tomato basil pizza (for winter)

Martin came back! Hurray! It’s too bad that he only came for a few days and now has to head off to his next destination. While he was away enjoying English cuisine,  I tried to think of foods that he would miss at home. Fortunately for me, the bar was low. As long as I avoided fish and chips I could out-do London. I decided one of our favorite pizzas would be perfect, but with some modifications. We absolutely LOVE tomato basil pizza in the summer. Now that it’s cold and delicious tomatoes are nowhere to be found, I tried a homemade tomato sauce, with buffalo mozzarella and basil. I think we found our winter alternative for tomato basil pizza.

Also, if you were wondering, the name of this blog came about when making tomato basil pizza. However delicious the pizza would be the dough would always end up a little soft from all the watery ingredients. Martin would reassure me that the pizza was still amazing, but I’d always think it’s just too bad that I don’t have a professional brick oven that can reach 900 degrees. Alas, with my standard ol’ oven, I’ll always be 400 degrees from perfection…

Pizza Dough
Serves 3 (or 2 very full adults)

2 ¼ cups flour
1 ½ tsp salt
1 heaping tsp active dry yeast
¾ cup lukewarm water (may need 1-2 tablespoons more)
1 ½ tsp olive oil

Stir dry ingredients, including yeast, in a large bowl. Add water and olive oil, stirring mixture into as close to a ball as you can. Knead everything into a ball for about a minute or two. Lightly oil the bowl and turn the dough over to coat all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it for an hour or two until it has doubled in size.

Dump the dough out onto a floured surface and gently press the air out of the dough with the palm of your hands. Fold the dough into roughly a ball and let it sit under the plastic wrap for 20 more minutes.

Sprinkle a pizza stone or baking sheet with cornmeal and preheat your oven to its top temperature. Roll out the pizza, top with whatever toppings and seasonings you like. Bake for about 10 minutes.

Pizza Sauce

This is actually a tomato sauce to be eaten with pasta, but I liked how thick and textured it ends up being. Instead of a runny smooth sauce, I liked this thick and chunky sauce better for pizza. It’s also simple and doesn’t disrupt the simplicity of a traditional tomato basil pizza.

1 cup whole, peeled, canned plum tomatoes
2 ½ tbsp butter
½ of an onion
salt to taste
Combine the tomatoes, their juices, butter and onion half in a medium saucepan. Add a pinch or two of salt. Place over medium heat and bring to a stead simmer. Simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Break up large chunks of tomato with the back of a wooden spoon. Taste and salt as needed. Discard onion half before serving.

Recipe Notes: There ended up being a lot of notes, so I’ve divided them into categories for easier reading. Apologies for the dissertation on pizza.

1. Refrigerating pizza dough: I have read that if you plan to let pizza dough sit for a while it is best to refrigerate it, bring it to room temperature and then proceed. However, I have never had good luck with refrigerated pizza dough. I find that it is not as pliable and is harder to work with. Generally, I avoid refrigerating dough. If you’ve had better luck, please do share!

2. Pizza stones: I know that there are good stones out there, I just don’t have one. I’ve been fine with using a baking sheet, but I know the results will be better with a stone. My mother has a Pampered Chef baking stone which I love and hope to inherit. I’ve also heard of people using  anything from ceramic tiles on the floor of their oven, to the bottom of clay pots. I haven’t tried these methods, so I can’t really say how well they work. Again, your insights are welcome!

3.  Pre-baking the dough: This has become my work around. If I’m making pizza with very moist/wet toppings such as tomato basil, I usually pre-bake the dough on it’s own for about 5-7 minutes. I’ll take the dough out, add toppings and continue to bake for another 5-7 minutes or until it’s bubbling, melty and irresistible.

4. Tomato sauce: This tomato sauce has been raved about, and I was expecting… more. Don’t get me wrong, it was wonderful and perfect for this pizza. However, next time I’d add some garlic into the mix. I might also find higher quality canned tomatoes. Martin said the sauce tasted “earthy.” I have no idea what that means. He did however like it more than the store bought, overly sweetened variety.

5. Buffalo mozzarella: This is amazing! I know, it’s like $8.00 for a ball of cheese, but it is oh so good. It has a sharper flavor than… cow mozzarella, but is much softer and creamier. The sauce isn’t what shined in this pizza, it was the cheese. I’m pretty sure we’re going to go with buffalo mozzarella on our summer tomato basil pizzas as well. Also, I used the entire 8oz ball of mozzarella on the pizza.


2 thoughts on “tomato basil pizza (for winter)

  1. my friend basically kneads her pizza dough with olive oil instead of water. so, where you have 3/4th of a cup of water, she’d replace with oil. she’d use a small quantity of water in a separate bowl or cup to add the yeast to, then pour that into the dry ingredients for the dough. her pizzas turn out amazing! ive always used recipes that are more like yours, more water, less oil, but i gave hers a shot once and damn, the dough was moist beyond belief! pizza overall ends up being heavy but its totally worth it on occasion.

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