|Clockwise from top left: avocado-mushroom-Sriracha, spinach-artichoke, red pepper-olive, and butternut squash-sage pizza|
Friday pizza nights of my Trash Salad childhood were true genius, serving the dual purposes of temporarily pacifying my sister and my cravings for terrible food which we weren't ever allowed AND could also be used as a catch-all for random leftovers remaining at the end of the week. My mom always made pizzas from scratch using frozen bread dough and while I love this idea, I'm not really blessed with the skills/patience required to stretch the tough pre-made dough out into perfect 16" thin crust circles. This has resulted in some creative efforts on my part, like pizzas on a base of stale naan bread, tortillas, or rice cakes (not recommended for a toaster oven, fyi).
But! I threw together a batch of from-scratch dough in under ten minutes over the weekend (using more or less the 101 Cookbooks recipe, a simplified riff on Peter Reinhart's Breadbaker's Apprentice) and don't think I'll be returning to quesa-pizzas anytime soon.
Obviously the Kitchenaid mixer helped immensely, but it's really not that hard to knead dough for 5-7 minutes if you are less lazy. Divide up dough, stick it in the fridge, leave for 1-3 days. This step is the autolyse phase, or resting the dough so the flour can thoroughly hydrate and form strong and stretchable gluten proteins. Take out of the fridge, leave for 2 hours on the counter, and you're in business. The dough you create is super easy to instantly stretch out for topping. Rolling pins and swearing not required.
Now, I am a thin-crust lover by trade. If you prefer a more Chicago style variety (ick), I would recommend dividing the dough in the recipe into maybe 4 and not 6 sections and patting it straight onto a cookie sheet or whatever you're using because the more you lift the dough and get gravity involved, the more it will stretch the heck out of it. You'll also have to bake thicker crust a lot longer to ensure it's cooked through, which can lead to burned toppings.
Some tips for making pizza dough from scratch:
And some awesome toppings of late:
- 1/2 roasted butternut squash mashed with 1 teaspoon dried sage, sliced roasted red pepper and onion
- 1/2 ripe avocado mashed with 1/4 cup red sauce, fresh mozzarella, sliced mushrooms and green onions, Sriracha drizzle
- olive-oiled crust, fresh spinach, ricotta cheese, kalamata olives, artichoke hearts
- old spaghetti sauce, fresh mozzarella, sliced green olives and roasted red pepper