Thursday, February 24, 2011

Stone-Baked Pesto and Black Olive Pizza

People often wonder how to make pizza with the light and crispy crust that you can find in so many restaurants. Fortunately, for the home cook, it’s not a big mystery. If you invest in a baking stone, which can run as cheap as $15 or $20, you’ve purchased your ticket to deliciously addictive homemade pizza. All you’ll need to do once you have your stone is make a reliable pizza crust (recipe provided below) and get adventurous with your toppings.

The recipe below is for pesto pizza. Traditionally made without red sauce, pesto pizza is deliciously light and flavorful. After harvesting my basil plants this summer and making numerous batches of pesto, I was fortunate to have some homemade pesto from my garden to use on this pizza.

Stone-Baked Pesto and Black Olive Pizza
Serves: 2

Pizza crust:
1 ¾ cups bread flour
1 tsp. instant yeast
2/3 cup water
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt

1/3 cup pesto (homemade or store bought)
¼ cup black olives, sliced
½ tomato, chopped
¼ cup mozzarella cheese

To make the dough:
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the bread flour and instant yeast. Add the water and olive oil and stir until combined. Add the salt and mix until coarsely textured dough forms.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for 8-10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 1-2 hours or until the dough has doubled in bulk.

To make the pizza:
  1. Place the baking stone on the middle rack in the oven and preheat it to 400 degrees.
  2. After the dough has doubled in bulk, degas it by punching it down gently. Use your fingers to spread the dough out into a 14” disk. Place on an upside down baking sheet covered with a piece of parchment paper.
  3. Spread the pesto over the dough and top with black olives, chopped tomato, and mozzarella cheese.
  4. Slide the parchment paper and the pizza onto the hot stone and bake for 18-25 minutes or until the crust turns a golden brown and the filling it bubbly. Enjoy!

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