January 12, 2009

Pizza made easy

What happens when you haven't gone to the store in a while, you don't feel like a big, complicated meal and your football team just lost the game that would have taken them to the championships?

You make pizza! What better way to cheer up than getting in the kitchen together, making the dough from scratch, watching it rise, rolling the dough out and letting everyone top their own pizzas. A few minutes in the oven and it's done! When we make pizza at my house we sit around the kitchen --preferably on a cold night for the oven is on high for a while--and make and eat them as they come out of the oven.

My recipe for dough is an easy one. It was given to me by my good friend, Silvia, from Varese, Italy. She now lives in Florida but I know she and her family make this pizza recipe all the time. And I know why --it truly is easy and fast.

When I was in Italy I learned how to make pizza dough from a real 'pizzaiolo' whose name was Aldo. His pizzas were perfection. But we also had better flour, a perfect temperature and wood-fired ovens. If you are really serious about making authentic pizzas, there is no other way but to cough up the dough (pun intended) and get yourself a wood-burning oven.

aldo, the pizzaiolo

But I find that using my old electric one, on about 500 degrees with a pizza stone which is key, works pretty well. And it definitely beats the American-style doughy, tasteless pizza that comes to your door in a box. I will name no names.

aldo's pizzas

one of our creations

I use my Kitchen Aid mixer for this with the dough hook because it's faster. Or the the cuisinart. But in Italy, of course, we used our hands.

For the dough:

3 cups all-purpose flour (or a comb. of a.p. and whole wheat)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup water (+ warm water to activate the yeast)
2 T e.v.o.o.

First, activate your yeast by stirring it in a little bit of warm tap water. Then combine flour and salt in mixer, then add yeast and mix. Add 2 T olive oil and the 1 cup of water and mix until dough comes together wrapped around the dough hook.

Place dough in a bowl covered with a clean towel and let rise in a warm, dry place for at least a half-hour. One hour is usually more than enough. It should double in size.

Makes two medium pizzas. When ready to go, divide dough in half and roll out on a smooth, lightly floured surface. Drizzle olive oil on top before adding toppings.

Also, if you have one, use a pizza peel with some semolina flour sprinkled on top to get your pizzas in and out of the oven. The semolina really keeps it from sticking. Oh, and use homemade tomato sauce or a good quality store bought version.

olive loves pizza night

Some of our favorite toppings (or whatever we can find in the refrigerator):

Fresh mozzarella, anchovies, capers and parsley*
Basil and fresh tomatoes when in season
pesto, mozzarella, tomatoes
smoked pancetta, mozzarella, fresh chili and tomatoes
"pizza bianca" --mozzarella, herbs, pesto

*(combine anchovies and capers with lemon juice and olive oil, then add chopped parsley and pour marinade over tomatoes and mozzarella before baking).

Making pizza is also a great way to fight off the winter blues. Or, if your heater is broken like ours was recently and you need to warm up the house. Or, have a party, invite your friends and let everyone make their own. It's the new fondue party.


  1. We've been wanting to make some homemade pizza for quite a while. And now, I have absolutely no excuse.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. I neeeeeed to make my own dough. I just can't remember to do it with enough lead time. I tend to wait until I'm hungry to fix dinner, which is not very bright!

    That pizza looks amazing. I can taste it through my screen.

  3. i love you! not only do you have a totally cute dog, but you actually KNOW how to make pizza. lite on the toppings, fresh dough, thin crust, hot oven. so good to see that you get it... i love the pic of the pizza maker in italy. so cute.

  4. They look so yummy!
    The funny truth is that the recipe we have been using and that we passed on to you is from good old Mark Bittman, How to Cook Everything!! He made the measurements conversion easy... AND you can use the very same recipe to make focaccia (with some extra dough rising time)

    LOVE the pizzas!! now I am going to read about your nocino...