We haven’t done a pizza in a while. Why not go all the way and do pizza according to Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois? Their newest book, Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day, ended up in our hands during last year’s Foodbuzz Blogger Festival in San Francisco. The book is an in depth explanation of various doughs and toppings, as well as fully detailed preparation and cooking methods, to help you make artisan-style pizza in minutes. Five minutes, to be exact. The base notion of this book is in line with one of the cooking rules we believe in, and that is the fact that not every homemade dish has to take up your entire day. Homemade pizza dough can be all your’s, and once you give it a whirl, you’ll find that your fives minutes will be well spent.
Does your favorite pizza crust crackle and crumble with each bite? Or does it fold and soften with a chewy pull? Some people like it thick and buttery, while others can appreciate the thin fired crust. We’ve made a few basic pizza doughs, and usually our’s will fall into that chewy category. There’s no wood burning brick oven in our respective backyards, and believe it or not, neither one of us has a pizza stone or peel. We’re in the same pool with the average person who just wants to make pizza at home instead of calling for takeout.
Luckily for us, Jeff and Zoe’s book is still applicable for the everyday pizza maker. They do offer great breakdowns on the types of flours, sweeteners, leavening agents, oils and toppings, as well as the water, that all go into the making of a great pizza. It’s the perfect set up to learn the basic foundations of pizza. A discussion of flour included explanations about all-purpose, bread, semolina, spelt, cake and gluten-free flours, as well as the hard to find (at least here in the States) Italian Caputo “00″ flour. The latter is the flour used to create the Neapolitan pizza crust, which is crispy and tender. If you can’t get your hands on that flour, you can use the book’s recipe that combines all-purpose and cake flour to achieve the tender crust.
With book in hand, it was pizza time. There are a number of delicious recipes that include flatbreads, soups, dips and even dessert pizzas. The Ultimate Tender Neopolitan Pizza Crust served as the base for two very different pizzas. The dough literally took just a few minutes, and can supposedly be used immediately, but it is naturally a very sticky mess. It’s best if you give the dough time to rest in the fridge, so it is easier to form in your hands. This dough actually rested overnight, but it was still a bit sticky. A well floured work surface will do you good. Also note that the pizza recipe is supposed to make four thin pizzas, but for the purpose of this post, the batch of dough was split into two pieces. This created thicker pizzas. A variation of the White Pizza with Spinach was on the menu, in addition to a Salami and Goat Cheese pizza. Both were served at a friend’s movie night, and they were gobbled up quickly.
Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois would love for one of you to grab a copy of their book, so here is your chance to nab a giveaway. Here’s how you can win:
Leave a comment on this post with your favorite pizza combination.
Leave a comment on our blog for each of your entry methods. All entries must be submitted by Wednesday, February 15th at 11:59 pm pst. Be sure to include your contact information. Entrants must reside in the contiguous United States.
Ultimate Tender Neopolitan Pizza Crust – Makes 4 – 1/2 pound 12″ pizzas (Adapted from Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day)
1 1/2 cups plus 1/8 cup water, warmed to 120-130 degrees
1/2 tablespoon yeast
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups cake flour
1. Pour the water, yeast, salt and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer equipped with a paddle attachment.* Give the mixture a slight stir and allow to sit for 3-5 minutes.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk the two flours together until combined. Carefully pour the flours into the liquid and mix until combined. Remove the bowl from the stand, cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for two hours or until doubled in size.
3. Divide the dough into six pieces, and use them right away if desired. Otherwise, use what you need, wrap the remaining dough balls in plastic wrap, then foil and keep them in the fridge or freezer if necessary. Use the dough within two weeks. If frozen, allow to thaw overnight before using.
*You can also make this dough in a bowl. Just mix the ingredients with a large, study spoon.
White Pizza with Spinach – Serves 8 (Adapted from Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day)
Ultimate Tender Neopolitan Pizza Crust (recipe above)
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons flour
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups heavy cream
2 cloves garlic, sliced
Zest of 1 lemon
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 ounces spinach leaves
Cornmeal, for dusting the pan
1/3 cup ricotta cheese
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/2″ thick
1. Melt the butter in a medium pot over medium heat. Once melted, add the flour and salt, whisking continuously for 1-2 minutes. Add the heavy cream and garlic, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for another 2-3 minutes or until the cream begins to thicken. If the cream begins to boil, reduce the heat once more. Remove from heat, and stir in the lemon zest, nutmeg and cheese. Cool completely.
2. Heat the olive oil in a wide pan over medium low heat. Once hot, add the spinach and cook for 30-45 seconds, stirring often, just until the leaves wilt. Remove from heat and set aside. Once cool, drain and squeeze out any moisture.
3. Dust a baking sheet or pizza stone with a bit of cornmeal. Spread the dough out to a radius of 12″ and set on the sheet or stone. Top with the cream sauce, and dot the ricotta on top. Spread the spinach around followed by the mozzarella cheese. Bake in an oven preheated to 450 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until the crust begins to brown along the edges.
Salami and Goat Cheese Pizza – Serves 8
Ultimate Tender Neopolitan Crust (recipe above)
8 ounces diced tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1/8 cup chopped yellow onion
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Cornmeal, for dusting the pan
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 large green bell pepper, thinly sliced
4 ounces Italian salami, thinly sliced
2 ounces goat cheese
1. Pour the diced tomatoes, garlic, parsley, onion, red pepper flakes, basil, oregano, balsamic vinegar and salt into the bowl of a food processor. Blend for 1-2 minutes. Pour the mixture into a medium sauce pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil, cover and cook for 15 minutes over low heat. Remove the lid and continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat and cool completely.
2. Heat the remaining olive oil in a shallow pan over medium heat. Once warm, add the onions and peppers and cook until just softened but not browned, approximately 3-5 minutes. Set aside until cool to the touch.
3. Dust a baking sheet or pizza stone with a bit of cornmeal. Spread the dough out to a radius of 12″ and set on the sheet or stone. Top with the salami, onions and peppers and dot the goat cheese on top. Bake on the bottom rack of an oven preheated to 450 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until the crust browns along the edges.
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