Why have I been away so long? Work, pressing deadlines, baking, visiting family …same old same old!
Why am I back? I got the virtual equivalent of a kick on my
ample soon-to-be-small behind from a friend who writes a very popular food blog to get back to blogging. So I promised to do one yesterday, and here I am racking my brains to say something new and interesting…today. I’ve grown a bit rusty, besides, brevity was never my strength, so please bear with the lengthy post.
A few years ago, I was introduced to the joys of thin-crust pizza at my favorite Italian restaurant and I never ever wanted to go back to pizza made by pizza company chains anymore! These pizzas were crisp, juicy and so very delectable, you are left licking your fingers long after you are done eating it.
Sometime early this year, egged on by my new-found success of baking with yeast, I tried my hand at baking thin-crust pizza on a Sunday afternoon. I topped it with as many things I could recollect from my favorite pizza, spinach, broccoli, corn, red and yellow peppers, onions. The crust was great and it made for some very pretty pictures but something was drastically missing in the flavoring… I thought the seasoning. So I stocked up on pizza seasoning, olives and oregano for a full-bodied flavor the next time around. Then forgot all about it.
We were celebrating a very dear friend’s birthday on the Sunday that went by. Since I had a working afternoon and had had a very labor-intensive week, I decided to keep dinner light, so we’d have corn cakes and pizza for dinner and an Orange Chiffon cake (that I baked a day ahead) to celebrate the birthday. I used the same recipe for pizza that I used earlier from here.
The husband and I got back home around 7 pm. I kneaded the pizza dough and set it aside to rise. By 10.30 pm, the last of the pizza was served and we could move away from the dining table and have some interesting conversations over sparkling white wine, red wine, and Mimosas. It was a perfect evening with some simply delicious pizzas , enough booze to lighten us up without leaving a nasty hangover on a Monday morning, and some very fun conversations. Totally my kind of party! Oh and some Angus and Julia Stone playing in the background.
Someone once told me that insecure cooks add to many ingredients to a dish. I have been guilty of that, so this time I experimented with very basic flavors and it worked. You simply can’t go wrong with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella (it really elevates the taste to another level and makes the pizza juicy) and some fresh basil. You need just chilli flakes to complete the taste.
Here’s the recipe for the pizza (I doubled the quantity as I was having 6 people over, you could halve it).
Yield – 4 medium thin-crust pizzas (I made 3 and have dough remaining for another large one)
What You Will Need
For the pizza base
- 3 cups flour
- 2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 12 tablespoons warm water (add a couple teaspoons more if required))
- 4 tablespoons white wine
- 1.5 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon honey
For the pizza sauce
- 10-12 hybrid tomatoes (popularly known as Bangalore tomatoes) I used 8, but they sufficed only for the 3 pizzas I made
- 5-6 cloves of garlic
- 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Salt to taste
- Paprika and/or chilli flakes to taste
- Flour for dusting
- 450-500 grams fresh buffalo mozzarella (you could dial down on this, if the amount shocks you, but it’s a non-negotiable if you want a juicy and delectable pizza, I might’ve used more 😉 )
- A generous splash of white wine
- Few basil leaves
How You Make It
- Whisk the yeast in wine and warm water till it dissolves
- Add the olive oil, salt and honey and continue to whisk
- Add the flour and mix and knead till it comes together.
- Place then dough in a large greased bowl that will provide it with enough headspace to rise. Wrap with cling film and set aside to rise and double for 1.5-2 hours.
- Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water and remove their skin when cool.
- Heat olive oil in a sauce pan, add crushed garlic to it and then the blanched and chopped tomatoes.
- Add sugar, salt and Paprika/chilli flakes to taste
- Add a generous splash of white wine and let the sauce simmer for 30 minutes till it is thick with chunks of tomatoes
For the pizza
- Change your oven setting to the pizza setting and preheat it to the maximum temperature. Place the baking sheet (or stone) you intend to bake the pizza on in the oven.
- Once the dough has doubled, put it on a floured surface and press the dough with your palm to deflate it. Form it into a ball, sprinkle with flour and cover with the bowl and keep for 15 minutes.
- Roll out you pizza into thin circles (I might’ve rolled them out too thin, they kept breaking, and I redid them quite a few times. The results were great though!)
- Lift it onto the baking sheet.
- Layer the base with a generous amount of tomato sauce.
- Tear up a lot of mozzarella and sprinkle on the sauce
- Last, tear up a few basil leaves and drop them on the pizza
- Place the baking-sheet back in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
- Carefully remove from oven, transfer to a wooden surface, cut into wedges, add some chilli flakes and any other seasoning that you’d like and dig. I loved mine with just chilli flakes.