Pizza – from Dough to Delicious

Modified from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan


1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
3 1/4 cups unbleached flour
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt


Proof the yeast by dissolving it into 1/4 of your 1 cup of warm water, about 10 minutes. Add one cup of the flour, mixing thoroughly with a wooden spoon. Stir in the extra virgin olive oil, salt and 1/4 cup of the water. Mix through. Then add another cup of flour, mixing, and add another 1/4 of the water. Add the final 1 cup of flour and the last 1/4 of water, reserving the 1/4 cup flour to add in if necessary to make the dough manageable and soft, not too sticky. Take the dough out of the bowl and slap it down very hard onto your work surface (this is fun!). Knead the dough by using your knuckles and the palms of your hands to make it flat, then pull in the corners and work them into a ball, repeating, for 10 minutes. Film the inside of a clean bowl with olive oil, put in the dough, and let rise for 3 hours, or until it has doubled in volume. Divide in half – makes two medium sized pizza doughs.

Lila’s Pizza:

Ingredients (to make 2 pizzas):

2 pizza doughs (from above)
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 cups shredded Mozzerella cheese
4 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 eggplant, peeled, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
a pinch of Crazy Jane’s mixed up salt
Flour, for sprinkling the pizza stone
Other, optional ingredients, including fresh basil, pepperoni, slices of peppers or mushrooms…

To fashion the pizza, preheat the oven and a pizza stone (we usually do two or three, rotating them out) to 450 degrees F. Have all your ingredients ready to go so you can assemble the pizza quickly. Start with a room temperature dough and flatten (using your hands; I don’t roll it out), starting from the middle, using your fingers to gently pull and stretch it to the desired size. I never worry about getting it perfectly round. Pull out the hot pizza stone, douse with flour and put the stretched dough onto it. Judiciously spread on some sauce (I usually do about 1/4 of a cup, but I don’t actually measure) spreading it to about ½ inch from the edges. Sprinkle on cheese, going past the sauce border – this helps the cheese stick onto the pizza dough, so it doesn’t slide around when you are eating it. Add your veggies. We most frequently do eggplant (peeled and cut into ¼ inch-thick rounds) and raw onion. It is a challenge not to over-topping a pizza b/c you want to make it scrumptious, but being conservative with toppings is key to a well-cooked pizza (not soggy, or done in some places but not others). Bake for 15-20 minutes or until toppings look well-cooked, cheese is bubbling and crust is a nice light brown.

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