September 22, 2017
When I was younger, making pizza for dinner was a regular activity. Every time we made the trip to the Whole Foods in Edgewater (this was before the Closter one opened up, making the whole process so much simpler), we would come home with the Whole Foods pizza dough, pizza sauce, and a big container of shredded mozzarella. My sister and I would be entertained for hours, stretching the dough, arranging the sauce and cheese just so, and then pestering our mom until our creations came out of the oven.
I love homemade pizza. It’s great because its an inexpensive way to feed a bunch of people, and you can control everything about it – the thickness of the crust, the toppings, the level of melted-ness of the cheese.
The key to a great pizza made in the oven (when you don’t have a pizza stone) is to oil your pans generously, brush the crust with oil, and cook at a high temp (400°+). This creates a crispy crust all along the bottom, and prevents the dreaded soggy center.
Since the pizzas of my childhood, I’ve broadened my horizons past the basic plain pie: one of my new favorites is a white three-cheese and honey pizza. I make it with whole milk ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan, and top it with fresh basil and truffled honey once it’s out of the oven (it’s the best).
Recently we tried prosciutto, parm and mozzarella (which was equally delicious). The secret is high quality prosciutto – I highly recommend the San Daniele from Jerry’s. Another new favorite is cheesy margarita, with fresh tomato slices, shredded parm and mozzarella, and fresh whole basil leaves. These toppings are only meant to be inspiration for your own pies: this recipe is totally free form, so be creative and make it your own.
1 lb pizza dough
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 container pizza sauce
2-3 sprigs fresh basil leaves
2 bags mozzarella, shredded
1 block of parm
½ cup light olive oil
¼ cup flour
prosciutto di San Daniele
whole milk ricotta
- Preheat your oven to 400°
- Coat a glass bowl in a thin layer of oil. Place pizza dough and garlic in bowl, along with a little more olive oil. Turn dough until coated with oil, making sure to spread out garlic along the surface. Place a moist towel over the bowl and let sit for 45-60 min.
- Once the dough has risen, pull out a wood or marble cutting board, coat with flour and divide dough into thirds. Stretch to desired thickness.
- Coat 3 sheet pans generously with oil. Place a single pizza on each pan, stretching as needed.
- For prosciutto pizza: Spread an even layer of tomato sauce across the dough, leaving 1-1½” or so for the crust. Sprinkle with mozzarella and grate parm to taste. Oil crust and bake for 15-20 minutes,* or until crust has cooked through and cheese has melted.** Top with prosciutto and basil leaves before serving.
- For margarita pizza: Sprinkle mozzarella and grate parm over dough, leaving space for the crust. Slice and core heirloom tomato, then arrange slices and basil leaves on top of the cheese layer. Oil crust and bake 15-20 minutes.
- For ricotta honey pizza: Drizzle honey across pizza pie. Place evenly spaced quenelles1 of ricotta along the inside, leaving space for the crust. Spread ricotta, top with shredded mozzarella and grated parm. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Drizzle with more honey and roughly chopped basil leaves and serve.
*The time the pizza takes to cook depends on the thickness of the crust: thicker pies may take closer to 25 minutes. Thin crust around 15.
**After 15 minutes have gone by, lift up the pizza with a pair of tongs to check the bottom: if the crust is turning golden brown, the pizza is finished.
1. Quenelles – an oval or egg shape, https://pastrychefonline.com/how-to-make-a-quenelle/