When I was little, at one point we lived in a house where the heat would go out sometimes. My mom would start up the oven in the mornings to warm the kitchen up and we would all run in there to get dressed around the open door. It’s weird that things like that can be really good memories, but they are. Those mornings, which might have been very stressful had I been an adult, were fun and sort of exciting to me as a child. My mom might remember them differently, but that was what they were to me – fun, cozy, and all of us together.
I don’t have the same need to warm the house up with the oven, but it does make things nice and cozy during the winter months. We’ve had a few “warm” days here (meaning 30′s F or around 0 C), but this afternoon, the temperature dipped back down just a little and we are getting some snow now. That little bit of wetness in the air makes it feel colder than it is. So I thought today would be the perfect day to try out my new pizza stone!
Back before Christmas, Ken and I went to a crafts fair in Okotoks. It was…disappointing. To say the least. But, there was one booth we kept coming back to. It was a woodcrafter from here in Alberta. You can see some of his work here on his website: Serrano Studios. We loved this pizza serving tray and cutter, so we bought them both, thinking we’d get a stone and start making our own pizzas.
So, today, I decided to give it a shot. For the dough, I basically followed the recipe from the instructions that came with the stone. I added some dried Italian herbs, as well as some salt and pepper to the dough.
For toppings, I used basil pesto (I’m not a huge tomato sauce fan) and spread it fairly thinly over the dough. Then I sliced some red onions and tomatoes, spooned on some ricotta cheese, and sprinkled some pancetta over the whole pie.
We bought some mozzarella at the farmer’s market on Sunday, but, unfortunately, this was the first time I was disappointed with something I bought there. The cheese tasted funny and had a really sharp finish, so I decided not to use it. We had some nice, mild, white cheddar, so I used that instead. It turned out to be a good choice, too.
After baking for 15 minutes, here is the finished pie!
It was soooo good!
Here is the basic recipe if you’d like to give it a try:
- 1 Tbsp. yeast
- 1/4 cup warm water (110 F)
- 2 1/2 cups flour (I used a GF mix of rice flour, potato starch, and tapioca flour along with a tsp. of xanthan gum – for proportions, see this comment below.)
- 1 tsp. salt
- olive oil
- dried herbs of your choice – I used italian herbs, but oregano or rosemary would be great, too
Add the warm water to the yeast and let it stand until it dissolves and foams, about 5 minutes.
Mix the flour, salt, and herbs (as well as xanthan gum if using gf flour) in a large bowl and then add the yeast mixture. Stir until dough forms. Add more water if necessary to form the dough into a ball. When the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, turn it out onto a floured surface. Knead for a few minutes and form into a ball (if the dough is sticky, you can add flour in small amounts – it should not stick to your hands). Put it back into the bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Cover and set the bowl in a warm spot to let the dough rise. This will take around an hour or so.
Preheat the oven to 450 F. When the dough has doubled, break off half, form it into a ball and flatten on a floured and corn mealed surface (preferably a pizza peel). You can use the other half to make a second pizza now, or wrap and put it into the fridge to use in a few days. Use your hands or a rolling pin to roll the dough out into about a 10 inch circle. Top as desired, sprinkle cornmeal on the preheated pizza stone and then slide the pie onto the stone using a pizza peel*. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Remove with a peel when the edges of your crust begin to brown. Enjoy!
*(Side note…because I didn’t have a peel, I used my pizza serving tray to slide the pizza onto the stone. I imagine a large plate would work pretty well, too. When I took it out, I used a large spatula to slide the pizza onto the tray, and it worked really easily.)