Things I want Taylor Swift to fix, now that she singlehandedly bossed Apple Music like a fierce blonde dragon:
-House of Cards Season 4. I want it now, and I want it to be good. Maybe Claire runs for president, maybe Doug tries to kill her, maybe the weird hacker guy gets a fun new pet. Everyone definitely continues to dress superbly.
-The drought. I miss guilt-free almonds and avocados.
-The ages-old packaging problem of eight hot dog buns and ten hot dogs. This doesn’t usually affect me personally, but this is America. We’ve gone to the moon. We can do this!
-My homemade pizza crust game. It has always come out too dry, too fragile — not the elastic, smooth dream I always knew it can be.
But wait! We can scratch that last one. Everything else… That’s all you, Tay.
After trying out many promising, swear-by-it recipes from all corners of the internet, I think I’ve found something special. This method comes from a recent NYT recipe, from Suzanne Lenzer’s new book Truly, Madly Pizza. (That title alone makes my wallet grow tiny little cartoon legs and lurch toward the nearest keyboard with an internet connection. Take my money Suzanne, take it now.)
The big ideas in this recipe are: (1) using a food processor to “knead” the dough, then (2) freezing it until the morning you want to make pizza. Just thaw the dough in the fridge, and come dinner time, you are ready to rock. I suspect you could also thaw it quickly in a well-sealed Ziploc bag in lukewarm water, if you’re like me and forget to defrost everything ever.
After that, it’s just a little resting, a little stretching, and you’re done.
The last Big Idea in Pizza, as far as I know, was Jim Lahey’s no-knead method. While I love that technique for bread, I didn’t have much success with the pizza dough — it always came out too dry, and I gave up after a couple of attempts to tweak it. To be fair, I had the same problem with this food-processor method too. My dough was too dry, and not nearly elastic enough. But, only one version later, I had a recipe that works perfectly for me, and that’s success.
Of course, this is not to say that there’s anything awry with those recipes exactly as they’re written by the pros. The problem could very well be me. As far as your pizza goes, the best advice I can give is to use your instincts. Use the original recipes, or mine, as a starting point, adjust if you need to, and try again; these particular proportions are just what worked at Chez Moi.
There are many variables in play when you’re trying to make magic from water, flour, and yeast. Who’s to blame: The recipe’s author? You, the cook? Temperature, altitude, or humidity? Obama? I don’t know, and as long as I get something edible in the end (always the case), I don’t really care.
All that said, the dough, great as it is, is not the star player here. Between the juicy, peak-season nectarines, salty prosciutto, and funky gorgonzola, you already have a neat thing going. But then, a whiff of mint breezes in to blow.all.of.our.minds. I have this French apple and cheese tart to thank for introducing me to mint in cheesy, savory dishes like this. I haven’t been the same since.
Also, when I made my first attempt at this recipe, I finished the pizza with a drizzle of honey. Outrageously unnecessary, but also outrageously good. I forgot it this time around, but you don’t have to. Don’t be like me, etc.
Come to think of it, the honey drizzle was inspired by yet another French tart, a gorgeous, simple summer tomato dish. Sometimes I wonder if I’d ever make these connections — from one recipe or ingredient combo to another, from one cuisine to another — if I didn’t have a blog. If I just made food, ate it, shared it, and didn’t sit down to write about it a few days later.
This is why sometimes, I think everyone should have a blog, or a notebook, or just a shoebox full of scribbled notes on the back of Target receipts. If you care about something — anything — writing about it can help you understand it much more thoroughly. Or, if you’re T-Swift, you can use your tumblr account to change the business plan of a tech giant.
So here’s to writing, and to pizza! We’ll get to the hot dog problem after lunch. xo
- 1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons bread flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2/3 cup warm water
- 2 or 3 tablespoons cornmeal or extra flour, for sprinkling dough
- 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
- 1/2 cup crumbled gorgonzola
- 2-3 slices prosciutto (you could easily omit this if vegetarian), torn into pieces
- 1/2 a ripe nectarine, sliced thinly
- 5-6 mint leaves, coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons honey, for drizzling (optional, but nice)
- Put the flour, salt, and yeast in a food processor and pulse to combine. Then, with the processor running, slowly pour in the oil, followed by the water. Continue running the processor for 2-3 minutes — the dough should form a ball and be smooth and elastic. Add a little more water or flour, as necessary.
- Lay out a piece of plastic wrap on the counter and shape the dough into a rectangle about 4 x 6 inches in size. Use your fingertips to make small indentations in the dough so it's dimpled, as if you were making focaccia. Fold one third of the dough over, then make the indentations on top. Fold the other third over (as if you would fold a letter into thirds) and repeat with the indentations once again. Cover the dough with plastic and let it rise for 20-30 minutes.
- Form the dough into a ball, wrap it tightly in plastic, and place in the freezer. The morning you want to make pizza, place the dough into the fridge to thaw.
- When you're ready to make pizza, preheat your oven (with a pizza stone in it, if you have one) to the hottest temperature you can get it (usually 500 Fahrenheit or so).
- Remove the dough from the fridge and let it rest for 20 minutes or so, until it's room temperature. Dust a pizza peel or pizza pan with cornmeal or extra flour.
- Then, use your hands to gently stretch the dough into a circle. Drape it over your fist at the center, then gently stretch as you rotate (the edges will be thicker). Let the dough rest for a little longer, covered in plastic wrap, if it springs back too readily.
- Lay the dough onto the peel or pan and top with about half of the mozzarella. Follow with prosciutto pieces and nectarine slices. Top with rest of the mozzarella, the gorgonzola, and mint.
- Use the peel to transfer the pizza onto your preheated stone, or place the pizza pan, if that's what you're using, into the preheated oven. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and browned. Finish with a drizzle of honey and serve immediately.