Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day is filled with easy-peasy recipes to inspire our weeknight cooking. Take this Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza. Doesn't a slice of that after a day of running hither and yon sound just heavenly?
Many of us realized long ago that the no-knead dough that we were using to make homemade sandwich bread and artisan boules also makes some of the best pizza ever. Besides being easy to make, the high-moisture dough comes very close to making the super-crispy crust and chewy crumb that we often covet when eating fancy wood-fired artisan pizzas.
Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day takes what we already knew was a good thing and goes even further. Besides their master recipe (a riff on their original master recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day), the authors have provided a baker's dozen of other base recipes for our pizzas and flatbreaads. These include the Cornmeal Olive Oil Crust in the recipe below as well as other versions with whole grains, gluten-free flours, and sweet ingredients.
They describe how to make the pizzas in an oven or on a grill, with a baking stone and without. They explain how you can freeze pizza rounds for even quicker weeknight meals and describe about how many toppings can be piled on a crust of any given thickness before it gets soggy. In short, these guys have an answer for every niggling question or concern you've ever had when heading into the kitchen to make pizza.
The real strength of the book is in the page after page of inspiring recipes. No chance of getting into a pizza rut here! The recipes run the gamut from the familiar pizzeria menu items to ones that draw on the culinary traditions of the Middle East, India, Scandinavia, and others. I can't wait to try this Deep-Dish Pizza. I also have my sights set on the Turkish Chicken-Stuffed Pita Boats, a Curried Sweet Potato, Lentil, and Arugula Pizza, and a recipe for fruit-filled hand pies made with a sweet dough.
This book on quick pizzas joins Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and Healthy Breads in Five Minutes a Day on the kitchen shelf. Next time I'm looking for a quick meal with some new flavors and ingredients, this is where I will look.
• Buy the Book! Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François, $16 on Amazon
There's no question that deep- dish pizza was invented in Chicago, although there is some dispute over which pizzeria came up with it first. The pizza varies around Chicago, but for all, the crust is remarkable for its tender, almost buttery flavor and its luscious golden color, courtesy of cornmeal. Baking the pizza in a butter- coated cake pan fries the outside edge and makes for a crispy crust.
3/4 pound (large orange-size portion) Cornmeal Olive Oil Dough (recipe follows)
4 large Italian sausages (about 3/4 pound), cooked and broken into small pieces
11/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup thick tomato sauce
Butter for the pan
Cornmeal for the pan
1. Prepare and measure all toppings in advance.
2. Preheat oven to 500°F. Generously butter an 8 x 2- inch spring- form cake pan and coat with cornmeal. Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 3/4- pound (large orange- size) piece. Dust with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter- turn as you go (if making individual pies, divide the dough into 4 pieces and shape into balls).
3. Roll out and stretch the pizza crust: Flatten the dough with your hands and a rolling pin on a work surface to produce a 1/8- inch- thick round. Dust with flour to keep the dough from sticking to the surface. Use a dough scraper to unstick the dough as needed. Transfer to the cake pan. The dough should hang over the edge of the pan, which will prevent it from "slouching" while you fill it
4. Add the fillings: Mix together the sausage and two-thirds of the cheese in a bowl. Spread the meat mixture onto the dough, then top with the sauce and the remaining cheese. Trim the overhanging dough with kitchen shears so there is about 1/2 inch of dough that will flop down over the filling.
5. Slide the pizza into the preheated oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 400°F. Check for doneness in about 45 minutes (20 minutes for the individual pizzas). The pizza should be bubbling and the cheese evenly melted.
6. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes, preferably on a wire cooling rack. This allows the filling to set slightly before removing from the pan and slicing. When cooled, cut into wedges and serve.
Cornmeal Olive Oil Dough
2 3/4 cups (1 lb 6 oz/625 g) lukewarm water
1 tablespoon (.35 oz/10 g) granulated yeast
1-1 1/2 tablespoons (.63-.94 oz/17-25 g) kosher salt
3 tablespoons sugar, honey, malt powder, or agave syrup
3/4 cup (6 oz/165 g) olive oil
6 cups (1 lb 14 oz/850 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (4 oz/125 g) yellow cornmeal
1. Mixing and storing the dough: Mix the yeast, salt, and sweetener with the water and oilve oil in a 5-quart bowl, or a lidded (not airtight) food container.
2. Mix in the remaining dry ingredients without kneading, using a spoon, a 14-cup capacity food processor (with dough attachment), or a heavy-duty stand mixer (with paddle). If you're not using a machine, you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour.
3. Cover (not airtight), and allow it to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and ncollapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.
4. The dough can be used immediately after its initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate it in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 10 days. Or store the dough for up to 3 weeks in the freezer in 1/2-pound portions. When using frozen dough, tahw it in the refrigerator overnight before use.
5. On pizza or flatbread day, roll out or stretch the dough into a round and finish with your favorite toppings, using any of the recipes in this book.
(Images and recipe text used with permission from Thomas Dunne Books. Text copyright © 2011 by Jeff hertzberg and Zoë François. Photography copyright © 2012 by Mark Luinenburg)