See, I got home at about 4 PM and started to make the crust recipe I'd found on the Cooks Illustrated website. I had combined all the ingredients when I came to a line in the instructions advising me to place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days.
In the immortal words of my governor, "oops."
That put a wrinkle in our dinner plans. But since the Margherita part of my pizza equation came from a recipe on Epicurious that actually called for store-bought refrigerated pizza dough, I decided to follow that path.
The result was that we had the pizza Margherita from the Epicurious website on Friday night ... complete with the dough from a cardboard tube. It was actually surprisingly good. The only things I didn't love: first, the tomato sauce called for a little crushed red pepper, and I thought it was a bit too spicy; and second, the crust was OK, but nothing to write home about.
|Thin, store-bought dough|
Thus, I present you with this recipe for pizza Margherita, a mash-up of two recipes with a few of my own modifications to boot. The store-bought crust option will yield a smaller, thinner pizza; the homemade crust is thick, but remarkably flavorful.
|Toppings, ready to go|
3 Tbs. vital wheat gluten
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/3 c. ice water
1 Tbs. olive oil + extra for bowl
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 13.8 oz. tube refrigerated pizza dough
1 Tbs. olive oil
12 oz. cherry or grape tomatoes (stems and leaves removed)
1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
1/2 tsp. fennel seeds (coarsely crushed)
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
dash black pepper
1/3 c. chopped fresh basil
4 oz. fresh mozzarella, drained and chopped
4 - 6 oz. shredded mozzarella
1/3 c. shredded parmesan
To make the homemade crust: Mix flour, gluten, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix until combined. With mixer running on low, slowly add ice water and continue mixing until the flour is all absorbed into a ragged dough ball. Allow dough ball to rest for 10 minutes. Then add olive oil and salt; turn mixer back on and let run on low until oil and salt are combined and dough comes together in a smooth ball. With floured hands, remove dough and shape into a nice, compact ball. Transfer to a large bowl, cover tightly (with a lid to the bowl or plastic wrap) and refrigerate for 24 - 72 hours.
To make tomato sauce: Heat a large skillet over high heat for at least two minutes. Add oil to hot skillet and then, immediately, tomatoes. Saute over high heat until tomatoes start to char and break down. Transfer tomatoes to a large bowl and crush with a fork or the back of a spoon (until all tomatoes are mushed but the sauce is still chunky). Add garlic, fennel, vinegar, salt and pepper. Stir.
To make pizza: If you made your own dough, remove it from the refrigerator about an hour before you plan to bake the pizza. Shape dough into a tight ball (eliminating some of the air), place it in a greased bowl, cover lightly with plastic sprayed with cooking spray, and allow to sit for an hour.
Move oven rack to top third. Preheat oven to 425. If you made your own dough, go ahead and put a large cookie sheet in the oven to preheat.
Combine cheeses and basil.
If you are using store-bought dough, roll it out onto a cookie sheet and press it out to a 12 x 8 rectangle. If you are using homemade dough, coat hands in flour. Place dough on a large sheet of parchment paper and flatten/stretch until it's a 10 x 15 rectangle. Top dough with cheese/basil mix and then dot with the tomato sauce.
|Sauce dotted on top of pizza.|
If using homemade dough, slide the parchment paper onto the preheated cookie sheet. Place/return cookie sheet to oven and bake (20 minutes for either type of crust, oddly enough - until the crust is golden brown).
Allow pizza to sit for about 5 minutes before cutting it.