That’s Amore

“When the moon meets the sky, like a big pizza pie, that’s amore.”

I made pizza the other night and I can’t help thinking of the song that Dean Martin made famous.

For pizza dough, I followed the recipe in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Any recipe will do really. What I like about this book’s approach is that you throw together the ingredients for the dough in advance and let it sit in the refrigerator until you need it — up to two weeks. I made the dough in the morning and let it sit out for a few hours and then put it in the refrigerator until I was ready to make pizza. Thus, you can think of making pizza as a two-step process, and since one step can done in advance, the actual making of pizza takes less than half an hour.

This dough had about two cups of whole wheat flour, about 1/3 of the total. I rolled it out to about a ten-inch pie.

I used a jar of tomato sauce that I canned last fall, which with a little salt and oregano had a nice consistency. I added a few toppings such as mushrooms and onions, then topped it with mozzarella cheese. I preheated the oven for twenty minutes to as high as it would go — over 500 degrees. Inside was a pizza stone and I was ready to bake a pizza.

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About eight minutes later, my pizza was done. The crust was firm and bumpy, having risen during baking. The biggest problem with homemade pizza is a soggy center portion of crust, caused by too much sauce or a crust that’s too thin. This crust was somewhere between thin and thick.

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I placed the pizza in the oven and pulled it out using a “pizza peel”, a flat surface connected to a long handle. I bought a pizza peel because when I was baking bread, I had trouble transferring the dough from a bread board to the baking stone. If you don’t get the dough off the board cleanly, it folds in on itself, and collapses. It’s not a fatal problem but the loaf suffers.

Last weekend, I went to a kitchen store to look for a pizza peel and I struck up a conversation with an older woman who recommended a metal pizza peel over a wooden one. It’s much lighter, she said. She also told me to use a lot of cornmeal on the peel to prevent sticking. I wasn’t using enough. She said that she was baking bread and making pizza using this great new book, “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.” “So am I,” I said proudly, as excited as she was. (Moments like these are rare in shops, but you don’t get them at all shopping online.)

Here’s a half-white, half-wheat loaf that I baked, a six-inch free form round from 1 pound of dough.

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