Pizza So Easy You'll Want to Make It Every Week (Like We Do)
On Saturday nights at our house, you can count on the sweet, tangy perfume of homemade pizza wafting through the hallways. Even if there's nothing special planned, our pizza makes us feel like we're having a party. The only problem with this pizza is that it is so delicious that we have lost all taste for the frozen and take-out variety. Opening a box now seems like sacrilege, and that's OK, because this recipe only takes 15 minutes of active time. The main thing is making the dough ahead of time so it has time to rise. (A food processor eliminates kneading, but I have also included by-hand directions.)
We've been sinking our teeth into this authentic Italian delicacy ever since I tried the recipe by my favorite food writer, Mark Bittman. Looking back, it's hard to believe that I had gone ten years married to a man from Milan before I even attempted making my own pizza. Something so good had to be very difficult, I reasoned. Then I realized that the reason, for example, the sauce tastes so bright is because it's made from raw tomatoes and not much more. Just goes to show me, as the Italians have known for a long time, how good simple can be.
(adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything)
Serves 4 adults (or 2 adults and 4 children)
- 3 cups flour (bread flour is preferable)
- 2 teaspoons coarse salt
- 1 teaspoon dry yeast (quick-rise works great)
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 14-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 lb. mozzarella (preferably high-moisture Italian) cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
Combine the flour, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a food processor. (See below for hand directions.) Turn on the machine, then pour the water and oil through the feeding tube. In about one or two minutes, the dough should clump together into one thick mass. Take it out, pat it into a ball, and place in an oiled bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let rise three to four hours.
(To make the dough by hand: Combine half the flour with salt and yeast and stir to blend. Add the water (increase the quantity by 1/4 cup) and oil and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add remaining flour a bit at a time. When mixture becomes too stiff to stir, begin kneading, adding as little flour as possible — just enough to keep the dough from becoming a sticky mess. Knead until smooth but still moist, about 10 minutes.)
Drain the tomatoes and discard the juice. Puree the tomatoes in the food processor along with 1/4 teaspoon of sugar and 1/8 teaspoon of salt. Set aside in the refrigerator.
When the dough has basically doubled in size, remove it from the bowl and place it on a lightly floured surface. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet (ours is 11x17") with about one tablespoon of olive oil. Roll the dough (with a rolling pin or a wine bottle) into the shape of your baking pan. Lift the dough onto your pan and press gently to fill the pan.
Spoon the tomato puree onto the dough, smooth it out, and drizzle with olive oil. Distribute mozzarella cubes evenly, then sprinkle with oregano.
Bake at 500 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes, until the bottom crust is lightly browned and very firm when lifted with a fork. The melted cheese might also be browned. Remove and cut into squares. Serve, taste, and give yourself a high-five!
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