It's official: I am now turning to Michelle for all of my yeasty dough endeavors. You might recall that it was Michelle's recipe that restored my faith in homemade hamburger buns. Now she's done it again, and this time it's pizza dough.
I've posted a recipe before--it's not worth linking to it now--but my feelings about it were lukewarm at best. What I really wanted was a chewy, substantial crust with great flavor and not too much bulk. I thought that I simply couldn't get it at home, at least not without building a dedicated pizza oven on my tiny little back patio. I was wrong.
My problem was not the oven I was using (though I remain convinced that the very best pizza comes from those extra-hot ovens), but the dough. All that fuss over kneading, all that wondering whether I should use more oil or less, feeling like I couldn't make pizza on a weeknight unless I got home from work at 4pm: it's all over. Thanks to Michelle, I'm going the minimalist route from now on.
And I'm not kidding when I say minimalist. The ingredients in this recipe can be counted on one hand. The active time is under 10 minutes, and that includes the kneading. The paltry amount of yeast will draw one of your eyebrows inexorably upward. In short, apparently there's an inverse relationship between the complexity of a pizza dough recipe and the quality of the resulting dough. This is the easiest dough recipe I've ever used. It's also the best pizza I've ever made.
And it's not just shrug your shoulders and say "yeah, I guess it's better." This is a whole new ballgame. If you've been looking for a good, chewy crust, give this one a try. Don't be put off by the small amount of yeast, by the seemingly insufficient mixing and kneading, or by the lack of rise in the dough before you bake it. The gluten develops beautifully as the dough rests--I was amazed at how thin I could stretch the dough without it tearing--and the edge of the crust will bake up with just enough rise to give it a nice feel as you sink your teeth into it.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Once you've made your dough, once you've let it rest overnight or for two nights and you're ready to bake it into something delicious, you'll need a topping. I'm certainly not one to turn up my nose at a good, old-fashioned tomato sauce and cheese pizza, but sometimes I like to branch out into something new and different, maybe even new and extraordinary. And let's be honest: sometimes I'm helped along by having a lot of something in the fridge and wanting to enjoy it before it spoils.
Yes, it's a bowl of peppers. I confess I'm not very good at using peppers. Oh, I can cook them just fine, the question is what to do with them. It wasn't very long ago that I first started liking them at all, so I'm still building up my arsenal of recipes for the summer months, when I get them by the bagful in my weekly CSA share. I've latched onto a few solid keepers, and this is one of them.
This pizza comes from Chez Panisse Vegetables, and I could eat it for weeks. It is nothing more than peppers and onion, thinly sliced, tossed with herbs and a light vinaigrette. The result: sweet and tart, with a hint of bite from the onion, gathered together and grounded by the herbs. I'm often tempted to skip the pizza and eat the topping raw, as a salad, just so that I can enjoy it sooner. But the high heat of the oven brings out an extra layer of sweetness in the peppers, and they nestle so cozily into the cheese, that the pizza version is (so far) irresistible. Did I mention that the crust is pretty good, too?
From My Blogroll
Monday, October 19, 2009