We bought a pizza stone this past weekend. We used to have one, but it broke or got left in an oven on some long ago move; so when we hit the magic trifecta while shopping at Cost Plus (Remembering we wanted a stone, finding one on sale, and having a coupon on top of the sale) – we acted quickly.
Making our own ‘za has been much on our minds ever since our friends Bob and Don had us over for their home made pizza early last month; and the ever increasing shrubbiness of the basil on the deck has had Rich contemplating topping combinations – all culminating in lovely fresh basil leaves on top. We settled on a vegetarian version of our favorite mix – pitted kalamata olives from the bar at our market, sautéed red, yellow and orange peppers, sautéed onion (for me, not so much for Rich), and sautéed plum tomatoes, all topped with feta cheese, fresh BelGioso Mozzarella, and of course, garden-fresh basil.
Don had sent us his recipe for pizza dough, noting that, aside from making a lovely crust, the proportions are very easily halved (or even quartered). Since the recipe as he gave it to us made enough for four pizzas, I halved it and popped the ingredients into our bread machine in the standard order: liquids, then flour mixture, then the yeast on top of it all. Setting the machine on ‘pizza dough’, I set about warming some olive oil in a skillet and sautéeing first the peppers, then the onion, and lastly the tomatoes. I had thought to do some garlic as well, but we opted to rub the cut bulb directly on the dough as it was grilling. Next time (and there WILL be a next time – this was one TASTY ‘ZA), I’ll start the sauté stage with some garlic to flavor the oil, and then move on to the other toppings. The tomatoes also turned into a (rather nice, actually) ‘sauce’ instead of the slightly ‘charred’ slices we had thought we’d get – so I cut up some more fresh to scatter around with the other toppings over the sauce.
At this point, the dough cycle was complete.
It didn’t quite LOOK right; and there was still a fair amount of flour at the sides of the pan. Maybe in halving the recipe, I had gone under the minimum volume requirement for our machine to operate efficiently – I don’t recall reading about that in the manual, but SERIOUSLY, who reads the manual? Undaunted (and quite pleased with myself that I had started the whole process well in advance of dinner), I stirred it all together, closed the lid and restarted the pizza dough cycle…
Second time was the charm; a lovely batch of dough ready to be tossed with a bit of flour and rolled into corn meal strewn discs. Our first effort wouldn’t win any perfect pizza contests – I can’t decide if it looks more like a heart or Africa (the hole in the center is a courtesy detail, added to stimulate dinner conversation, and in no way indicates user error on the part of your crack pizza cooking staff). Next time I’ll make the dough in the amount called for, allowing us to roll it out a bit thicker and (maybe?) avoid dough hole issues.
Here’s the dough recipe in the original proportions:
•2 cups water
•2 tbsp olive oil
•2 tbsp sugar
•2 tsp salt
•5 cups flour
•2 tsp yeast
This makes enough dough for four 12” thin crust or two 12” thick crust – we prefer thin crust, but will make this amount of dough in the future to give us pizza-forming flexibility.
Combine ingredients in bread machine in the order specified (ours is WET, DRY, YEAST) and cycle on ‘pizza dough’
Once the dough is ready, divide in two and roll out one on a floured surface. Sprinkle with corn meal and transfer to an oiled baking sheet, corn meal side down. Sprinkle the bare top with corn meal. Repeat with second half of dough.
At this point, you can cover the dough in the pans with plastic wrap and let it sit for a while – a nice touch when you’re entertaining.
Place pizza stone on your gas grill and preheat for five to ten minutes – to about 375º to 400º. Sprinkle the stone with a little cornmeal or flour and place dough on the stone.
Close the grill and cook the plain dough five to ten minutes, then flip and cook an additional five to ten minutes.
Add sauce, toppings and cheese, close the grill and cook for another ten minutes or so until the crust is golden brown.
Let rest for a few minutes, cut and serve (OR – slide back onto the baking pan and toss into a warm oven while you make the second pizza).
Sit back and enjoy your pizza. This was so rich and flavorful (and just the right amount of ‘smoky’) that Rich commented that he didn’t even miss the meat. I think that the dough was so good that I may have to try grilling it plain, serving it with some good olive oil and grilled haloumi and lemon slices (if you haven’t tried grilled lemon slices, you’re missing a treat).