Ask any kid (or many adults that I know as well!) what their favourite food is and there’s a good chance that the answer will be pizza. Pizza as we know it now has strayed quite a distance from its original Naples creation of crisp dough, fresh tomato sauce, a basil leaf or two and some stringy mozzarella. So what is it about a simple crust and a few additions that make this food a favourite all over the world?
As chefs, teachers, and mother, we try to focus on healthy food made from scratch. Pizza is no exception, and with March break approaching, why not get the whole family in the kitchen and experiment with some homemade dough and an array of toppings? To cut back on the massive amount of sodium that is in processed foods we prefer a sauce made of some good-quality canned tomatoes (San Marzano brand from Italy is fantastic), or, a simple olive oil and garlic base.
Everyone has their favourite toppings, but no matter what you choose to put on top abide by this rule: sprinkle toppings sparingly closer to the edge of the crust. This will ensure a crispy, not soggy, crust. If you want extra cheese, bake it once with a small amount of cheese, and then add more and bake until melted.
This dough will make about 2 medium sized pizzas, or 6 mini pizzas. Once assembled, the pizzas freeze really well on a paper plate; just bake from frozen for the same amount of time.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp dry instant yeast
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- About 1 1/2 cups water, divided
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp honey
- Toppings, as desired
- Extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper, for garnishing
In a large bowl combine the flour, yeast and salt;
Mix together 1 cup of the water with the olive oil and honey; quickly and strongly mix into flour mixture, then gradually add the rest of the water until a ball of dough forms (you may need more or less water); mix together for 3-5 minutes;
Turn out dough onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 3 minutes;*
Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl; cover with plastic wrap and a clean towel; place in a warm place and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour;
Pre-heat oven to 425°F with pizza stone for about 20 minutes;
Divide dough into desired pizza sizes; roll into balls and place on work surface; cover again with clean towel and let rest until dough has relaxed, about 15 minutes;
Stretch dough with your hands to desired round shape; dress pizza, as desired, and place pizzas on stone directly in oven or on a baking sheet;
Bake for 15-20 minutes; drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper, just before serving.
*To knead turn ball of dough out onto floured surface; fold the top half of the dough into the center; press down with the heel of your hand; turn ball counter-clockwise a quarter turn and then repeat the process again: top half of ball into the center, press down, turn. Kneading in the same direction will help build elasticity in the dough. Knead until the ball is smooth and when pressed with your fingertip will spring back.
Chefs Kirstie Herbstreit and Jody O’Malley are both Red Seal certified chefs. Together they run the company YouCanCook2, specializing in interactive dinner parties. You can also find them cooking at Entertaining Elements in St. Jacobs, where they hold private dinners for eight people. To contact the chefs, visit their website www.youcancook2.com.