One of my food goals for 2010 is to learn how to make great pizza.  Pizza is one of my favourite food groups (up there with doughnuts and bacon) so me not being able to make a perfect pizza drives me nuts.  I understand the limitations of my home oven but I’ve been pretty confident that I can get better results with some serious trial and error.

My first step was to buy a pizza stone.  First I went to Williams Sonoma but their stones were $60+. Too rich for my blood! So instead I went to Kitchen Stuff Plus and bought this pizza stone for $12. I just wasn’t convinced that I had to spend a lot of $$ to get a pizza stone that would do the job.  I was also going to buy a pizza peel but then I read that I could use the back of a cookie sheet and get the same results. DONE.

The part of pizza making that never quite turns out right is the crust.  This time I decided to try a recipe by Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery and the no-knead bread phenomenon and more recently of this great pizza spot called Co. which I blogged about here.  The recipe uses the no-knead idea which I love because I do not love kneading anything.  The only problem is that you have to plan in advance since the dough needs about 24 hours.  But with some planning things are all good.  I’ve read some horror stories about working with this dough but I didn’t find it to be that tricky, maybe because I’ve made no-knead bread so many times.  Sure the dough is sticky but if you flour your surface and hands enough it works out just fine.

Before working with the dough I put my pizza stone in the oven and heated the oven to about 500 degrees.  I let the stone sit in there for over 30 minutes to get to the right temperature.  While the stone heated up I stretched out my dough on a pizza of parchment on top of the back of a cookie sheet to my desired size/shape.  I then topped my pizza with tomato sauce, mozzarella, mushrooms and some sausage (no sausage would make this vegetarian, obviously).  I also sprinkled some rosemary and olive oil on the top.  I then eased the parchment paper with the pizza from the cookie sheet and onto the pizza stone and let it cook for about 10-12 minutes.

This was definitely the best pizza I’ve ever made.  Not the best I’ve ever had but pretty darn good.  The crust was crisp and light with some air bubbles but didn’t have that nice charred crust you get at restaurants.  I’m guessing that’s because pizza ovens are far hotter than 500F.  I was very happy with the crust but will be testing out a few other crust recipes to see how they turn out with the pizza stone.

Oh, and the bonus to making smaller pizzas is that everyone can top them as they wish.  Perfecto!

No-Knead Pizza Dough

Adapted from Jim Lahey, Co.
Makes four 12-inch pizza crusts

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast (such as SAF brand)
1½ teaspoons salt
1½ cups water
1. In a large bowl, mix the flour with the yeast and salt. Add the water and stir until blended (the dough will be very sticky). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest for 12 to 24 hours in a warm spot, about 70°.
2. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and lightly sprinkle the top with flour. Fold the dough over on itself once or twice, cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.
3. Divide the dough into 4 pieces and shape each piece into a ball. Generously sprinkle a clean cotton towel with flour and cover the dough balls with it. Let the dough rise for 2 hours.
4. Stretch or toss the dough into the desired shape, cover with toppings and bake on top of a very hot pizza stone.

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3 Responses to The Perfect Pizza #1

  1. Marie says:

    that is quite possibly one of the most beautiful pizzas i have ever seen. and i have seen a LOT of pizza in my day!!

  2. coco says:

    yum! as you know i’m obsessed with pizza but i’ve always been scared to try and make it. you’ve inspired me, i will try this next week and let you know.

    great job, i’m still salivating at the pic :/


  3. Karine says:

    Great job with your pizza!

    I also saw pizza stones at Kitchen Stuff today at $12. The price is much more reasonable than at William Sonoma for sure!

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