Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Pizza Margherita

PIzza Margherita

Now that my basil is finally growing well, it's time to start putting it to good use. Pizza Margherita is a prime showcase for fresh basil. A few leaves scattered on top wilt a bit from the pizza's heat but retain their fresh green flavor.

I won't be coy about this pizza. It was really good. And really pretty easy to make compared with other pizza. The ingredients require little prep and the dough, which I adapted from a Cook's Illustrated recipe, was pretty easy too.

Pizza Margherita
Adapted in part from a recipe by Cook's Illustrated, More Best Recipes

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 tsp. instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 cup warm water (110 degrees F)

2 tsp. olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
14 oz. crushed tomatoes
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 tsp. cornmeal
10 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick
16-20 fresh basil leaves, larger leaves torn

1. Make the dough: Add flour sugar, salt and yeast to the bowl of a food processor and pulse about 5 times until combined. With the machine turned on, slowly stream the water through the feed tube. As the water is added, the dough should come together into a ball after about a minute or two. If, after the first minute, the dough seems too sticky and clings to the blade, add 1 or 2 more tablespoons of flour or, if it's too crumbly and doesn't come together, add 1 or 2 more tablespoons of water. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and form into a ball. Transfer the dough ball to a large lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 1 hour.

2. Make the sauce: Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until it starts to bubble, reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.

Make the pizza:

3. Preheat oven to 500 F with two oven racks evenly spaced. Cut two pieces of parchment to fit two small baking sheets; sprinkle each with a teaspoon of cornmeal. Divide the risen dough ball into two pieces. Place first dough ball on a lightly floured surface and shape into a thick disc. Then, using your hands, shape the disc into a thin round about 12-inches across (the round should be thicker around the edges and very thin in the middle--be careful not to tear it; pinch the dough together if it does tear). Place the shaped dough round on a prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the other half of the dough.

4. Place about 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce on one dough round and smooth the sauce across the dough using a spatula, leaving the outer 1/2-inch of dough uncovered. Place half of the sliced fresh mozzarella on top of the sauce in a single, evenly spaced layer. Repeat with the other dough round.

5. Bake pizzas in the oven until the edges are browned and the cheese begins to bubble, about 15 to 20 minutes (note: if using a pizza stone, cooking time may be less). If the pizza looks "soupy" in the middle, bake a little longer to dry it out. Remove pizzas from oven and immediately scatter half the fresh basil on top of each pizza (the heat from the pizza will wilt the basil a bit). Allow to cool a bit then serve.

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