Caramelized tomatoes, onions and mushrooms atop a Napoli-inspired pizza dough. This one hits all the right notes!
Rustic Farmhouse Pizza
2 heaped teaspoons (7g) dry active yeast
1 cup water (237 ml) at 105°F (41°C)
3 cups (360 g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp sea salt
1 T extra virgin olive oil
Put yeast into the bowl of a stand mixer. Pour in a 1/4 cup of the water and mix. Let activate for approximately five minutes or until bubbles form.
Add flour, sugar and salt. Attach dough hook to mixer and begin mixing. Pour in remaining water and continue mixing. Depending upon the consistency, add a little more flour or water. Add in olive oil at the end.
Lightly grease a baking sheet. Form the dough into a smooth ball and place in the middle of the sheet.
Place a damp cloth over the dough and place sheet in warm area allowing the dough to double in size; approximately one hour.
Flour a working surface. Cut dough in half, producing enough dough for two pizzas. Work both pieces of dough into ball shapes. Once in a ball shape, fold in all the seams and smooth out the form.
Place both dough balls back on baking sheet and again cover with a damp towel. Allow to rest again for another 60 to 90 minutes, if using immediately. If making the dough in advance, place in the refrigerator until ready to use-up to 3-4 days. When needed, dough should be removed from the refrigerator approximately 90 minutes before use to come to room temperature.
Pizza Sauce (or use a jarred favorite)
4 cloves fresh garlic-thinly sliced and mince if preferred
1 fresh red Fresno chili pepper, thinly sliced starting at the bottom and working up until seeds are reached, then mince if desired
14 oz. can (400 g) San Marzano tomatoes
Fresh basil leaves
Extra virgin olive oil
In a saucepan on medium heat, add a layer of oil on the bottom. Once the oil is hot, add chili and garlic and saute until the garlic turns light brown. Add the tomatoes and basil and stir with a wooden spoon. Reduce to low and simmer the sauce for 20 minutes. Salt to taste, allow to cool (or refrigerate if you’re making the pizza later).
If a chunky style sauce is preferred, leave ingredients alone or process slightly with a potato masher. If a very smooth style sauce is preferred, puree using an immersion blender, or blender.
While you can always top pizza with fresh, uncooked veggies, you can take it to a whole new level by caramelizing them first. I often overbuy tomatoes (why be caught without enough?) and so for this, I sliced them up, tossed them with some oil, aged balsamic, a little garlic or pesto and baked them at 300°F (149°C) for an hour and a half. The house smelled amazing and it set the stage for some amazing pizza!
I also slow cooked some onions and mushrooms in two separate skillets on the stovetop. I added a few tablespoons of butter and oil to each and then let them cook on medium heat for a few minutes, lowering to medium low and stirring every few minutes until caramelized (about a half hour). (The mushrooms will be ready much sooner than the onions). The smell in your kitchen with the tomatoes and these aromatics will blow your mind!
Preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C) and place a pizza stone on the lowest oven rack. Allow stone to heat for about one hour. If your oven can reach 550°F (288°C) even better!
Flour a working surface and place one of the dough balls on it. Give each side a coating of flour. Push on the dough from the middle out to the ends-this moves all the air bubbles to the outer crust. Grasping one end, rotate the dough; the weight will shift and lengthen the dough.
A fun trick is placing the dough on top of your fists, then twist and rotate to continue working it. Finish working the dough with a rolling pin to create a nice even surface.
When you’re ready to start adding the toppings, sprinkle a pizza peel* generously with semolina or rice flour. This flour will act like ball bearings and help the pizza slide easily onto the pizza stone. It’s important you don’t wait more than a few minutes to add the toppings and get it in the oven at this point, because the semolina will incorporate into the dough otherwise. This leads to a big goopy mess when the pizza can’t slide properly! (Trust me on this).
*A pizza peel is flat shovel like tool used to slide pizza in and out of a hot oven which has a handle. If you don’t have one, a baking sheet turned upside down (you don’t want edges to impede the pizza’s journey into the oven) can work in a pinch.
Ladle some cooled pizza sauce into the middle of the dough. (Adjust the amount to your liking). With the back of the ladle or a spoon work the sauce out to half inch of the dough edge in a circular motion.
Add grated or thinly sliced fresh mozzarella cheese to your preference to within a half inch of the edge.
Top with the caramelized veggies. (You can add fresh basil leaves and a sprinkling of grated Parmesan here too).
Test the slideability of the pizza by giving the peel a quick wrist flick. If it moves, it will slide easily onto the pizza stone. If not, lift the pizza edges and add more semolina flour underneath.
Bake for 8-10 minutes. Allow it to rest a few minutes before slicing it or the cheese will be unwieldy!
Dough recipe by Chef Ben Robinson