Growing up, Friday nights were almost always pizza night at our house. Living in Philadelphia, we had some awesome pizza places nearby! I would always love to be the one picked to go with my dad to pick up the pizza. It meant time out of the house, and time with just my dad—being one of five didn’t always allow for a lot of one on one time with my parents. It also meant that I could snack on the weird baguette bun that they always included—why do you serve a bun with pizza? That never made sense!
Anyway—I wanted to make pizza for our Friday night dinner a few weeks ago, and decided to try a new recipe for Tomato Galettes—aka fancy pizza. I should have known as I was making a pie-crust style dough with 2 sticks of shortening that this was not the right recipe for me. I pushed on, but knew from the beginning that this was not going back on the rotation. However, I did get a few good things from the recipe. One, I LOVED the recipe for the pine nut spread that went on top—delicious! Garlic, lemon, and pine nuts pureed until they made a creamy sauce—great substitute for cheese. Two, I liked the presentation of a galette, with the edges of the dough folded over to form a rustic crust.
So I made these again last Friday, and this time used my tried and true pizza dough recipe. Irving and I took a bread making class when we were dating and one of the recipes we got was one for focaccia bread, with an option to roll it out for pizza crust. We have been making it several times a month since then—so for 6 years or so! Definitely a staple in our house.
I used my handheld mandolin (get one!— OXO Good Grips Hand-Held Mandoline Slicer) to make super thin slices of veggies for a quick cooking, pretty looking pizza. I made one for David with sweet potatoes and pears, mine had tomatoes and zucchini, and Irving’s had tomatoes and eggplant. What are your favorite toppings?
Basic Pizza Dough
1 packet of yeast (2 ¼ tsp), can be rapid rise or regular, I’ve used both and don’t see a difference in this recipe
2-4 c flour (I use a 1-2 ratio of whole wheat to white flour), depending on altitude, humidity, etc.
1 tsp salt
1 T olive oil
2 T sugar
1 ¼ c hot water
***this is really easy dough to make—looking at my directions now, it seems like a lot to do, but I think I’ve just been REALLY thorough on my how-to!
Place yeast in bowl of mixer. Pour hot water on top (hot from tap) and allow yeast to proof for 10 minutes. It will get a little bubbly, and the yeast will soften so that you no longer see many granules. Add olive oil, salt and sugar and give it a quick spin. Begin adding flour, ½ cup at a time while the mixer is running.
After about 2 cups of flour I switch to my bread hook. (If you don’t have one, let it go as long as you can in the mixer and then turn it out onto a floured surface and knead by hand.) Continue adding flour gradually until the dough begins to form into a ball. Let it continue kneading for about 5 minutes. Often times, after a few minutes of kneading, the dough that previously appeared sticky becomes nice and smooth, so take it easy with the flour. You can always add more, but you can’t remove it. I usually like to be able to push my finger into the dough and leave an impression (if the impression goes away immediately it’s probably still too soft).
Remove the bowl from the mixer. Drizzle olive oil on top of ball of dough and flip dough around to coat all sides with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put your bowl in a warm place for 1+ hour (it’s great to give it several hours though). I like to put mine in a slightly warmed oven. I turn on the oven (set to about 150 degrees) while I’m making the dough and then turn it off when I put the dough in.
Once the dough has risen, punch it down and turn it out onto a floured surface and dust with flour and knead a few times until it is soft and not sticky, and easily workable. I divide my dough into several pieces at this point. We like to make individual pizzas so we can all have the toppings we like. I shoot for 6-10 ounces of dough per pizza to make thin crust pizzas. I can usually get 4-6 pizza crusts out of a batch, and we tend to make bigger pizzas than one person should really eat!
As fun as it is to see professionals tossing pizza dough in to the air, the easiest way for me to make a crust is with my rolling pin. Add flour on surfaces to make sure you’re not sticking and begin to roll each ball into a round, picking it up and flipping it around so it’s not sticking to your counter. Transfer to a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Back when I had a real oven I would bake my pizzas on parchment paper on a pizza stone. But I now have an easy bake oven, which doesn’t fit my pizza stone, so I bake mine on a baking sheet with parchment and it works pretty well. We also like to grill ours on a baking stone in the grill in the summer! Preheat your oven to 450.
Once your dough is rolled out, drizzle with a tiny bit of olive oil. Now you can choose whether you want to put your pine nut spread on the crust, or on top of the toppings. I did mine on top last weekend and will try under next time. Then layer your toppings on, and out to about a half-inch away from the edge. Fold your edges over, pleating as you go to make the crust. Drizzle the crust with a bit more olive oil and then place your pan in the oven. It takes about 10 minutes to cook, maybe less. Watch your pizza and make sure the bottom crust isn’t getting too brown. When fully cooked, remove from oven and add a dollop of pine nut spread. Let cool a minute to set and then slice. Time to dig in!
Pine Nut Spread
½ pine nuts
juice of 1 lemon (about 2-3 T)
2 T olive oil
2 cloves raw garlic (or roast a head of garlic if you have time and use the whole roasted head)
salt and pepper to taste
Place pine nuts in small saucepan and fill with water. Bring to boil and boil for 10 minutes. Drain and add to food processor with all other ingredients. Puree, stopping frequently to scrape down sides, until very smooth. Use to top pizzas, dip pita and veggies, or just eat off of a spoon! Yum!