over pizza.
Artichoke Hearts, Olives, and Pecorino
1/2 cup artichoke hearts, drained, sliced
1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
1 roma tomato, thinly sliced
1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved
3 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese
salt and pepper
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
Spread ricotta over dough. Sprinkle with artichokes, tomatoes, olives, romano cheese, salt and pepper. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and top with fresh basil.
1 roma tomato, diced
1 tablespoon chopped jalapeno pepper
2 green onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
1 avocado, chopped
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Sprinkle toppings, except avocado, sour cream and cilantro, over crust ending with the cheese. Bake at 550° 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Top with avocado, a dollop of sour cream and cilantro just before serving.
1/2 cup barbeque sauce
1/2 cup chopped, cooked chicken
1 cup shredded provolone cheese
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/4 yellow pepper, sliced
Mix barbeque sauce and chicken in a small bowl and spread over dough. Sprinkle with onions and peppers and cheese. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned.
1/4 cup tomato sauce, homemade, or jar sauce
1/2 cup sliced, fresh mushrooms
1/4 cup thinly sliced or chopped red or sweet onion
1/2 cup sliced green pepper
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Spread sauce over dough. Sprinkle with vegetables and pepperoni slices. Sprinkle cheese over all. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned.