Sweet and Spicy From-Scratch Pizza

Whole Pizza 3-4 I have a pizza problem.  There I said it.  My name is Kerry and I have a pizza problem. 

Back when I didn’t cook (and even now when I get lazy) I ordered pizza once, twice, sometimes even THREE times a week! Then  I’d get on the scale at the end of the week and wonder where those three new pounds came from… and then look over at the stack of empty pizza boxes. 

A good rule of thumb if you share my pizza problem: only eat pizza if it’s a special occasion or if you make it yourself.  I cannot, will not, ever give up pizza and there really aren’t enough special events that involve pizza to satisfy my appetite.  So, I’ve been gradually learning how to make pizza exactly how I like it at home.  I think I’ve finally got it…. Dough Proofing First is the dough. In Chicago pizzarias often use a cornmeal crust that’s laden with butter or oil.  I like that occasionally, but I really prefer a thin, crisp crust for my everyday pizza cravings.  I’ve modified the Lazy Pizza Dough recipe that Smitten Kitchen published a few months ago.  Floured Countertop This dough is super easy to pull together and really can be modified to fit your schedule.  I prefer the longer 24 hour proof to really develop the favor of the crust, but shorten as suggested if you need the dough to be ready in less time. Sauce Ingredients Next question?  Sauce. Garlic Thyme Red Pepper I follow the tradition of a lot of Chicago pizzarias by making my sauce a little sweeter than most.  If you’re not a fan of sweeter sauces, feel free to omit the sugar.  Sweating Onions If the sauce is still too sweet for you, reduce or omit the sweated onion I use.  Cooking over low heat can really concentrate the sweetness of the onion, so reducing it will help eliminate the sweet if it’s not your thing. Sauce with Bay Leaves And, as always, adding a bit of salt will help balance out any sweet you’re trying to rid yourself of.  Splash of red wine could help that, too. Pizza with Peppers Finally: toppings!  I’m making my pizza a sweet-and-spicy pie with sweet sauteed baby bell peppers….. Pizza with Sausage …. spicy pork Italian sausage…. Pizza Ready to Bake … and portobella mushroom slices.  I also brushed the outer edge of the crust with a bit of olive oil just to make sure we get the crispness I’m looking for. Whole Pizza Overhead After baking I put some chopped parsley, basil chiffonade, and arugula on the pizza and tented it with foil to allow the greens to wilt.  The peppery flavor of the arugula is great to offset the sweetness of the sauce and the peppers.  Delicioso! Whole Pizza Side View A note about baking the pizza: a pizza stone is best.  Really.  But if you don’t have one, just use a pan that can withstand really high temperatures.  You’ve got to get your oven kind of scary-hot for this pizza to give you this gorgeous charring and blistering.  Be brave, be careful, and enjoy your pizza!  

Sweet and Spicy From-Scratch Pizza
Yields 2
Bake pizza from scratch to work off the calories and make it your very own! NOTE: This pizza crust requires AT LEAST 6 HOURS!
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For the crust
  1. 3 cups bread flour
  2. 1 cup warm water
  3. 1/4 cup high quality olive oil
  4. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  5. 1 tablespoon King Arthur Flour Pizza Dough flavor enhancer (optional - see Note)
  6. 1/8 to 1/2 heaping teaspoon yeast (see Note)
For the sauce
  1. 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  2. 1 small yellow onion, minced (about 1 cup, but a little more or less is fine)
  3. 4 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 1/2 tablespoons, but a little more or less is fine)
  4. 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  5. 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
  6. 1-28 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes with juice (see Note)
  7. 2 bay leaves
  8. 1 tablespoon sugar
  9. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  10. fresh black pepper
  11. 1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil
Toppings suggestions
  1. Shredded mozzarella
  2. Shredded "Italian Blend" cheeses
  3. Spicy Italian sausage
  4. Sauteed sweet bell pepper
  5. Mushroom slices
  6. Arugula
  7. Chopped parsley
  8. Basil chiffonade
First, make the crust
  1. Up to 24 hours and as little as 6 hours prior to the time you want to use the dough, combine all ingredients in a large bowl and use a spatula or your hands to combine into a large, somewhat shaggy ball. Note yeast proportions...
  2. For dough to be used the following day (24 hour dough), use a heaping 1/8 teaspoon yeast;
  3. For dough to be used 12 hours after kneading, use a heaping 1/4 teaspoon yeast;
  4. For dough to be used 6 hours after kneading, use a heaping 1/2 teaspoon yeast.
  5. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and leave in a warm, dry place to proof for the number of hours you desire (24, 12, 6).
About an hour prior to making your pizza, make the sauce
  1. Warm oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat for about 3 minutes, then turn heat down to low. Add onions and stir to coat in oil. Allow onions to cook slowly, stirring frequently, until very soft and translucent, about 7-10 minutes. Onions should not brown, but simply sweat and become very soft and almost paste-like.
  2. Add garlic. Stir to combine well with the onion and cook for a minute or so. Increase heat to medium. Add red pepper, salt, pepper, and thyme leaves. Stir constantly while cooking for about 30-45 seconds. Pour in canned tomatoes, including their juices. Add bay leaves and sugar. Stir well and taste for flavor. Add additional salt and pepper as desired.
  3. Cover sauce and cook on medium-high heat for about 15-20 minutes or until sauce has thickened slightly and tomatoes are mostly broken down into small pieces. Use the back of a wooden spoon to break up any remaining large pieces of tomato. Taste again and adjust salt and pepper if needed. Remove from heat.
  4. Remove bay leaves and add basil. Stir well, cover and set aside.
Prepare the crust for baking
  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. If using a pizza stone, be sure you place the stone in the oven on a rack set closest to the heating element to preheat.
  2. Turn out the dough onto a well-floured work surface and cut the dough in half.
  3. Using a rolling pin, gradually roll the dough out to a 12-inch round, trimming edges as necessary. Dough will be about 1/8 inch thick when rolled out. Don't worry - it will puff in the oven.
  4. Place dough on a pizza peel or a cookie sheet (without walls) for easy transfer to the pizza stone.
  5. Spread about 1/2 cup of the sauce over the pizza. Sprinkle on cheese, peppers, sausage, mushrooms and anything else your heart desires for toppings.
Finally, bake your pizza
  1. When oven is preheated, VERY CAREFULLY transfer the pizza to the stone for baking. Watch your pizza carefully and use your nose! If you smell something burning, trust your senses and check that pizza! Crust should take anywhere from 5-10 minutes to bake, depending on how hot your oven really is and how close your stone is to the heating element. A bit of charring on the edges is fine.
  2. When baked, transfer the pizza back to the peel or cookie sheet and allow to cool for about 5 minutes before slicing. If using arugula, basil, parsley or other greens, place the greens on the pizza right out of the oven and tent with foil to allow the greens to wilt.
  3. Make your second pizza according to the same procedure, wrap the dough in plastic wrap to store in the refrigerator for 3 days or freeze for up to about 1 month.
  4. If using thawed/cold pizza dough, allow it to come back up to room temperature before attempting to form your pizza and bake. Enjoy!!
Notes
  1. FLAVOR ENHANCER - this is an amazing product you can get at specialty kitchen stores such as Sur la Table or through King Arthur Flour's own online store. It contains cheese, nutritional yeast and some garlic powder to enhance the flavor of your dough and make it more complex. Totally optional, but really nice if you can find it.
  2. YEAST - for 24 hour dough, use a heaping 1/8 teaspoon yeast; for 12 hour dough use a heaping 1/4 teaspoon yeast; for 6 hour dough use a heaping 1/2 teaspoon yeast.
  3. TOMATOES - as always, I prefer San Marzano tomatoes, but use whatever you can find in the store.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen (crust only)
Milk Glass Kitchen http://www.milkglasskitchen.com/
   

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  • Mike December 30, 2013, 9:48 am

    For the cheese, aged or sharp provolone mixed with mozzarella works great. Also, I find that it melts better if you shred it yourself, rather than getting pre-shredded, since that has additives mixed in to prevent it from clumping.

    Reply
    • Kerry December 30, 2013, 9:51 am

      Thanks for the tips, Mike!

      Reply