Lately all I’ve been craving is donuts. Funny that the pictures above and below these words are of pizza. Not quite fried, sugar glazed, dough, but as my mom likes to tell me “You can’t always get what you want.” Or was that The Rolling Stones?
Krispy Kreme won’t do. Neither will any other chain of yeast cakes. I’m looking for a small, hometown-type, owned-by-that family-down-the-street spot. A real nook of a shop where old men go in the six o’clock a.m. hour for a cup o’ joe and an old fashioned dough round.
Maybe it’s this current dough fascination that led me to bake pizza recently. Not something I typically do. I much prefer to go out for pizza- to leave the pie making to the masters and the brick ovens. Let the chef mound mozzarella on my olive oil drizzled crust without looking, or thinking twice about what my arteries are saying as they meet sausage, pepperoni, and ricotta. All good things I imagine.
Inevitably, though, I’ll find myself at the market faced with fresh handmade mozzarella and basil. Sister isn’t going anywhere without the two. So I buy it and swear I’ll make a homemade pie. Only the leaves wilt and the mozzarella…well that gets eaten. But not on pizza.
But this past weekend, when I saw what seemed to be the perfect little package of whole wheat pizza dough at my local market, I knew it was time to crank up the heat of my oven to ungodly temperatures. I divided the pound of sticky dough into four balls, stretched them out into small circles and made individual pies. Two classic margherita and two topped with peppers, onions, and mushrooms. Both featuring a simply spiced tomato sauce, slices of whole milk mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil.
Delicious. Crisp, gooey, fresh, and satisfying. But the donut craving? It’s still there. I’m envisioning a deep fryer in my future.
There’s not much of recipe to write, but here is the procedure I use to make individual pizza pies:
Stretch out your dough into small rounds on a lightly floured surface. I like to use a large cookie sheet to do this part because the lips of the pan keep the flour contained- less mess. I made four circles from a 1 pound ball of whole wheat dough. All in the name of portion control.
Preheat your oven to 450°. If you don’t have a pizza stone, place a wire cooling rack on top of a roasting pan (I lined it with foil and poked holes through the foil for ventilation). This will allow your pizza to crisp on all sides.
Pull your par-baked dough out of the oven and spread with tomato sauce (canned crushed tomatoes or jarred sauce is fine), followed by a generous sprinkling of dried oregano and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Now pile on your toppings. I used sliced peppers, onions, and mushrooms on two of the pizzettas. Top with cheese- I used a ball of fresh whole milk mozzarella that I sliced into thin disks.
Bake two of the pizzas simultaneously (side by side) for about 10-12 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is melted. Do not bake pizzas on both the top and bottom oven racks. They will not crisp as well.
Remove your pizzas from the oven and garnish with fresh basil. I also like to brush my crust lightly with a touch of olive oil and then sprinkle it with garlic powder and salt for flavor.