Friday, January 2, 2009

Homemade Margherita Pizza

After having the best margherita pizza of my life at Uncle Tony's, I decided to try my own (knowing that I'd fall far short of their masterpiece).

I used the basic no-knead bread recipe, adding a little sugar and some olive oil, per Chef John's recommendations.

Let me tell you something - this dough is a pain in the ass for making pizza. It's so sticky, and barely wants to hold itself together, that there's no way you'll ever be able to toss this. I could barely roll it over the backs of my hands to stretch it without ripping it.

After fighting to get it stretched to my semi-satisfaction, I spread the dough with some garlic-olive-oil, just a couple of cloves of minced garlic barely warmed for about 5 minutes in oil, to infuse the oil with garlicky goodness. Then I laid on the sliced tomatoes (seeded and dried on paper towels) and sliced fresh mozzarella. I baked this at 450 until the crust started browning (which took a lot longer than I thought it would), then sprinkled with basil, and gave it a good dusting of salt and pepper.

The first try was ok, but not great. The fresh mozz practically disappeared because it baked for so long, the tomatoes started getting a little dried out, and the dough was more bready than pizza-y.

For the 2nd pizza, I prebaked the crust alone for about 5 minutes, then topped with tomatoes and mozz, and baked until golden. When it came out of the oven, I sprinkled it with basil, and brushed the whole thing with the same garlic-olive-oil mix as in the first pizza. Then, salt and pepper.

The 2nd one was better, because the tomatoes and cheese weren't baked as long, and the garlic didn't get bitter from being baked. But the cheese still mostly disappeared. And with both versions, I wasn't happy with the crust - this dough is wonderful, but better for a loaf of bread than for a pizza, in my opinion.

I'll definitely be trying my own pizza again, next time with a different dough recipe, and baking the crust almost all the way before adding the tomatoes and cheese - I love the barely warmed pieces of mozzarella on a well-made margherita.

In the meantime, I'll just head down to Uncle Tony's for my fix.


Betts said...

Here's my dough recipe...
It's easy to handle and works well for thick or thin crust. I think baking it nearly all the way will work well for a sauce-less pizza. Too bad we can't get together and practice. I'd bring the beer.

Bob said...

Heh, well it sure looks good. :)

I've had a lot of luck with this recipe:

I've used it for all kinds of pizza, calzones, even foccacia and had it turn out great.

Vicki said...

Hi Betts & Bob - Thanks for the links, I'll try both!