As I mentioned yesterday, we’re going to be talking a lot about pizza this first week. It fits in nicely today, because we could make a lot of friends with pizza. Pizza and friendship go hand in hand – “Let’s grab a slice of pizza on our way” is one of sweetest phrases you could hear from a friend. But even more so, the surest way to a new friend’s heart is to make them a pizza from scratch.
Let’s talk dough. Yesterday, I briefly mentioned the dough that we used for our Halloween pizza. The pizza I’m going to describe today used the same dough, and with good reason – it’s the best. The recipe comes from a Cook’s Illustrated special edition titled “All Time Best Bread Recipes”. It’s not a difficult recipe, but you need to be patient. Flour, water, and salt go into a stand mixer for a few minutes and then rest for another 20. The yeast and sugar go in and then it’s another 10 minutes of kneading using the mixer’s dough hook. Then, there’s at least 2 hours of rise time.
All this work and waiting is about developing gluten. The gluten has to develop strong bonds so that the dough doesn’t collapse back into a thin cracker after rising. This recipe calls for about 30% more water than a typical pizza dough, which helps develop the gluten even more, leading to a crust that is thick and full of lovely air bubbles. Once the dough has risen, it is put onto an oiled cookie sheet and spread out by hand to cover the entire surface. Ten more minutes of resting and it can go into the oven for 15 minutes of crispy-making. Cooking it at 450 degrees with a ton of olive oil coating the pan and the dough results in a perfect marriage of a crispy outer layer and a soft, airy interior.
Now we’re at the part everyone loves – toppings. If we want to make friends, they had better be good. We started with this recipe as an inspiration and made it vegan. We swapped out the dairy ricotta for Kite Hill’s amazing almond milk ricotta and the dairy mozzarella was replaced with a special Miyoko’s smoked mozzarella. We added our own touch – a layer of toasted slivered almonds after the cheese but before the kale went on top.
After the toppings go on, the whole thing goes back in the oven to melt the cheese and get the toppings all warmed up. This one came out perfectly – the cheese was gooey and warm, the kale crisped up perfectly on top, and the garlic, chiles, and herbs blended into the ricotta elevated the whole thing to sublime perfection.
Will you be our friend?