Some of the best pizza I’ve ever eaten is from NYC. I haven’t been to Chicago, so I can’t compare the two, but NYC pizza, in my eyes, is pretty damn tasty. Even the so-called “pedestrian” street offerings are worlds above the pizza served in Vancouver.
Mike and I sampled some delicious pies in NYC and I’ve been wanting to make pizza at home again ever since, so when Penny from jeroxie.com invited me to a pizza pie party, I didn’t hesitate to say “yes!” The last time I made home made pizza was last summer on the barbecue, so I was long overdue for another pizza making session.
I started with a simple Mario Batali yeast based pizza dough that I kneaded with my Kitchen Aid and set to proof in my oven. The dough was supposed to proof for 45 minutes, but in reality I proofed it for over an hour while I was out buying toppings.
We decided on four different kinds of pizza and headed out to Whole Foods to buy pecorino, bocconcini, pepperoncinis, crushed tomatoes, and a basil plant. The staff at Whole Foods was super helpful, as usual. When we couldn’t find pepperoncinis, the deli people sold us some of their own supply that they use strictly for sandwiches and the cheese dude was happy to slice off a tiny slice of pecorino for us. As a bonus, I found a wedge of my favourite ever cheese: le dauphin, a super-soft, creamy, delicious cheese.
If you’ve made pizza at home, you know that the thing most home-made pizza makers are worried about is soggy pizza. With that in mind, I didn’t bake the pizzas on pizza stones or baking sheets, instead I put the pizzas on parchment paper and put them directly on the oven racks as a precaution against soggy bottoms. Thankfully, all the pizzas ended up with firm, crisp crusts.
The four pizzas we made were: a sauceless, cheeseless, spicy pizza; a classic margherita pizza; a pecorino and egg pizza; and a prosciutto, pineapple, and caramelized red onion pizza.
I started out with the take on aglio e olio by topping one of the rounds of dough with olive oil, sliced garlic, and sliced thai red chilis and pepperoncinis. This pizza was Mike’s favourite, he liked the simple spiciness of the peppers with the fruity olive oil.
The margherita pizza was simply crushed tomatoes, fresh basil leaves and baby bocconcinis. This is one of my favourite flavour combinations and on pizza it’s delicious.
The pecorino and egg pizza was the least favourite of the bunch. I’ve had delicious egg-topped pizzas before, but the simplicity of this one just didn’t work.
My favourite of the night was the prosciutto, pineapple, and caramelized red onion pizza. The saltiness of the prosciutto and the sweetness of the pineapples and red onions was perfect.
Pizza Dough Recipe adapted from foodnetwork.com
1 cup warm water
1/2 ounces instant yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
Combine the water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl and stir until dissolved. Add salt and 1 cup of the flour and mix with a wooden spoon to make a loose batter. Add 2 more cups of the flour and stir with the spoon for 2 to 3 minutes to incorporate as much flour as possible.
Bring the dough together by hand and turn out onto a floured board or marble surface. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes, until you have made a smooth, firm dough. (I used my Kitchen Aid with the dough hook and it worked fine)
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a towel. Set aside to rise in the warmest part of the kitchen for 45 minutes.
Cut the risen dough into 4 equal pieces and knead each portion into a round. Cover again and let rest 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 450˚F.
Dust a clean work surface lightly with flour. With your fingers and palms, flatten one of the dough rounds into a 10-inch oval about 1/4-inch thick.
Top the dough with your favourite pizza toppings and bake in the oven for 15-18 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. (I baked my pizzas on parchment paper directly on the oven rack, but this recipe works with a pizza stone as well).
Note: I rolled the pizza dough with a rolling pin, but you’re not supposed to do this because it compresses the carbon dioxide in the dough, making it more cracker-like during baking. The pizzas were on the very-thin crust side, and next time I will be hand shaping/stretching the dough.
Thanks for hosting the pizza party Jeroxie! Happy Birthday! We have a ton of leftover pizza in the fridge now, but sometimes I think it almost tastes better the next day! Now comes the real challenge, deciding between hot or cold pizza the next day! Opinions?