Margherita Pizza

Pizza Margherita

Any Soph n’ Stuff reader worth their sea salt will nod in amusement at my obsession with pizza. Pizza of any kind.

Pork chop pizza and margherita pizza

The best, however, is home-made pizza. Having said that, however, I admit that I have not been to Naples, so my definition of “best” can be limited to my own experience. I am sure that one day, when I go to Naples, I will spontaneously combust upon my first bite of Neopolitan pizza and I will die a happy girl.

Measurements for the dough

I have a thin crust pizza dough recipe that is permanently affixed to my fridge for quick reference, although I have committed it to memory. And after many many practice sessions, I have the art of home-made pizza dough making down to a science. I admit, I do use my stand-up mixer’s dough attachment to do all the heavy kneading work. First, I dump in my warm water. Then the dry active yeast. After those two have had a short while to party together and get all frothy, I add a glug of olive oil, a generous pinch of salt and my all-purpose flour – all of it at once – and set the mixer on low. Usually within 5-6 minutes I have a perfect dough ball hanging of the hook. If not, I add a bit more flour and wait for the dough to magically form. I love love love my mixer.

Pizza dough ready to roll

I extract the dough ball and smack it down onto my floured surface and give it a few meager kneads. It won’t “need” much “kneading”. THEN, a trick I have learned through trial and error – rather than let it rise in any traditional fashion, I simply split it into two balls, knead each once or twice then let them REST, only for about 5 minutes. This gives the gluten a chance to rest and relax before I begin stretching and torturing it into a thin pizza crust. I brush two pizza pans with olive oil, then sprinkle cornmeal on them, then roll out each dough ball.

Vintage rolling pin

The dough will resist a little at first. The little yeasties have not yet had a chance to multiply and fluff up, and the gluten strands will strain against the rolling pin. But it won’t take long before the dough is shaped into the appropriate pizza shape and can be placed on the pans. My preference is to bake the crusts on their own for 10 minutes in a 400 F oven before topping them.

Pre-baked pizza crusts

There you have it. Home made thin crust pizza crust in under 20 minutes. Dominoes can’t even deliver that fast.

I like to make my Margherita sauce one of either two ways. Sometimes, when I’m flouncing around the kitchen, feeling fabulously smug about making everything from scratch, I will make a simple tomato sauce from strained tomatoes, crushed garlic, diced shallots and fresh oregano from my garden. When I’m out of those fresh ingredients, or just feeling lazy, I just simmer the strained tomatoes in a pan with some pesto, weeping softly to myself about my own hypocrisy, stirring my pot of lies and betrayals. But the flavour, either way, is pretty nummy. The basil – the basil must be fresh on a Margherita pizza. That rule must always hold fast, no matter how lazy I’m feeling. If it’s from my garden, great. If it’s from the farmer’s market, good. If it’s from the grocery store and grown in a greenhouse under UV lights – well…not ideal but desperate times call for desperate measures. And those desperate times are upon us in the dead of winter when we are faced with an unignorable craving for fresh Margherita pizza.

Pizza into the oven

Fresh bocconcini cheese is the way to go with the Margherita. It will give you that ooey-gooey stringy effect when you lift it from the pan, which is really one of the great joys in life. Pizza strings.

Margherita Pizza

Margherita Pizza

In case you’re wondering, that other pizza I made on this particular occasion was a pork-chop pizza, which is commonly requested by Cheesler, a great lover of the pork and apple combination.

Pizza time

So click here for the dough recipe, and start some experimenting with toppings! You can never go wrong with pizza. Unless you choose something like…diapers…as toppings. That would be wrong. Don’t ever do that.

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2 Comments on “Margherita Pizza”

  1. sandra chrysler
    January 4, 2013 at 9:02 am #

    So glad you are back on your blog. You are such a good writer and always make me laugh.
    I’ve been wanting to make my own pizzas .Don’t have a mixer [actually I have a beautiful chrome 50s model and should dig it out] but kneading for 10 mins isn’t a big deal for a 23 year massage veteran.
    I’d do it today but used up all my flour yesterday on a lemon pound cake which turned into a tasty rock when I forgot it in the oven because of doing Gangnam dance with Winter and Phoenix in the living room.
    Have you tried pasta yet? Just wondered if it worked as well as it looked.

    • January 4, 2013 at 9:06 am #

      I have not tried pasta yet but I plan to this weekend! I will definitely post the results 🙂

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