Thursday, June 21, 2012

[Almost] Margherita Pizza


I say "almost" because Margherita Pizzas come in some variation (onions, parmesan, etc..), but always have three basic toppings: fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, and sliced tomatoes. Seeing as how I don't like whole tomatoes, I used sauce instead. And it still turned out amazing!





See my recipes for pizza dough and red pizza sauce in this post. Once again, I've resorted to jarred sauce because I am still "making do" with what I've got. I have been unable to find tomato puree in any grocery stores, so I am considering just buying tomatoes myself and starting from scratch. If or when I do that, I'll be sure to write a post about it if I'm successful. 

Ingredients:
  • fresh basil leaves, cut into pieces
  • red sauce OR a tomato thinly sliced
  • fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • optional: parmesan cheese, onions, olives, artichokes, or anything else (which might deviate from the "Margherita" part of it!)

Directions:

1. I prepared my pizza dough, and this time I added oregano to it. I covered the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and set it by the window in the sunlight (a warm spot) to let it rise for an hour. Meanwhile, I put my pizza stone in the oven and let that heat at 425 degrees for about 40 minutes.



2. I sprinkled my pizza peel liberally with cornmeal. If I don't have cornmeal, I use flour instead but I try to use only "just enough" of that--too much flour will make you get a tongue full of flour when you bite into the pizza. You can easily overdo it with flour but you can't with cornmeal. 


3. Since the dough bowl was greased well with olive oil, the dough falls out of the bowl easily. The "top" of the dough in the bowl is relatively dry, whereas the "bottom" of the dough (the side against the bottom of the bowl itself) is wet. The dry side of the dough I put on the pizza peel where the cornmeal is--this helps prevent it from sticking too much (basically just flip the bowl over onto the peel to let the dough dump out). On the wet side (now facing up), I rub some flour over it to help dry it out for rolling. I hope that makes sense!


The dough on the pizza peel. I made the photo XL so that you can see how "wet" it looks. 

4. After rubbing/sprinkling flour over the wet dough, I press it with my fingers to help begin shaping it into a pie. Then I gave it a few gentle rolls with my rolling pin--not pressing too hard--about one roll in each direction (north, south, east, west from center). Then I rolled it gently in a circular motion around the pie.



At this point, I usually give the pizza peel a few "shakes" to make sure the dough is loose from the peel. If it's sticking, then I take a pancake flipper to loosen it and try to throw more cornmeal underneath the dough.

5. I sprinkled garlic powder around the outside ring of the crust, then I added the sauce, cheese, and basil. 









6. I always use my pancake flipper to help slide my pizza off the peel and onto my stone. Some attempts are easier than others, and this one was mediocre. The pizza didn't get totally wonky and the toppings didn't fall all over the oven, but neither did it stay very circular. 





7. Baked for 13 minutes, then it's done! The cheese ended up melting off the pizza and onto the stone a little bit, but that's not a big deal. It wasn't as beautiful as it could've been, but it tasted great all the same!



As always, enjoy!