What is there about pizza that is so wonderful? It’s so simple to make, but yet so difficult to get right. How many bad pizzas have you endured? I was so spoiled living in the North End of Boston. I could have all sorts of fantastic pizzas at a moment’s notice. Now I’m mired in the Land of Bad Pizza. The much loved local favorite is a sickeningly sweet bastardization. Abysmal. Inexcusable. Just plain wrong.
We grew up making all kinds of bread. My mother kept my brother, sister, and me entertained with small balls of bread. Beating them into submission was a favorite past time. I think I’ve had my hand in it ever since.
I hadn’t found a good pizza dough recipe until my cousin Janet have me a copy of an April 1992 article from the New York Times called “Food, The Primal Pizza”. This is the dough I’ve used ever since. It’s fool proof and freezes easily so you can have pizza pretty much any time you like!
1 c warm water
1 c warm water
1 tbs yeast
¾ c whole wheat flour
2 ¼ c all purpose flour (more or less)
1 tea Kosher or sea salt
½ c plain yogurt
Olive oil for the bowl and to flavor crust
Cornmeal for the baking stone
2 c marinara sauce, preferably homemade
1 lb mozzarella, shredded
Misc toppings of your choice
Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and mix. Let sit for 10 minutes to activate. Mix in the yogurt, salt, whole wheat flour and enough of the all purpose flour to create a nice ball of dough. This will be anywhere from 1 ½ c all purpose flour to the entire amount. Much will depend on the brand of flour and the ambient humidity of your kitchen. Knead for several minutes. Lightly oil a medium sized bowl, drop in the dough swirl around to coat the dough ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for an hour. Punch down and proceed with the recipe or divide in half, place into lightly oiled plastic containers and freeze for future use.
Place a pizza stone on a rack in your oven. Preheat your oven to the highest temperature available.
Cut the dough into 4 even pieces. Work with one piece at a time, covering the remaining pieces with a towel. Lightly flour your work surface and roll out a ball of dough into a rustic circle approx 15” in diameter. Sprinkle a piece of parchment or nonstick tin foil with a light layer of cornmeal and place onto a pizza peel. Slide the rolled out dough onto the parchment or foil Lightly brush the pizza with olive oil or use a sprayer such as Misto. Evenly spread about ½ c of marinara sauce over the dough avoiding about a ½” at the edge. Cover with a healthy handful or two of the shredded mozzarella. Garnish with your favorite toppings. Slide the parchment or foil onto the pizza stone using the peel. It’s a little scary the first time, but you get used to it. Cook until nicely browned about 10 minutes. Slide the peel under the parchment or foil and remove the pizza. Wait a couple of minutes before cutting and serving. Proceed with the remaining dough. Makes 4 pizzas.
If you want to make calzones use the same dough recipe but divide the dough into half. Fill with your favorite goodies down the center of the dough circle leaving an inch edge. Fold the dough up over the long ends of the filling, and then fold over one side of the dough over the filling. Gently force out any air. Continue to fold over, place the seam on the underneath side. Cook the same way as the pizza leaving in the oven for about 15 minutes. Makes 2 calzones.
If you are using frozen dough, take out of the freezer 2 or 3 hours ahead of time and leave on the counter to thaw. Or take it out the freezer in the morning, place in the fridge. It should be ready to use at supper time.