Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Hungry Fox Caprese Salad Pizza

What to do when you have an abundance of basil and tomatoes? Make America's favorite fast food: Pizza!

Actually, I was hungry for a caprese salad AND pizza, so the logical result was to make a pizza with all the components of a caprese salad on top.

I really like the texture of pizza crust when it's baked on a stone. I've had a lot of practice making messes in my ovens as I've attempted to use a peel to slide my pizza onto the stone. Then I experimented with laying a piece of parchment paper on the back side of my baking sheet, dusting it with cornmeal, and then laying out the pizza dough on that. Place the baking sheet next to the baking stone and slide the parchment paper, pizza and all, onto the stone. It works great.

Maybe somebody else had this idea first, but I came up with it one day in an effort to bake 2 dozen miniature pizzas at once, and I needed to get them all onto the stone at the same time. Don't you just love it when a plan comes together?


The toppings that I used for this pizza were olive oil, Victoria Taylor's Sicilian Seasoning, fresh tomatoes, fresh whole basil leaves, roasted red peppers, mozzarella and parmesan cheese, and a drizzle of good balsamic vinegar.

Here's my crust:

3 1/2 c. bread flour
1 pkg. rapid rise yeast
1/2 c. warm water
1 c. warm water
1/2 tsp. salt
1 T. olive oil
1 tsp. sugar

Heat oven with baking stone on bottom rack to 450 degrees.

Combine the 1/2 c. warm water, yeast and sugar in a measuring cup and dissolve for 15 minutes. (It should be foamy; if it's not, then your water was too hot and start over.)

Put 3 c. of the flour, the salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Pour in the yeast mixture and the 1 c. of warm water. Pulse and run until the dough comes together in a ball and run the blade for about 3 minutes, pulsing, total to knead the dough. (Drizzle in more water if the dough does not collect into a ball.)

Use the remaining 1/2 c. flour to dust your counter; turn the dough out onto it and knead briefly until it's smooth and shiny. Turn into a lightly oiled bowl and turn the dough to coat with the oil. Cover with a dinner plate and set the bowl over another bowl of warm water for about one hour, or until doubled in size. Turn out onto counter, cut in half (or however large you want your pizzas) and shape each piece into a ball or whatever shape you want it to be. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes.

Shape into flat disks (toss, roll, etc.). Turn a baking sheet back-side-up and cover it with a piece of parchment paper. Dust it with cornmeal and lay the dough out on it. Poke it all over with a fork to prevent air bubbles; brush with olive oil, add seasonings and whatever toppings you want. Slide parchment paper with pizza on it onto the hot stone and bake until crust has browned and cheese is golden, about 10-15 minutes or so depending on the toppings and size of pizza.

Bon App├ętit!
Chef Debbie

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