Weekday perfect, you can make the dough ahead of time or pick up fresh-made dough from your local deli. Have your hungry crew top their own pie with their favorite flavors.
Late summer shows off Mother Nature’s best work of art. Leaves become restless in anticipation of the fall dance, gourd foliage is in full bloom and ripe, plump tomatoes are heavy on the vine.
I love to pick tomatoes at the end of the day, when they’re still warm from the sun. ~Alain Ducasse
Pizza is a $30 billion dollar per year industry with approximately 61,269 pizzerias across the United States. Americans eat about 3 billion pizzas annually and the flavor combinations are endless.
Deep dish, thin or hand tossed, pizza can be customized to suit any flavor. For this post today, we chose a simple ‘Margherita’ style with a variety of late-summer colors. It’s not necessary to follow exact directions, experiment a bit with toppings, tweak and twist a recipe until it’s your own.
If time is an issue, make your pizza dough one day ahead of time. Cover well with plastic wrap and chill so dough does not dry out or you can freeze the dough in well-wrapped 1/2 pound dough-balls for 1-2 weeks.
Time Saver! Visit the deli counter at your local grocer and ask for pre-made pizza dough.
Note: As always we highly recommend you use a pizza stone. An hour before you toss your pizza in the oven, place your stone on the oven rack in the lower third of your electric oven. If you’re using gas, on the floor of your gas oven, and preheat to 500°F.
For the dough
- 1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoon)
- 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, divided, plus a bit more for dusting
- 3/4 cup warm water, divided
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- Stir together yeast, 1 tablespoon flour, and 1/4 cup warm water in a large bowl. Let stand until surface appears creamy, about 5 minutes. If it doesn’t look creamy, toss and begin again.
- Add 1 1/4 cups flour, remaining 1/2 cup water, salt, and oil and stir until smooth. Stir in enough flour (1/4 to 1/3 cup) for dough to begin to pull away from side of bowl. Dough will be a bit wet.
- Knead on a floured surface, lightly re-flour when dough becomes too sticky. Knead until smooth, soft, and elastic, about 8 minutes. Form into a ball, put in a bowl, and dust with flour. Cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let rise at warm room temperature until doubled, about 1 1/4 hours.
- 1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 to 3 ounces mozzarella cheese, your choice
- 4 to 5 basil leaves, torn
- 1 clove garlic, sliced
- 2 medium tomatoes, your favorite summer colors and flavors
- A small bit of salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Optional Toppings: Sprinkle Feta or goat cheese across top after baking
Shape the dough.
- Do not punch down. Pat out evenly with fingers and stretch into a 14″ round.
- Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil in center of dough and brush outwards toward edges, leaving 1″ dry on the edges.
- Place garlic evenly across dough. Slice mozzarella cheese into equal sizes and place evenly across the dough, do the same with tomatoes.
- Slide pizza onto pizza stone, bake until dough is crisp and browned about 9-12 minutes.
- Transfer to cutting board with pizza peel and cool 5 minutes. Sprinkle with basil before cutting.
Choose the cheeses and toppings that appeal most to you and your guests. Experiment with flavors, colors and textures. We would love to hear about your favorite flavor combinations.
Pizza facts via The Pizza Joint