Pizza is best cooked on a stone and in a very hot oven (I use 500 degrees). The more you use your stone, the better it is cured. I've had mine for about 15 years and it's almost black. The best way to cure a baking stone is to make pizza on it, so it's your DUTY to cook pizza - your stone needs it. Try to avoid "washing" your stone in soapy water or soaking it. I clean my with a rubber scraper and dry it in a hot oven (cooling down from making pizza.)
Basic Pizza Dough
This recipe makes two crusts and I usually double it so that I have four pizzas. I find four pizzas (a double recipes) feeds 4 to 5 Pendziwols (at least six regular folk) with a few slices left over for lunch (or breakfast.) Dough can also be frozen, although I've found that fresh is easier to work with and has a more predictable outcome.
1 cup warm water
1 tsp honey
1 tsp yeast (traditional or instant)
1 tsp salt
a glug of olive oil
2-2/12 cups flour
In bowl of stand mixer with the dough hook attached (or large mixing bowl and a manually operated wooden spoon), combine water, honey and yeast and let stand ten minutes or so to "proof" the yeast. It should get all bubbly. Add some olive oil, 2 cups of flour and the salt, and mix vigorously for a few minutes to combine. Let the mixer run on low for a few more minutes (or knead by hand.) Add more flour as necessary until the dough becomes smooth and not too sticky. It should be soft, and if using the stand mixer, will still pull a bit at the bottom of the bowl. Cover and let the dough rest for at least an hour.
Preheat baking stone in oven to 450 or 500 degrees F. Divide dough into two balls and roll thin. Place on a pizza peel that has been dusted with semolina flour. Top as desired and then slide onto the hot stone. Baking time varies, but is usually ten minutes - watch carefully. While one bakes, prepare the next pizza, adding more semolina to the peel as needed to prevent sticking.
Jean E's secret pizza sauce
I rarely use a tomato based sauce on my pizza, usually only when I'm doing a traditional pepperoni. Instead, I mix up a garlic-infused olive oil that I use as a base. I don't usually measure and often vary the ingredients, but I've come up with the following as a starting point:
1/2 cup olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, pressed
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
dash Heartbeat Hot Sauce
fresh/dried herbs to taste (oregano, basil)
freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional - good on the proscuitto-arugula pizza)
Combine olive oil and garlic in a jar and let stand, covered, for a couple of hours so that the oil is infused with the flavour of the garlic. If you're using fresh herbs, add them at this point too. Add the remaining ingredients and shake the jar vigorously to mix. Spoon onto pizza dough and use a pastry brush to spread. Makes enough for 4-5 pizzas.
Roasted butternut squash, brown butter and crispy sage pizza
Peel, seed and chop 1 small butternut squash
Toss with olive oil, coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
Roast in a 350 F oven for about 20-30 minutes, until squash is cooked through
SAGE AND BROWN BUTTER
Wash and trim stems on one bunch of sage. Pat dry.
Add 3 tablespoons butter to a small frying pan and melt over medium heat.
Add sage leaves and cook until crispy (about 5 minutes - watch carefully), turning large leaves to crisp both sides.
You will notice the butter will begin to foam as the milk solids separate out and sink to the bottom of the pan. The solids will then brown (don't burn!) adding a delicious nutty flavour - some people strain these particles out, but I don't. I would recommend using a light coloured pan (not cast iron like I did) so that you can see the butter browning and not overdo it. Remove with a slotted spoon or tongues, reserving the butter for using on the pizza.
Brush dough with brown butter. Add a few tablespoons of the secret pizza sauce and brush over the dough (or drizzle with olive oil and pressed garlic, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.) Top with roasted butternut squash and grated Thunder Oak medium gouda cheese and sprinkle with crispy sage.
A perennial favourite!! Spread a few tablespoons of sauce on the crust and top with prosciutto. Add chunks of mozzarella (the better the mozzarella you use, the better this will taste. I've also used bocconcini and it's delicious!) Bake until the crust is brown and the cheese is toasty. Remove to cutting board and slice. Toss a few handfuls of arugula with some olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice and sprinkle over the top of the cooked pizza, adding a bit more lemon juice just because.
Margarita Pizza - a classic
For the tomatoes:
Roma work well, but whatever you have on hand will suffice. I've used grape tomatoes sliced in half just as effectively. Adjust your cooking time to the size of the tomato.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Slice Roma tomatoes in quarters and arrange on a parchment covered baking sheet. Brush with olive oil and garlic, and sprinkle with coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. You can also add fresh herbs for added flavour. Roast until tomatoes are wilted and beginning to caramelize, about 45 minutes.
To assemble the pizzas, brush the crust with the olive oil/garlic sauce. top with roasted tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. Bake until crust is golden and cheese is toasty. Remove to cutting board and top with chopped fresh basil leaves and a drizzle of olive oil.