Personal Pizza

Photo by Fred + Elliott

Chciken Tagine

Eric Lindquist uses an Italian-made Fontana Forni, Marinara model, wood-fired oven to bake his pizza.

Bring brick oven-style pizza home with a couple of tools and some creative toppings.

Photo by Fred + Elliott

Pizza guru Eric Lindquist.

There’s just no comparing the crisp-chewy crust and thoughtfully chosen toppings of an artisanal pizza with your standard delivery pie—but foregoing the delights of dining out has been one of the ongoing challenges of the pandemic for many people. On the other hand, having time to cook is one of the silver linings, and great pizza is something most people can learn to make. (As a bonus, you can use some of that sourdough starter lurking in your fridge to make the dough!) 

To get a truly toasty crust, you’ll need two tools—a pizza peel and a baking stone—that are widely available online and at restaurant supply stores. If you’ll be making the sourdough crust, you’ll also need a kitchen scale for measuring the ingredients. Plus, pick up a bag of semolina (or finely ground cornmeal) in the flour section of the grocery store; you’ll need it to keep the pizza from sticking to the peel. Remember that the dough needs to double and rest, so make it ahead of time.

Once you’ve shaped the dough, put on your pizza artist persona to top and bake your pie in the best bistro style—follow our suggestions or create your own combinations. 

Making the Dough

Everyday Pizza Dough
Photo by Fred + Elliott

Making the dough.

This dough can be made the day you use it or the day before, and works well on a pizza stone or baking sheet in home ovens. 

2 ¼ cups water at 105 degrees

2 teaspoons sugar, divided

2 teaspoons yeast 

6 cups bread flour (a high protein flour)

1 teaspoons salt

3 tablespoons olive oil

Combine 1 teaspoon sugar with the water and stir to dissolve. Sprinkle in the yeast, stir to blend, and let sit until the yeast starts to bubble and activate. Meanwhile, combine the flour, salt, and remaining teaspoon of sugar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook. When the yeast is activated, add the water and olive oil to the dry ingredients. Mix with the dough hook for 3 minutes on low, then 1 minute on medium speed. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for about 2 hours at room temperature, until doubled in size. 

Photo by Fred + Elliott

Preparing the dough.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and divide in half. Shape into two dough balls. If using immediately, cover with plastic wrap and let dough rest for about 1 hour before shaping pizzas. To hold overnight, coat the inside of two plastic zipper bags or plastic containers with olive oil. Put the dough balls into individual containers and refrigerate. Let sit for about an hour to come to room temperature before shaping. Shape and bake as directed below.

Makes two 14-inch pizzas

Sourdough Pizza 

Some gluten-sensitive fans of this crust say that the sourdough fermentation process breaks down the gluten and makes it easier to digest. For optimal flavor and fermentation, this recipe must be made five days in advance. Works best in a high-temperature wood-fired oven.

1,000g OO flour (can use all-purpose flour)

650g water at room temperature 

80g sourdough starter

16g Morton’s kosher salt (do not substitute table salt)

In a large mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine all ingredients. Mix on low for 2 minutes, then on medium for 3 minutes. Remove the dough and divide it into four dough balls, each weighing about 436g. Prepare four sealed plastic pint or quart containers, or plastic zipper bags, by coating the inside of each with olive oil. Put the dough balls into individual containers or bags and refrigerate for five days. Let sit at room temperature for two hours before shaping. Shape and bake as directed below.

Makes four 16-inch pizzas

Shaping the Dough

On a floured surface, flatten the dough with your hands. Press out, stretching, until the dough is even, circular, and about ½-inch thick. With your fingertips, press around the edge of the circle, about ½-inch from the outside, to make a raised edge (called the “cornicione”). Keeping the cornicione at ½-inch, press and stretch the center of the dough to reach the desired pizza size. Sprinkle a pizza peel with semolina or finely ground cornmeal and place the dough on the peel. Add toppings. Slide into oven onto the pizza stone. 

Baking the Pizza

Home Oven: With pizza stones in the oven, preheat for at least one hour at the hottest setting, 550 degrees or higher. Using a peel, slide the pizza onto the hot pizza stone. Check the pizza every 3-4 minutes and turn if needed to brown evenly. Cook until the crust and cheese are browned, about 10 minutes. 

Wood Oven: Preheat the oven for 2 hours, building up the coal bed until the temperature reaches 600 degrees for the everyday dough and 750 degrees for the sourdough. Using a peel, slide the pizza into the hot oven and leave the door open. Watch the pizza continually, and turn to brown evenly. Remove when the pizza is browned and has a few charred, blistered spots on the crust, 1-2 minutes. 

Photo by Fred + Elliott

From left to right: vegan pizza, Italian sub pizza, lemon pizza.

Italian Sub Pizza

This pizza is a meat-lover’s dream with a crisp, crunchy lettuce topping. 

¼ head iceberg lettuce, thinly sliced

¼ red onion, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil 

salt and pepper

¼ – 1/3 cup crushed tomato

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 cup loosely packed shredded mozzarella (about 4 ounces)

2 ounces each thinly sliced pepperoni, salami, and capaciola grated Parmesan 

In a large bowl, toss the lettuce and onion with the olive oil, red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Spread the crushed tomato thinly on the shaped pizza dough. Sprinkle with oregano and ½ teaspoon salt. Spread the cheese evenly. Cover the pie with slightly overlapping slices of pepperoni, salami, and capaciola. Bake as directed. Remove from the oven and immediately spread the lettuce topping over the pizza. Optional: Sprinkle with Parmesan. 

Makes one pizza

Lemon Pizza  

The thin lemon slices on this white pizza caramelize, highlighting their sweetness. The bright flavor works perfectly with creamy ricotta and spicy red pepper flakes. 

½ cup whole milk ricotta 

1 mild sweet lemon, sliced very thin

8-9 leaves fresh basil

¼ – ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

olive oil

salt and pepper

optional: grated Parmesan

Using a spatula, spread the ricotta thinly on the shaped pizza dough. Evenly distribute the lemon slices and basil, and sprinkle with the red pepper flakes. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake as directed. Optional: Once out of the oven, finish with grated Parmesan. 

Makes one pizza

Vegan Pizza

Vegan cheese can be dicey on a pizza, because it rarely melts properly. Instead, try leaving it off completely for this robust, earthy vegan option. 

¼ – 1/3 cup crushed tomato

½ teaspoon salt

2 cloves fresh garlic, thinly sliced

¼ red onion, thinly sliced

3 large leaves fresh basil, torn into pieces mixed grilled vegetables, sliced ¼” thick (eggplant, green or yellow squash, zucchini)

½ cup roasted red pepper strips

olive oil

salt and pepper

Spread the crushed tomato on the dough, almost up to the edge. Sprinkle with salt, then spread garlic, onions, and basil decoratively. Place the vegetable slices evenly on the pizza, and drizzle with olive oil. Finish with salt and pepper. Bake as directed.

Makes one pizza

Photo by Fred + Elliott

Chciken Tagine

Inserting the lemon pizza into the oven.

This article originally appeared in our October 2020  issue.

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