It had been quite a while since I’d made my own pizzas but now I don’t know why I’ve waited so long! Yes, it is a bit of work but oh so worth it.
We did a trial run a couple of weeks ago, one that wasn’t nearly worthy of posting here. The pie stuck to the stone in a horrible way. The crust was too thick so it was still doughy when I cut into it. Back into the oven it went, where it got burnt while I was distracted.
Back to the drawing board I went. I know about using corn meal and/or flour and how it’s supposed to let the pie slide right off the peel and onto the stone and all that happy jazz. It doesn’t work for me. As in never, ever comes close. So when I read about using parchment it was like a light bulb went off in my head. It worked great!
So yes, I do use a baking stone and I have a pizza peel. If you don’t have those I’m guessing you could simply place the parchment on the oven rack or just use a baking sheet.
I’ll do this in two parts. Of course everyone has her own preferences about pizza toppings so add whatever you like. Use whatever sauce you like, but I prefer this freshly made, slightly chunky with a bit of spicy kick version.
- Flour – about 5 cups
- Semolina Flour – 1 cup
- Salt – 2 teaspoons
- Yeast – 1 1/2 packets. I used Rapid Rise because I’m just impatient. Regular will work fine.
- Sugar – 3 tablespoons
- Olive Oil – 1/4 cup plus more for oiling the bowls
- Water – 2 cups
- Diced Tomatoes – 2 large cans
- Tomato Paste – 1 tablespoon
- Olive Oil – 1 to 2 tablespoons
- Garlic – 5 or 6 cloves, minced
- Crushed Red Pepper
- Rosemary – a tablespoon or two, minced
- Oregano – a tablespoon or two, minced
- Red Wine – 1/3 cup
- Mozzarella – 6 cups
- Red Peppers – roast them yourself or buy them in a jar. It really doesn’t make much difference for pizza.
- Sausage – 1 to 2 pounds
In a small bowl, combine the yeast, sugar and 1/2 cup of warm water. Stir it together. Set it aside and let it bubble.I used the mixer but you can do this by hand too. In a large bowl, combine the semolina, salt and 1 1/2 cups white flour.Mix in the remaining 1 1/2 cups water.Mix in the olive oil then the yeast mixture.Gradually mix in the remaining flour, probably another 3 cups. The dough will still be a little bit sticky but it’ll pull away from the sides of the bowl and hold together.Dust a work surface with flour and knead the dough for about ten minutes, adding more flour as needed, to keep it from sticking.Divide the dough into two portions. Pour just a little olive oil into the bottoms of two bowls. Place the dough in the bowl then turn it over so it’s oiled on both sides. Cover the bowls with a damp kitchen towel and set aside in a warm spot. Let the dough rise until it’s doubled in size, about 45 minutes to an hour.
Note: I like a pretty thick crust so I divided the dough in half. If you want a thinner pie, divide it into thirds or even fourths. It’ll keep in the fridge for a while if you don’t want to make that much pizza at one time.Now that the dough is rising, it’s time to start the sauce. Mince the garlic and snip the herbs.Drain the tomatoes.Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and add the garlic and herbs and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook for a minute or two then add the tomatoes and paste.Simmer for another few minutes then add red wine. Continue simmering, uncovered. It’ll thicken up a bit and be just right by the time the crust is ready for sauce.Remove the sausage from the casing and chop it up. Brown it, just as you would ground beef. You can also grill it whole then slice it up. I actually prefer it grilled and sliced but it was way too cold to go outside and fire up the grill.Roast the red peppers under the broiler, remove the charred skins and dice them up. This is the time to heat the oven and the baking stone too. Place the stone in the lower third of the oven and heat at 475 for a good 45 minutes to an hour before putting the pie in.Once the dough is ready, punch it down and stretch it gently into a circle. I’m not any good at tossing but I want to learn how!Place the dough on a piece of parchment paper and press it into the desired size, building up the edges just a bit.Add toppings – sauce, mozzarella and a little freshly-grated Parmesan. A couple of fresh basil leaves would’ve been a good addition.Add the remaining toppings.Carefully slide the whole thing, still on the parchment, onto the baking stone. Bake at 475 to 500 for 15 to 18 minutes.
Slide the peel under the parchment to remove it from the oven then slide the whole pie off the paper and onto a cutting board or work surface.Let it sit for a minute or two before slicing.Slice into wedges and enjoy with the rest of that red wine you opened.