Game Day Homemade Pizza

by Caterina Borg, Good Food Gourmet on January 23, 2011

I came across this great pizza dough in my Baking Illustrated Cookbook. These are the same people who print Cook’s Illustrated Magazine and produce the sister show called Cook’s Country. I am a huge fan of the show because I identify with many of the issues the staff go through in developing the recipes that are ultimately shared on the air. It is not unheard of for me to test a recipe up to 20 times before I finally get it right. This is not only frustrating, but can also be very costly. I learned early on that it is important to develop a basic understanding of how the ingredients interact and the proper way to put them together, because depending on what you are making, the procedure is not always the same.

This was one of those recipes that I had bookmarked long ago and had wanted to try, and since I had promised to make homemade pizza to 6 very hungry friends…it was pizza I had to produce and deliver myself. This particular recipe makes 2 medium sized pizzas or 4 large calzones. It is absolutely fantastic, and it is definitely a recipe I will use again. I doubled the recipe and made 4 pizzas with different toppings so that I could have something to please everyone. My favorite this evening was the mushroom and onion with thyme, rosemary, fontina, freshly grated parmesan and a few anchovies…it was incredible!

Of course, the fun about making pizza is that you can make any flavor you like and you can choose to use a homemade tomato sauce or not. This crust is crispy on the outside and pillowy soft inside. It held the toppings perfectly without anything falling off the crust. If you have a pizza stone, great…if not, don’t worry about it. My pizza stone was a little too small for the sizes we made, so I simply oiled a half sheet pan and cooked them on that. They all turned out perfectly delicious…I wonder what I shall do for an encore…

Game Day Pizza (makes 2 medium pizzas)

4 cups bread flour (22 oz)

1 packet active yeast, approx 2 ¼ teaspoons (1 used 20 grams fresh yeast)

1 teaspoon sugar **only if you are using dry yeast

1 ½ teaspoon salt

1 ¾ cups warm water

4 tablespoons olive oil

Topping (for 2 pizzas)

2 containers of mushrooms

½ teaspoon fresh thyme

S&P

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped

2 medium onions, cut in half (from stem to root), then cut thick slices from this

1 small can of anchovies

2 cups shredded fontina

2 cups finely grated parmesan

8 tablespoons olive oil

Add the yeast to the bowl of your stand mixer, then add the water and 2 tablespoons of olive oil and whisk to completely dissolve. Add the flour, salt and sugar and begin mixing the ingredients with a paddle. Once the dough has formed into a ball, switch to the dough hook and continue to mix for about 5 minutes until elastic. I ended up doing this stage by hand, because I like to feel how the dough is developing. It has been very dry and cold here lately, so I needed to add a little bit more water than the recipe called for. I simply wet my hand and continued kneading until I felt that the dough was more moist and pliable but not sticky. Grease a large stoneware bowl with the other 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the kneaded dough in the bowl and roll it around so that the entire ball is coated with a little oil. Cover this and allow to double in size about 1 ½ to 2 hours.

In the meantime, prepare your topping by grating the fontina and the parmesan cheese and setting these aside in a small bowl. Slice the onion and the mushrooms and sauté them in 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Add in the fresh thyme once they have all caramelized, taste for S&P and set this aside. Finely chop the rosemary and set aside.

Once the dough has risen, separate the ball into 2 pieces. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to your sheet pan and using your fingers, coat the pan completely. Take half of the dough, and begin stretching out the dough with your fingers being careful not to poke holes completely through the dough. Use the other 2 tablespoons of oil to completely coat the top of the dough. This will also help the dough stretch out. If you find that the dough is pulling back and does not stay stretched out, cover with a piece of plastic and allow it to rest for a few minutes. The dough should stretch out to between 14-16 inches. Once you have formed your dough, cover it and allow it to rest for another 30 minutes. Once it has rested, add the rosemary, half of the cheese mix, half of the onion and mushroom topping, a few of the anchovies and then repeat until there are no more toppings left. Preheat your oven to 500°F and bake until golden brown, approximately 8-10 minutes.

NOTE: If you do not plan to use your dough right away, it can be frozen after the first rise. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and then place this in a ziploc bag and freeze. Transfer the dough to the refrigerator on the morning of the day you plan to use it for dinner. If you plan to use it for lunch, transfer it to the refrigerator the night before. Before rolling out the dough, remove from the refrigerator and let it stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes to take the chill off.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella January 24, 2011 at 4:31 p

Ahh this is what your recipes are so good Caterina! Because you test them so much to perfect them. This looks lovely and I wish I had a game too watch!

avatar Caterina Borg, Good Food Gourmet January 24, 2011 at 7:00 p

Hello my darling Lorraine….it’s delicious anytime and the dough is also perfect for filled calzones. Hope you have a chance to try them!

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