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Seasonal Year-Round: Baking The Perfect Homemade Pizza Pie

Today on the podcast: tips for making pizza at home, a recipe for pizza crust and then some topping inspiration to get your culinary creative juices flowing

a pizza just out of the oven

Photo: Adam Schweigert/WFIU

You can use whatever is seasonal and looks good in the garden or at the market to top your homemade pizzas. Pictured: The Wild Bianca (recipe follows)

We’re into the coldest days of winter here in Indiana and this time of year eating fresh, local and seasonal ingredients can be especially difficult. Sure, there are still winter squash, winter greens, root vegetables and the like, and meats and cheeses, but many of us are already eagerly looking forward to spring and the new bounty it brings.

On the bright side, there are staple dishes like homemade pizza that, through your choice of toppings, can help you use what’s available at the local winter farmer’s market, or in your pantry, and still create a delicious homemade meal, even during the depths of winter.

That’s what we’ve got for you on the podcast today: some background information and tips for making pizza at home, a recipe for pizza crust and then some topping inspiration to get your culinary creative juices flowing and get you into the kitchen.

How Pizza Stones Work

One of the great things about taping Earth Eats in a restaurant kitchen is the availability of all the commercial-grade kitchen gadgets. In this case, we’re baking our pizza today with a $20,000 pizza oven.

I’m willing to bet most of you don’t have a $20,000 pizza oven, but fortunately, you can get similar results in your own oven with a $5 pizza stone. We asked chemist Leigh Krietsch Boerner to explain why pizza stones produce such scrumptious crusts. Read more »

Pie Dough

Yield: Makes four 12" pizzas

Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 ounce dry yeast
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Cooking Directions

  1. Combine first three ingredients and proof five minutes until foamy.
  2. Mix dry ingredients with dough hook, then add wet ingredients and olive oil.
  3. Knead on low for ten minutes.
  4. Place in an oiled bowl and cover.
  5. Leave at room temperature for two hours.
  6. Divide and refrigerate until needed.
  7. Proof one additional hour before rolling, topping and baking.

Pie Topping Inspiration

The Wild Bianca

Ingredients

  • 1 free-form pizza pie dough
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pesto
  • 1/2 cup assorted mushrooms (such as shiitake, oyster, cremini, or foraged mushrooms)
  • 1/4 cup ricotta
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese, grated
  • truffle oil
  • salt and pepper (as needed)

The Veganista

Ingredients

  • 1 free-form pizza pie dough
  • 3 tablespoons white bean hummus, loosened with a touch of water
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 red onion ring, grilled
  • 1 zucchini slice, grilled
  • 3 eggplant slices, grilled
  • 6 kalamata olives
  • 1/2 roasted red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 plum tomato, wedged
  • extra-virgin olive oil as needed
  • fresh rosemary and thyme as needed, chopped
  • salt and pepper

Baking The Perfect Homemade Pizza Pie

  1. Roll or stretch your dough out on a pizza peel (or the back of a cooking sheet).
  2. Brush a little olive oil onto the dough to prevent moisture seeping into the crust, then add your choice of toppings (take some inspiration from above, or just use whatever is seasonal and looks good in the garden or at the market. Remember less IS more!
  3. Sprinkle coarsely ground grains or cornmeal on a baking stone pre-heated in a 450-500 degree oven. Slide the pie off the peel or baking sheet and onto the stone with a jiggling motion.
  4. Bake one pizza at a time until the crust is browned or even lightly charred on the edges and crisp throughout (10-15 minutes).
  5. Consider adding a cold or room-temperature topping after the pies come out of the oven – arugula, smoked salmon, tuna sashimi, or fresh herbs.
  6. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil or other flavored oil and a sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper, sea salt and very roughly chopped Italian parsley.

Next Week

Recently Slow Food USA declared 2010 the year of the heirloom apple. Next week on the podcast, we’ll hear about heirloom apple varieties from ethnobotanist and author Gary Nabhan with recipes for apple pie, apple butter and more.

Be sure to join us then, or subscribe to the podcast in iTunes to make sure you don’t miss it!

Adam Schweigert

Adam Schweigert is the Managing Editor and Senior Producer for Earth Eats. He is also the Online Director for Indiana Public Media (WFIU/WTIU) and has been with WFIU Public Radio since the fall of 2003, previously serving as Director of Multimedia Initiatives, Music Director and Arts Bureau Chief. He lives in Bloomington, Indiana with his dog Sydney.

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