Two Crusts Are Better Than One – Stuffed Spinach Pizza

There is a pizza place here in town that has always had the best stuffed pizza I’ve ever had. It’s long been my favorite slice anywhere, and yet, I’ve never even attempted a stuffed pizza! This recipe is along the same lines as my local spot – not an exact match, but it gets us moving in the right direction – and I plan on trying this out soon. As always, photos and a review will follow soon.

Let me know how it works out for you. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 (1 pound) loaf frozen bread dough, thawed
  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup pizza sauce
  • 2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese

Directions

Place dough in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch dough down; divide into thirds. On a lightly floured surface, roll one portion of dough into a 10-in. circle. Transfer to a 9-in. springform pan coated with nonstick cooking spray. Press dough onto bottom and up sides of pan.

In a bowl, combine the spinach, mushrooms, onion, salt and pepper. Sprinkle half of the mozzarella cheese over crust. Cover with spinach mixture; sprinkle with remaining mozzarella. On a lightly floured surface, roll out a second portion of dough into a 10-in. circle; place over cheese layer. Pinch together top and bottom crust. (Save remaining dough for another use).

Bake at 400 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned. Spread pizza sauce over top crust; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake 5-6 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Let stand for 5 minutes before cutting.

Guy’s Crispy Deep-Fried Pizza

Guy Fieri of the Food Network brings us todays video in the form of do-it-yourself fair food: Deep-Fried Pizza! Now I know what you’re thinking, or at least I think I know, and just give it a chance. Check out this three minute video and look at what that final product looks like. It’s actually pretty tasty looking!

Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • Canola oil, for frying (amount determined by vessel used)
  • 1 recipe Perfect Pizza Dough, recipe follows
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup pizza sauce
  • 2 ounces whole pepperoni
  • 4 ounces mozzarella cheese, coarsely shredded
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 8 fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Directions

Preheat the oil to 365 degrees F. A deep-fryer is best, but if using a stove top method, fill a cast iron Dutch oven or heavy chicken fryer with oil about 4 inches deep.

Roll dough out and cut it in half. Stir the oregano and basil into the pizza sauce. Slice the pepperoni. Spread half of the pizza sauce on half of each side, of the dough, add the cheese and pepperoni, distributing evenly. Apply a thin line of the water to the edge of the dough and fold each over onto itself and press to seal.

Check the oil temperature and carefully add the pizza pockets. Cook for 2 minutes, turn over and cook for 1 minute more. Remove to a paper towel lined plate. Transfer the pizza to serving plates and garnish with remaining pizza sauce, Parmesan and fresh basil leaves.

Perfect Pizza Dough:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for bowl
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees F)

Combine all the dry ingredients in bowl of food processor or stand mixer. Or if by hand, combine in a medium bowl. Add the warm water to small glass bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Add oil and yeast mixture to dry ingredients and depending on method using, combine until a dough ball forms. For food processor, pulse on dough setting until dough is smooth and elastic. For stand mixer, slow speed until dough is smooth and elastic. For hand method, knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic. Form the dough into a ball. Lightly oil a large bowl, add the dough ball to it, cover tightly with plastic wrap or a well-floured tea towel, and set in a warm place or a 100 degree F oven until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch down, and let rest for 5 minutes. Divide the dough in half for 2 large pizzas or into 4 equal pieces for calzones or small individual pizzas. Roll the dough into 1/4-inch thick rounds. Cooks Note: Can be made ahead and also freezes well.

Yield: 2 large or 4 small pizzas or calzones

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Inactive Prep Time: 1 to 2 hours

Ease of preparation: Easy

This Curds for You – Making Fresh Mozzarella

So you know how you’ve been futzing over tiny changes in your pizza dough? Or maybe you’ve been looking for that certain something to brighten up your pizza sauce and because it might be a bit dull right now? Well forget that – you’ve stend plenty of time worrying about dough and sauce, but how many sleepless nights have you spent worrying about how fresh your cheese is?? My guess would be less than you would care to admit. Here are two mozzarella making videos that will get you started on a whole new level of “pizza obsession”… whatever that is.

Enjoy!

The Elusive Crispy Crust – Tips on Getting a Snap

Reader Aimee writes:

“So how about you tell me why my pizza won’t friggin’ get a crusty bottom!  It tends to be a wee bit on the floppy soggy side.  The top seems to cook the quickest. I tried drying my fresh mozz for a bit and using less sauce, didn’t work. Do you still use pans or do you use a stone now? I use a stone.”

Great questions Aimeee! I think this is probably a big issue for a lot of home chefs for many reasons. Let’s talk about some of them now.

  • Temperature – this is, of course, the obvious first tip to getting crispier results out of your pizza. Many recipes you see – maybe even some recipes on this very blog. Yikes! – will have you preheat the over to 400, 425, 450, something like that. ALWAYS DISREGARD this advice. Commercial pizza ovens operate in the neighborhood of 800 to 1100 degrees, so in order to get even remotely close to the pizza you know and love, you need to crank your oven up to the highest possible setting! For me, this means setting it to 550+. I saw “+” because my oven has a knob which allows me to select “bake” or “broiler” as well as a temperature dial which goes to 550 and then continues on to “broiler.” The double up in terms is a bit confusing, but I think what I’m doing what I set it to “bake” on the mode knob and “broiler” on the temperature knob, I’m asking the oven to try to keep the heating element on as long as it possibly can at the highest temp it possibly can. Goal achieved. Now, because you are running your oven hotter than before, hopefully more liquid will evaporate off your pie and out of your crust which will equal a crispier end product.
  • Preheat – Preheat your oven and let it sit at full temperature for at least 45 minutes to an hour before trying to bake in it. Especially if you are using a pizza stone, this will allow the stone to absorb all the heat it possibly can, as well as the sides of the oven, ensuring that you get the hottest bake out of your oven as possible. I know that my general theme on this blog is that time is the most secret of all ingredients and here it is again – don’t rush pizza, and as Alton Brown says, “your patience will be rewarded.”
  • Baking Stone – This is a big must for a crispy pizza crust. Again, commercial ovens have stone floors in them, not metal, so we can all take a tip from the pros and duplicate this scenario at home. Baking stones are beneficial for two main reasons:

    1) Baking stones absorb and store heat, so while your oven can only generate so much heat, the stone will store much of that heat and radiate it back out to the surrounding oven space. This will not only allow you to achieve temperature higher than what your oven would normally be capable of, but will also regulate heat loss when you open the oven to check on progress. In addition, it will also regulate how wide of a temperture swing occurs as your oven sycles the heating element on and off. Think even heat.

    2) Baking stones absorb water. They have small holes in the surface unlike metal baking pans, so they have the ability to capture and dissipate water. This is a good thing.

    The quick science behind a baking stone (or pizza stone – same thing) is as follows. The stone is both intensely hot and moderately porous. When the dough hits the stone, the water in the dough instantly wants to turn to steam and get the heck out of there, and since there are small air pockets in the stone, the steam has a space to move into. In essence, the stone both causes, and then absorbs, the steam trying to escape from the dough. Again, less moisture, more crispy. Soild petal pizza pans give the water nowhere to go, so the water is either retained in the dough, or must make its way to the surface of the pie before escaping.

  • Dry your ingredients – This may sound funny, but it really really helps out a lot. Especially when you are trying to make a pizza with a lot of fresh veggies! Vegetables and wet cheeses are notorious for releasing a ton of water once they hit the oven, so simply chop everything up before hand, lay it down on a kitchen towel, and fold the towel over so the water from the fresh cut veggies has somewhere to escape to before it hits your crust. I do this with my fresh mozzarella as well and I even take this theory a step further: One I’ve got everything sliced and drying in towels, I place the towels on top of the range where the radiant heat of the pre-heating oven moves up into the veggies and gives them a more thorough drying. Be careful with oven-drying the cheese though. I got a little careless last weekend with some cheese in a towl on the top of a hot oven and when I went to open up the towel, I found that I had glued it together very thoroughly with six dollars of nice fresh mozzarella! Never got that damn towel clean either!
  • Use less stuff – It is always tempting to over top your pizza, but here is a tip: don’t. In general, take whatever your natural instinct is for topping pizza is, and then consciously dial that bake 30%-40%. Pizza is a balancing act between bread, cheese, sauce and toppings, but zen philosophies aside, you’ll find that if you give everything a little breathing room, your cheese will stick to your crust better (no sliding off with the first bite), your pizzas will be crispier, and most importantly, you won’t be as full after eating a slice which means you can eat more! Who can argue against that??

Finally, let’s address one of Aimee’s specific problems she has had trying to combat the floppy soggy crust syndrome.

  • The top seems to cook the quickest – pay attention to how your oven cooks your pizzas and where you are putting your oven racks. If Aimee seems to always have an overcooked top, and an undercooked bottom, she should consider moving her pizza stone down to the next lowest baking rack. Even though we’re talking about the interior of a 550+ degree oven, the laws of thermodynaics still apply: heat rises. A too-quickly-cooked top means that her pizza is too high in her oven and the heat that pools at the top of it is cooking the top of the pizza faster than the bottom. To learn an oven, I would start the stone at the lowest possible rack setting, and then based on how the bottom of the crust turns out, I might move one or two spots up the next time around.

    Interesting technique: many home pizza chefs bake with their pizza stones as low in the oven as possible to get the stone as close to the heating element as possible, then, when they have checked the bottom and it is looking nice and crisp, they move the pie to their oven rack which has been positioned at the very highest spot in the oven to finish off the top. This gives you precise control over how done the bottom and top of the pie are when it finally comes out of the oven. I personally use this technique often, but if I could find that sweet spot in my oven where I didn’t need to do it, I wouldn’t

I hope this has been enlightening and helpful and I hope to see photos of reader Aimee’s improved crispy crusts real soon! Please submit any other questions you guys may have and I’ll answer as best I can. If there is any last tip I could leave you with, I would simply repeat myself in saying that time is the only secret ingredient. So many people are looking for quick eats and dinners in 30 minutes or less, but when compared to dinners that took you 3-4 days to prepare, they all start to taste like fast food!

Spend some time with your food.

Talk soon,

Ryan

Fixed!

Ok, I think I’ve actually, finally, probably, (maybe) fixed this damn thing which apparently broke about a week ago when I migrated from wordpress.com. Looks like most of the usual traffic had been blocked from finding me here for the better part of last week, but I think we’re up and running now! Here’s hoping. And here is a quick and easy video on white pizza.  And sure, Claire looks like she’d rather eat you than any sort of silly pizza, and sure she “LOVVES” store bought pizza dough, and… well, I guess suffice it to say I needed a video to test and make sure that the video embedding was all nice and happy. So do like I do, and watch this one with the sound off… and a hand held up in front of your faec so you can’t see her overly emotive face…. Oh what the hell, here it is – enjoy!

Breakfast Pizza and Test Dough

Tonight I was testing a new dough formula (think secret ingredients) and came up with a few simple combinations, and photos, that I hope get your mouth watering and your brain looking around this here blog for a good dough recipe to try out in your own kitchen. One was a simple pie with fresh tomato, provolone, and parmesan. The other was a breakfast pie with my breakfast potatoes from this morning, two raw eggs, ricotta, parmesan, and white truffle oil. There were both fabulous, and we all agreed that the secret ingredient was promising to boot! Here’s to inspiration!

-Ryan

A New Home – InSearchOfThePerfectPie.com

Hi Ya’ll,

I’ve moved the blog’s hosting to my own server at RyanSanders.org, so now I’ll have more freedom to install plugins, customize the site site’s functionality, and generally post and host more stuff. I’m hoping that I’ve done it in a way that you won’t notice a difference, but if something doesn’t look right or seems to be acting funny, drop me a note and let me know.

Here’s hoping it goes smoothly..

Thanks!

-Ryan

Published in: on October 19, 2010 at 2:27 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A Recent Thin Cracker Crust Success

Published in: on August 31, 2010 at 7:46 pm  Comments (2)  
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New Pizza Flours from Central Milling

Hello. Have I extolled the virtues of contacting and subsequently ordering fabulous flour from Nick over at Central Milling lately? Well let me tell you, I just received four bags of his latest and greatest “00” flour – two bags reinforced, two bags normal – and can’t wait to get started putting it through the pizza paces. I’ll let you know as soon as I’ve completed a few test pies, until then, how about to email him and order some of your own?

Talk soon,
Ryan

Oven Dried Tomatoes – Your New Favorite

There was a great, quick little article about oven drying tomatoes in Food & Wine magazine recently, so I decided to go ahead and give it a try. The product is an awesome dried tomato that is much less tough and ‘raisiny’ than sundried tomatoes – and they make GREAT pizza toppings! They are soft and easy to bite through while remaining sweet and carmelized tasting. The best of both worlds! Try this recipe out today and you’ll agree, oven dried tomatoes are your new favorite 🙂

Update: The tomatoes made a guest appearance in a recent video.

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 pounds firm but ripe plum tomatoes, cored and halved lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for packing
  • 2 heads of garlic, cloves separated but not peeled
  • 12 large thyme sprigs
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 325° and position 2 racks just above and just below the middle of the oven. Working over a medium bowl, pry the seeds and pulp out of the tomatoes and discard. Pour 1/4 cup of the olive oil onto each of 2 very sturdy, rimmed, light-colored baking sheets. Arrange the tomatoes cut side down on the baking sheets and scatter the garlic and thyme all around. Make a tiny slit on each tomato.
  2. Bake the tomatoes for about 45 minutes, until the skins begin to wrinkle. Shift the pans from top to bottom halfway through. Carefully pinch off the skins. Flip each tomato and bake until the surface looks dry, about 1 hour. Flip the tomatoes again and continue baking until the surfaces look dry but the tomatoes are still slightly plump, about 2 hours longer. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper and let cool completely.
  3. Discard the thyme sprigs and peel the garlic cloves. Layer the tomatoes with the garlic in five 1/2-pint jars. Add enough olive oil to cover the tomatoes by at least 1 inch. Slide the blade of a knife along the side of each jar to release any air bubbles. Seal the jars and refrigerate for up to 2 months or freeze for up to 6 months.