Pizza night is a family favorite, a dinner always in the rotation and never exactly the same way twice. What tops our pizzas is an ongoing experiment as I use pizza night as a way to clear out the fridge while adjusting the recipe for the best crust. Our pizzas can be seasonal – roasted asparagus is only served during the spring – but also feature things I’ve preserved either in jars or in the freezer.
Recent successes include pepper pesto pie with pickled peppers, peach salsa with cheddar and pepper jack (think fruity-Mexican inspired pizza with peach salsa rather than tomato salsa) and a squash butter with swiss cheese pie. The squash butter was a complete surprise hit – no one other than me seems wowed by it when I offer it on a nibbles tray, but as the sauce on a pizza it gets raves.
I make a double batch of dough, then quarter it to make four thin crust pizzas. I brown the dough, baking it about 10 minutes before adding toppings and sliding the pies back into the oven. Pizza seems to be a universal favorite – I can manage to come up with ones that even the pickiest eaters will love, so it’s often a go-to when we have friends over. My oven only holds two pizzas at a time, so pizza night is super casual and one of those meals that slowly rolls out. The pizzas I know are more adult friendly than kid friendly (like pickled eggplant with feta and black olives) I save for the later ones, while a standard tomato sauce with cheese never fails to be the first in and out of the oven.
I’ve recently tweaked my long standing dough recipe and I’ve been quite pleased with how it’s worked out. I love to play around with flour types, particularly whole grains and my latest version of my pizza dough reflects that. Now that the weather isn’t as humid, I’m noticing I may need to bump up the amount of water, but the amount I’m currently adding seems to be just right.
3 cups bread flour or other high protein flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry or spelt flour
1 teaspoon or so salt
1 teaspoon or so sugar
4 teaspoons yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
Combine ingredients in order and knead until dough ball is smooth (about 5 minutes), adding flour and water as needed. Lightly coat dough ball with oil and place in greased bowl. Cover – plastic wrap or a clean dish towel can be used – and let rise for at least an hour. Punch the dough down and either use immediately or let the dough have a second rise – it’s good either way.
Cut dough into desired portions and let rest for 5 minutes. Roll or press out on a cornmeal covered surface – this gives a much better finished result than flour – bake in a 450-500 oven for 8-10 minutes or until dough is starting to brown. Remove from oven, top with desired toppings and return to oven for another 5-8 minutes or until cheese at desired level of melted and browned.
Let cool for a minute, then slice and serve.
Makes 4 thin crust or 2 thicker crust pizzas.