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Nov 11, 2008 04:03 PM

Pizza = Crack

Part of me thinks that I shouldn't even post about this, since I made my first pizzas last weekend, using the Alice Waters' recipe for the dough. They weren't great - which may well be because I didn't let the dough sit over night in the refrigerator. Since then, I've gotten a lot of great tips and dough recipes, but, so far, I've only tried using the master recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Well, having just finished a second pizza made that way - the first was on Sunday - it's all I can do to restrain myself from thinking about making another one for dinner tomorrow night, since my husband will still be travelling.

Here's what I've done:

1. Tear off 1/2 pound of the dough, quickly form into a ball, forming gluten coat. Cover with a towel and let rest for one and a half hours. Thinly slice fresh mozzarella, and place between layers of paper towels to dry.

2. One hour before baking, place pizza stone at bottom of oven and preheat to 550.

3 Put piece of parchment paper on peel. Flour hands, and stretch dough into round pizza shape. Place on parchment paper.

4. Brush with wonderful high quality extra virgin olive oil up to 1/2 inch of the edge of the dough. Add thinly sliced red onions, slices of mozzarella, slices of plum tomatoes (remove the seeds if you like). Slide off peel into oven onto pizza stone. Set timer for 8 minutes.

5. Remove basil, parmesan and prosciutto from fridge. Julienne basil.

6. Check pizza after 8 minutes - leave in another two if needed.

7. Remove pizza from oven. Grate on plenty of parmesan, sprinkle with basil, add slices of prosciutto, grate on a little more parmesan, sprinkle on a little more basil, drizzle on a little more fantastic olive oil.

8. Let rest 5 minutes, slice, and enjoy.

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  1. P.S. Um, I meant to mention, I've never tried crack - just an analogy!

    1. MMR: Your zzas look awesome! (or are those the pix from the cookbook? JK) I've enjoyed making pizza dough for a couple years now. Mark Bittman has a simple (of course) recipe that's quite good.and ATK has a killer recipe for deep-dish style, pepperoni pizza. I've never gotten the hang of using my pizza peel: even though I liberally dust w/ cornmeal or semolina, things just seem to stick. I'll have to try parchment... Same sad story w/ my pizza stone; used it once and I'm still trying to scrape the goo off of the motherf****r. I usually stretch and shape the dough right on a cookie sheet and have had good results. Will have to check out the Artisan Bread Book. Thanx for the post. Adam

      5 Replies
      1. re: adamshoe

        I was using cornmeal at first, and had no problems with sticking, but my oven smoked up terribly - both when making the pizza and later - and the parchment paper seems to work very nicely.

        1. re: adamshoe

          Since I got a pizza peel, I've never had any problems with sticking, I just use good old fashioned flour and it slides right off. Of course, I'm still scarrred from the time before I got a peel and the pizza stuck horribly to a non-stick cookie sheet. So after I stretch the dough on the peel, I keep checking it every few seconds to make sure it still is loose. I also fly through the topping part as well as an extra precaution. After I'm done stretching, I usually have the dough topped and on the stone in maybe 20-30 seconds. A drizzle of oil, some light sauce, cheese and sea salt and into the oven.

          1. re: ESNY

            Here are some pictures of my pizzas. The first one was my first attempt ever and I definitely pulled it out too soon. I also started using olive oil on the crust before sliding onto the stone so it gets nice and dark. THe last pie was fresh mozzarella and heirloom tomatoes and was my best pie yet.

            1. re: ESNY

              Just wanted to add my latest creation. Made during halftime of the Giants opening a can of whoop ass on the Redskins (dough made 2 days earlier, pizza put onto the stone at halftime).

              This one is fresh salted mozzeralla and a light dab of fra diavolo sauce. I intended to use oven roasted cherry tomatoes but they didn't have any that looked good at the local store and I was too lazy to cross 2nd ave to go to the supermarket (damn rain) so I used a sauce I had in house.

              525 degree oven, preheated for about an hour or so and cooked for about 6-7 minutes.

              Pic 1 is the whole pizza and pic 2 is the upskirt shot as patented by

              1. re: ESNY


                You m ind sharing your dough recipe? I can never get NY style dough that I like to come out. It always comes out bready.

        2. Absolutely gorgeous pies, MMR. I'm always a bit nervous about putting parchment into such a hot oven, so it's great to know it's not a problem. Also, I usually use commercial dough, so you've inspired me to put the extra effort into homemade dough.

          After you've had your fill, if you can tear yourself away from your combo, try sauteing a generous amount of garlic in the oil before you brush the dough. That may be a bit overpowering for the fresh mozzarella adn prosciutto, though. Another great topping is Italian's an amazing melting cheese.

          Happy pie-making!

          1. For my taste, I would cook the pizza longer to develop the crust more, and to do this, I would totally avoid using paper towel on the mozzarella. The water content retards the browning and burning of the cheese, allowing for the crust to get a lovely, deep tone. Better yet is to do the pizza on the grill, which takes a modified method of browning one side of the dough, flipping the dough, topping the browned side and finishing on the grill.

            7 Replies
            1. re: Iota

              I'd love to try making pizza on a grill, but live in an NYC apartment, so can't. Re: the mozzarella - the reason I was doing that was that I'd read a number of threads here that if you don't dry the mozzarella out, it makes the crust soggy. Is that not your experience? Thanks for the tips!

              1. re: MMRuth

                Hey, MMR, what about all those movies and TV shows showing fabulous rooftops with trees, tables and grills.

                I also saw Mark Bittman grilling on the roof of his Brooklyn building. So! No more excuses. Get up there and start planting and arranging.

                It's winter, you say? All the more reason to build an enclosure for that grill.

                PS: I'd help, but you know I have a bad back. ;+)

                1. re: oakjoan

                  Joan, there are strict laws about grilling in New York City. I've heard that some people break the law but I wouldn't risk it. The management of your building could just confiscate your grill. Few of us have roofs big enough that grilling would be legal. Even Bobby Flay doesn't actually live in that building where he grills with a fabulous view of the Manhattan skyline. It's a set. My building does have tables and chairs for eating on the roof but grilling is definitely not allowed. It's way too cold now anyway.

                  1. re: NYCkaren

                    Yep - my neighbor breaks the law, and even has a built in exhaust for his grill. But it's not for me!

                    1. re: NYCkaren

                      Same here. Lovely, beautifully landscaped roof garden with benches and cocktail-height tables with stools. No grilling allowed. Any chance we live in the same building?

                      1. re: JoanN

                        I don't think so. I live in Battery Park City. I did entertain on the roof over the summer. It involved a lot of schlepping food on the elevator.

                2. re: Iota

                  I love pizza on the grill and make it often, but I would never stop making pizza on my stone. To me, they are two different animals, both with merit.

                  Grilled is a bit lighter, smokier and a delicate balance of dough and toppings. Stone-cooked is a bit more substantial and delicious in it's own right, with toppings playing a more central role.

                3. Welcome to the homemade pizza addict club, MMR! It didn't take you long to come over to this side... :-)

                  This reminds me that I should make some dough tonight to make pizza tomorrow night for dinner. I'm going to try your parchment paper trick instead of my usual foil to see if there's any difference in crispness of the crust. I find that good olive oil smeared on to the crust liberally before any sauce or toppings go on is key. I also love how pizza can get rid of all the little odds and ends hiding in my fridge. I gotta try one w/ cooked butternut squash, sage, red onions, and maybe a little spicy sausage. Hmmmm...