Try a new twist on pizza with a crunchy walnut topping!
Homemade pizza is more accessible than you think, especially if you keep a supply of dough in the freezer, and a few topping ingredients on hand on a regular basis. If you make small pizzas ("pizzettas"), you can individualize the toppings, and satisfy the various tastes of everyone in your household, without a whole lot of extra work.
- 1 cup wrist-temperature water
- 1 package (2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
- A pinch of sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (plus extra for the bowl)
- 3 cups unbleached white flour (1/4 cup may be whole-wheat or rye)
- Extra flour for kneading
- Cornmeal for the baking trays or cookie sheets
- Thin slices of mozzarella
- Thinly sliced red onions
- Mushroom slices
- Sliced bell pepper (various colors)
- Broccoli florets
- Canned artichoke hearts, drained, and sliced
- Olives (any kind), pitted and sliced
- Ripe tomato slices
- Grated Parmesan or Pecorino
- Chopped California walnuts
- Place the water in a medium-large bowl, sprinkle in the yeast and sugar, and stir to dissolve. Let it stand 5 minutes, or until it begins to bubble.
- Stir in the salt, oil, and 1 cup flour. Beat for several minutes with a wooden spoon.
- Add the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time, mixing after each addition. The dough will be soft, but should not be sticky.
- Turn out onto a floured surface, and knead for several minutes. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rise until doubled in bulk. This will take about 1 hour.
- Punch down the dough, and return it to the floured surface. (This is the point at which you can freeze the dough for future use.) Divide it into four equal parts, knead each quarter for a few minutes, then let the four balls of dough rest for about 10 minutes. (This allows the gluten to relax, so the dough will stretch easily into shape.)
- Patiently stretch each ball into a 6-inch circle. Sprinkle two baking trays or cookie sheets with cornmeal, and place two circles on each. (Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 500°F.) Top each pizza with any combination of toppings. Make sure the walnuts are on top, so they can toast.
- Bake in the lower half of the oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the edges are crispy and brown. (If you're not sure whether or not it's baked through, you can take one pizza out of the oven and cut it in half. If it is still a little doughy on the inside, return it to the baking pan and bake a few minutes longer.) Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.
- One batch of dough divides perfectly into two 1-pound ricotta cheese containers—or fit a whole batch into a 1-quart yogurt container—for easy freezing. Take the container out of the freezer before you go to work, and it will be ready to roll, so to speak, when you get home.
- Prepare the topping ingredients while the dough rises.
- You can make several different pizzas and serve them together.