Margherita Pizza from Scratch

This morning started out a little bit sad. I knew that today was the day Ali would be flying out, and I felt like we left so many summer plans unfinished. However, bringing my (semi emotionally underdeveloped) kitten over to say goodbye and talking about all the awesome things she’s going to be doing over there only motivated me to make some great posts here for her to read from overseas!

It had to be pizza. Today was perfect, sunny but not too hot and fantasies of swirling pizza crust through the air clouded my ability to concentrate on finding a recipe. Active yeast is intimidating, but I think the whole meal was a huge success and I’m so glad to be debuting this blog with it!

Ingredients:

Thick, perfectly soft yet crisp crust:

1 packet quick-rise yeast

3 cups all purpose flour

1/2 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon salt

olive oil

My preferred margherita toppings:

2 cups (more or less) shredded mozzarella cheese

About 10 small fresh mozzarella balls

2 large tomatoes on the vine

3 or 4 fresh basil leaves

Like I said, I was enormously intimidated by the active yeast (falsely advertised, you only need one packet!). Get it out. Stare it down. Preheat the oven to lowest temp (mine went to 170). As soon as the oven is preheated, turn it off but leave the door closed trapping that warm air right where you want it.

To start run the tap until just before the water is hot enough to burn you. Too hot and you will kill the yeast, too cold and it won’t activate. I didn’t take the temperature of my water but it should be about 120 degrees. Fill one cup of hot water in a liquid measuring cup and add the honey. Stir to dissolve and add the yeast on top of the water. Make sure the yeast is spread out, but don’t stir it in— let it sit for 5-6 minutes and it will foam. In the meantime, take a big oven-safe bowl and fill it with hot water then set it off to the side. I used ceramic, but yeast likes anything that isn’t metallic. There is a huge leap until my next picture due to my anxiety about the yeast working!

With your yeast activating and your bowl heating up, break out the trusty KitchenAide mixer. Ali is going to hate me for this seeing as it’s been on her wishlist for a number of years. A food processor would also work for this step. I grabbed the bread paddle attachment (as seen below). Put your flour and salt in the mixer then slowly slowly slowly add your yeast, and don’t spill! After a few minutes a ball will form. Turn off the mixer and dump out your big bowl of hot water. Dry the bowl, set it to the side once again and flour a surface for the tacky dough.

Bread Paddle Attachment

Slide the dough ball carefully onto the floured surface and work until it isn’t sticky. Drizzle olive oil over the whole ball and also in the bottom of the warmed-up big bowl. Set it in the bowl covered by a damp warm towel and put it in the still-warm oven for about an hour an a half.

Waiting is the hardest part! I spent the time deciding what to make for dessert— check the next post for Snickerdoodle Blondies! Other than that, make sure all of your toppings are in order.

When you think you just can’t wait another second, pull the bowl out of the oven. Immediately preheat the oven to 425. The dough should be about twice the size it was when it went in but go ahead and punch it down. At this point I used an 11 inch pizza pan, which made a really thick crust. For thinner crust you could split it between two pizzas or go for a larger rectangle. Stretch it out across the whole pan then stick it right back into the oven to rise again. While the dough was re-rising I cut up my tomatoes and cut the small mozzarella balls into thirds. After a few minutes, pull the pizza out and set to work putting your toppings on. I eyeballed it and sprinkled whatever seemed right. Here it is before the plunge:

Yum! Into the oven for 15-20 minutes. I like my cheese nice and toasted… Since this was Sunday dinner I ended up as the chef for my parents, my brother and myself. We paired it with a basic salad of fresh green from the local farmer’s market with olive oil and creme balsamic as dressing (my dad used the bleu cheese and added croutons… he must have forgotten about the blondies). It was the perfect patio summer dinner!

{This recipe was adapted from the amazing Simply Scratch}

-Greta

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