Pesto Pizza

Last night I made a pretty kick-ass pesto pizza - California-style thin crust pesto with mozzarella and tomato. It was pretty easy, and there are some obvious ways I can make it better next time. I'm very excited about my future with pesto pizza.

** Before I begin, I must warn you that this post is intended for the serious Pete-za followers who are interested in playing along at home**
** Also, send in your Pete-za party photos and stories. I can make you a pizza blog superstar**

1. Pesto Pizza

Oftentimes, I inspire myself to do great things. I had made some brilliant pesto the other day using frozen basil leaves. It turned out so incredible, I had to use it on a pizza and blog about it.
Based on my years of pizza eating, I thought a thin crust would be most appropriate. I hadn't intentionally made thin crust before, so I picked up some tips from a recipe I found on the internet for a California-style thin crust, and combined these tips with the standard dough recipe I had written about previously.

1.1 Dough

There are 4 important deviations from my previous dough recipe to make the crust thin. (use a rolling pin, dust dough with flour while rolling it thin, "dock" the dough with a fork, and pre-cook the dough without toppings)

1.1.1 Combine 1/2 cup of warm water with 2 tsp yeast in a mixing bowl. Stir to prevent yeast from clumping. Let stand for 10 minutes. It should be foamy and cloudy.

1.1.2 Add olive oil, 1 cup of warm water, some salt, and beat in 2 cups of flour with a wisk. Ideally, you should use a high gluten flour (bread flour). I used all-purpose flour, since it was what I had on hand, but will try to keep bread flour on hand.

1.1.3 Switch to a wooden spoon , and add flour 1/2 cup at a time and mix. Keep adding flour until dough forms a ball, but is still moist and shaggy.

1.1.4 Cover bowl with Saran Wrap; let stand for 15 minutes.

1.1.5 Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth, adding flour to keep from sticking to your fingers. The dough should still be moist.

1.1.6 Put the dough in a bowl that has been coated with olive oil. Turn the dough over to make sure all sides are coated with olive oil.

1.1.7 Cover again and put the bowl in a warm place and let it rise for an hour. It should double in size. Ideally, the dough should rise slowly over a 24 hr period in the refrigerator. However, I'm not so good at planning ahead.

*Pre-heat oven to 500 degrees*

1.1.8 Return the dough to the floured surface and knead until smooth. Dust the dough and rolling pin with flour. Roll the dough out flat, making sure to continuously dust the dough and counter with flour. Flip the dough over several times. Thin-crust pizza dough should be somewhat dry and dense. You will need to dust the dough with flour several times as you roll it out in order to incorporate more flour into the recipe. This also helps ensure that the dough will not stick to the countertop and your rolling pin.

1.1.9 Carefully place the dough onto a pizza pan, making sure to cut off excess dough. I screwed this part up my first time. The dough fell apart, and I had to ball it up and start again. My second attempt was a success.

1.1.10 Using a fork, prick the dough thoroughly. This prevents the dough from bubbling up. This is called 'docking' and there is actually a 'docker' tool you can use, but a fork works just fine.

1.1.11 Place the dough in the pre-heated oven for 4 minutes. This prevents the ingredients from weighing down the dough before it can crisp.

1.1.12 Add toppings and return to oven for 12 minutes, or however long it take to get good and crisp, but not too crisp.

1.2 Pesto

Using a large food processor, I processed the following ingredients. I have no idea about the quantities. I continuously tasted the outcome and adjusted the ingredients accordingly.
  • Basil
  • Olive Oil
  • a couple handfuls of Walnuts
  • misc. mixed greens
  • Parmesan
  • salt and pepper
  • garlic
  • lemon
frozen basil looks really gross, but it's packed with flavor

It should also be noted that I used top-shelf fresh mozzarella from Zingerman's Deli in Ann Arbor. I firmly believe that if you're going to splurge on one ingredient it should be fresh mozzarella.



-From special guest pizza bloggers, Lena and Joanna-

On February 11, 2008, a revolutionary declared from a kitchen in Chicago: "It is my firm belief that the current economic crisis in America can be attributed to the low-quality, high-price, corporate lobbyist pizza crooks who prevent millions of Americans from eating high quality, affordable, healthy pizzas every day. Frozen pizzas in supermarkets, and chain pizza restaurants are ruining America."

This crisis has not been manifested more perfectly or grotesquely than in the pizza roll.

Americans, it is time to stop buying these machine-made, artificial grease-and-sauce turds with your credit cards. The ingredients are in your cabinets. They are in your local market. The labor is in your hands. The knowledge, on this blog:


We began with Pete-za's recipe for homemade pizza dough

We kneaded the dough as instructed, but instead of flattening out one big dough ball, we separated it into mini dough balls and flattened them into thinner, mini crusts.

This step presented our first obstacle. Mini dough does not flatten well into rectangular shapes. Pizza rolls are rectangles, we thought. This isn't right. But then, we realized: THEIR pizza rolls are rectangles. We moved on.

Once our nascent rolls were flattened, we covered them with sauce. About an hour earlier, we had softened diced baby portabella mushrooms, diced red pepper, and chopped garlic in some red wine that had been sitting on the counter for a couple months. (We predicted--and we believe accurately so--that these ingredients would not soften as well within a roll as they would in the open air of an extremely hot oven.) We combined these with pieces of chopped fresh mozzarella, salt, and freshly ground black pepper.

We folded each pizza package over once, sealing the edges with our thumbs, being careful not to allow sauce or toppings to hemorrhage onto the counter or ourselves.

At this step, it did not occur to us to seal the roll all the way around its perimeter, including the folded edge. We believe this would have yielded a more roll-like result, in contrast to the calzone-ish appearance of this first batch.

We transferred the rolls to a well-oiled pizza stone that had been covered in flour and cornmeal. With our oven preheated to 425 degrees, we set our timer for 14 minutes (an estimate). The bottom side of the rolls appeared to be well-baked in that amount of time, so we turned
each roll over for another 14 minutes in the oven.

The rolls were crisp and crusty on the outside while doughier toward the center, which one taster characterized as a "good mouth feel." The flavor of the red-wine softened veggies and garlic came through the higher crust ratio nicely. The fresh mozzarella, though thoroughly
melted as hoped, was overpowered by the breadiness of the roll's crusty shell.

Implications for Research and Practice
Further experimentation with stronger-flavored ingredients (more spices, fresh basil, more garlic, or pepperoni, for example) and a more powerful cheese (Parmesan would be a good choice) is certainly warranted. Overall, however, the homemade pizza roll was a triumphant
departure from Totinos and would serve as a delicious snack or meal, or even as an appetizer for your next local meeting of democratic pizza chefs.

In solidarity,
Lena and Joanna


Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Barack Obama D-Ill., takes a bite of pizza at American Dream Pizza in Corvallis, Ore., Friday, March 21, 2008. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Slice of ham and pineapple pizza tattooed on man's head. The Hawaiian Delight is one of my favorite pizzas as well.



I had a party...

...a deep dish pizza party.

The pizza was deemed insufficient.

I'll keep trying.

I promise.





up for sale

it's what i want for my birthday this year.

it'll cost us 2.6 million dollars