I don’t know why these are called pizza pizzas, but I like it. I actually made this pizza on the weekend but did not get a chance to take any photos, so I decided to use the leftover ingredients to make it again! That means that I have eaten a ridiculous amount of pizza this week because I also had pizza for dinner last night and on Monday. I am out of control. Next dish will have some yucky veggies for sure though, so don’t you fret about my health!
The Texas Book Festival took place in Austin this past weekend, and I was lucky enough to attend so that I could meet Alton Brown for the third time. He released the final book in his Good Eats trilogy, and I just felt like I had to get the last one signed since the first two had been signed in previous years. That man is absolutely hilarious. He did a question and answer session before the signing, and I was just in tears through most of it. Someone in the audience asked him if he would ever compete on Iron Chef. He answered that he would not, but he would challenge Morimoto (my favourite!) if he did. He then proceeded to do an impression of the chairman to announce what ingredient he would choose to stump the culinary genius that is Iron Chef Morimoto. “And the secret ingredient is…..BEANIE-WEENIES!” I was there with a couple of friends, and we just about died laughing. He is a goofy guy who never fails to put a smile on my face, and I am super bummed that Good Eats is no more.
I thought I would celebrate my meeting with Alton Brown by making one of his recipes. Pizza dough has long been on my seemingly endless list of foods to try making, so this seemed like a good recipe to go with. Alton tends to make recipes more complicated than I would normally like, but he does so much research on the science behind cooking that his recipes almost always turn out perfect. He also is usually the person to look to if you want to find a no-frills recipe, meaning a cheese pizza instead of a fancy one to start out. He starts with the basics, and that is perfect for me.
Alton Brown’s Pizza Pizzas
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp pure olive oil
3/4 cup warm water
2 cups bread flour (I used King Arthur unbleached bread flour)
1 tsp instant yeast (rapid rise)
2 tsp olive oil
Olive oil, for the pizza crust
Flour, for dusting the pizza peel (I do not have a pizza peel)
1 1/2 ounces pizza sauce
1/2 tsp each chopped fresh herbs such as thyme, oregano, red pepper flakes (I used dried herbs)
A combination of 3 grated cheeses such as mozzarella, Monterey Jack, and provolone (there is actually a shredded mix that you can find that uses all three of those cheeses)
Place the sugar, salt, olive oil, water, 1 cup of flour, yeast, and remaining cup of flour into the mixer’s work bowl.
Using the paddle attachment, start the mixer on low and mix until the dough just comes together, forming a ball. Lube the hook attachment with cooking spray. Attach the hook to the mixer and knead for 15 minutes on medium speed.
Tear off a small piece of dough and flatten into a disc. Stretch the dough until thin. Hold it up to the light and look to see if the baker’s windowpane, or taut membrane, has formed. If the dough tears before it forms, knead the dough for an additional 5 to 10 minutes. I looked up a little video about the baker’s windowpane because I had never heard of it before, but basically you just want to stretch your dough thin enough to see through it when held up to the light without the dough tearing.
Roll the pizza dough into a smooth ball on the countertop. Place into a stainless steel or glass bowl. Add 2 tsp olive oil to the bowl and toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 18 to 24 hours.
Place the pizza stone or tile onto the bottom of a cold oven and turn the oven to its highest temperature, about 500 degrees F. If the oven has coils on the floor, place the tile onto the lowest rack of the oven. I do not have a pizza stone, nor do I want to spend money on a pizza stone. The first time I made this I did not bother heating anything in the oven before making the pizza, and it came out just fine. It was not as crispy as I would have liked, but it was delicious otherwise. The second time I put a baking sheet into the oven and heated it up. I then transferred the pizza to the sheet to bake, but this was a pain.
Split the pizza dough into 2 equal parts using a knife or dough scraper. Flatten into a disk onto the countertop and then fold the dough into a ball.
Wet hands barely with water and rub them onto the countertop to dampen the surface. Roll the dough on the surface until it tightens. Cover one ball with a tea towel and rest for 30 minutes.
Repeat the steps with the other piece of dough. If not baking the remaining pizza immediately, spray the inside of a ziploc bag with cooking spray and place the dough ball into the bag. Refrigerate for up to 6 days.
Sprinkle the flour onto the peel and place the dough onto the peel (I was just using cookie sheets). Using your hands, form a lip around the edges of the pizza. Stretch the dough into a round disc, rotating after each stretch.
Brush the rim of the pizza with olive oil. Spread the pizza sauce evenly onto the pizza. Sprinkle herbs onto the pizza and top with cheese.
Slide the pizza onto the stone or whatever it is you are using in the oven and bake for 7 minutes, or until bubbly and golden brown. As you can see, I was a little bit too generous with the cheese that I put on so it didn’t melt all the way but it was still delicious!