Margherita Pizza

The Ingredients

The Sauce:
Crushed Fire Roasted Tomatoes (28 oz can) (2)
Tomato Paste (6 oz can) (1)
Minced Garlic
Italian Seasoning
Coarse Black Pepper
Celtic Sea Salt

The Crust:
Artisan Bread Flower (2 cups)
Active Dry Yeast ( 1 Packet)
Sugar (about 2 Tbsp)
Celtic Sea Salt (about 1 Tbsp)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

The Toppings:
Sliced Mozzarella or Burrata Cheese
Fresh Basil Leaves (preferably straight from a live plant)

The Recipe

I absolutely love this recipe. I came across it several years ago, and have modified it steadily over time. The flavor profile that results from the combination of mozzarella and basil is simply unparalleled….though it’s the crust that really takes time to perfect.

When you begin this recipe, don’t judge yourself to harshly if your crust isn’t perfect. Expect that. In my humble opinion, it takes about half-a-dozen attempts to begin to get a feel for how a crust…particularly a thin crust…should come together.

Here we go…

The Crust

Heat 1 cup of water in a small saucepan. About 150 degrees. Meanwhile, combine salt, sugar, and yeast in a mixing bowl that has been greased with extra virgin olive oil. Once the water is properly heated, pour it into the bowl. Let sit for about 5 minutes to give the yeast time to dissolve into the water.

Add flour and mix until the dough turns into a cohesive ball. About 5 minutes. Once finished, cover with a towl and set in a warm place to allow the dough to rise. An hour is about right.

Yes…that is me in the reflection of the bowl. 🙂

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 500 degrees and prepare a pizza pan by brushing it liberally with a coat of extra virgin olive oil. Set aside.

Spread a liberal dusting of flour on a clean counter while also ensuring to coat a roller in the same.

Place the dough on the counter and begin to knead with your bare hands. Make sure to add flour to the dough as you knead it. It is very difficult to add too much flour, so don’t be stingy.

Continue to work the dough until the consistency changes a bit and the dough becomes slightly more solid. You’ll be able to tell when that happens. If you’re working the dough and you’re wondering whether you’ve reached that point, you probably have.

Add more flour and begin to use the roller to flatten the dough out into a circle. You may need to start this process over a few times if you’re not getting the result that you want. Don’t worry about that. If you need to, add more flour and knead the dough again…then start over with the process of rolling it out. You’ll get it to where you want it eventually.

Once you do, carefully transition it to your pizza pan. I prefer a thin crust, so I find that it is best to place the pan as close to the dough as possible to minimize the distance that I have to transfer the dough.

Once on the pan(s), fold over the excess dough to create the edge that will define the boundary of the pizza.

Place in the oven for 8-10 minutes.

The Sauce

This sauce is fairly simple, and tasty.

Heat the crushed fire roasted tomatoes and the tomato paste in a skillet. Add minced garlic, along with coarse black pepper, Celtic sea salt, and Italian seasoning to taste.

I normally reduce this for about 45 minutes to give it a great flavor. I find that preparing this while the dough is rising tends to make the timeline work out pretty well. Make sure that you save some for dipping the crust into later!

The Toppings

Remove the crust from the oven and place on a trivet. Baste with a thin layer of sauce…too much will ruin the flavor, so be careful with it.

Add sliced mozzarella cheese placed strategically around the pizza. Lay fresh basil leaves on top and you’re ready to go!

Place in the oven at 425 for about 12 minutes, or until the pizza is cooked through. The cheese should brown slightly, as should the crust. Pull it out, cut and serve!

Pro Tip: If you’ve read this far, try using burrata cheese next time. It’s a bit more difficult to work with, but the flavor is outstanding!

Published by Matthew Scraper

Marathoner | UMC Minister | Veteran Sniper | Fiercely Cherokee

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