RECIPE for One Large or Two Small Spring Pizzas
3-4 cups Unbleached White Flour (I use King Arthur’s)
1/2 cup Semolina flour or whole wheat flour (optional)
1 TB dry yeast
2 TB olive oil (I use Monini for my every-day cooking)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup Warm water (on the hot side of warm)
1. At least two hours (the more the better) before serving, mix yeast, water and one cup of the flour together in a large bowl.
Some people let this sponge rest for 10 minutes or so; I rarely do.
2. Add the olive oil and salt and mix well.
3. Add flour, cup by cup (or half-cup by half-cup) until you can no longer mix it with a wooden spoon and it begins to form a sticky mass. At this point I start kneading it with my hands right in the bowl, adding a bit more flour until it loses stickiness.
4. Turn it out onto a floured board or surface (I have a marble surface) and knead for 10-15 minutes, adding more flour if needed, until it becomes truly smooth and elastic. I find that it’s tough to rough up pizza dough, so don’t be timid with it.
5. Oil the mixing bowl, place the dough ball in it, roll it around to cover it with he oil, and cover the top of the bowl with a tight film of plastic wrap. Some people use a dampened dish towel, but I have found plastic to do a better job at enhancing the rise. Leave it in a warm spot for as many hours as you can. If you leave it a long time, it will lose its ball shape and swell up into the bowl in an almost-bubbly look.
7. At least an hour before cooking, slide a baking stone (if you have it) onto the middle rack of the oven and preheat the oven at 450 degrees (some prefer an even hotter oven).
8. Choose your toppings according to your palate and larder. I’m intentionally vague here, for this is what cooking is all about–discovering what goes well with what according to your taste.
The one I just made, pictured here, was topped by freshly grated parmigiano reggiano, Italian provolone, and sliced fresh mozzarella di bufala (I splurge on a ball of this heavenly stuff a couple of times a month); lemon sliced and sauteed with a whole garlic clove (which I then minced and sprinkled on the pizza); a big, big handful of chopped fresh herbs and arugula; sliced baby zucchini and whole zucchini flowers stuffed with fresh chevre–briefly seared in olive oil. Sometimes I add some dried pepper flakes (from my Thai peppers).
9. Twenty minutes before popping into the oven, place a sheet of parchment paper a little bigger than the size of the pizza onto a pizza peel or cutting board. Stretch and shape the pizza dough with your fingers (not a rolling pin) until it is the size and shape and thickness you like. Brush the top lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with the cheeses, top with the toppings and place in the oven for 15-20 minutes, checking frequently. Ta-da!