Margherita Pizza

Standard

A few weeks ago I took some advice from my good friend Nelson and purchased a pizza/baking stone.  He told me that it bakes cookies really well (the crispy outside with a nice soft center) so I went to Williams Sonoma and bought the square-shaped stone.  The sales associate told me that I was making a great purchase and even gave me tips on how to use it and what to bake on it.

The baking stones are very porous and if you wash it you shouldn’t use soap because the soap will be absorbed and everything you bake after that will taste like soap.  Once I got it home I just rinsed it off with warm water and then put it in the pantry.  I really liked the idea of baking cookies on it but I wanted to break it in by making a pizza.  The easiest pizza to make is the Margherita pizza.  Whole Foods sells balls of frozen already made whole wheat pizza dough for $1.69.  I know that making your own dough is part of the process of making homemade pizza, but I don’t have time for that and also it’s very messy and it’s easier to buy it for less than $2 and defrost it when you are ready to use it.

My first attempt at making pizza was a fail.  It came out edible but I made a few mistakes and it wasn’t blog worthy.  The first mistake I made was that I did not have the baking stone at the very bottom of the oven.  The second mistake is that I didn’t allow the stone to get hot enough; you should heat the stone in the oven at 500° F for AT LEAST 30 minutes before baking anything on it.  The third mistake is that I put too much marinara sauce on the unbaked pizza and it was kind of watery when it was done.  Finally the last mistake is that I followed what I read in cook books and websites and I used cornmeal to transfer the pizza to the stone; huge mistake!  It burned up as soon as it hit the hot stone and my kitchen was very smokey and smelled like burned popcorn.

Now that I had a handle on how to work with this baking stone I decided to attempt to make the same pizza again.  I fixed my mistakes; I put the stone on the very bottom rack in the oven, I put very little marinara sauce on the top, and I let the stone heat up for a while before I baked the pizza.  I was very proud of my results and I can’t wait to make another pizza with different ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 1 ball of dough ( make it yourself or buy it at your local grocery store or pizzeria)
  • flour, for shaping the dough
  • 1/4 cup marinara sauce
  • 1 ball of fresh mozzarella, cut into strips
  • 5-6 fresh basil leaves

Use a flat surface like a large cutting board or a cookie sheet and spread enough flour to cover the surface. Roll out the dough into a round circle about the size of a dinner plate.

Spread a thin layer of the marinara sauce on the top of the rolled out dough.

Put the basil leaves and strips of mozzarella cheese on next. I sprinkled a little bit of red pepper flakes on top but that is completely optional.

Carefully slide the pizza from the baking sheet to the stone in the oven.

Bake for about 10-12 minutes; when the crust becomes bubbly and golden brown and the cheese is completely melted.

When the crust is golden brown like this, remove pizza from the oven.

Let pizza cool on a cutting board for about 5 minutes. Cut into reasonable slices and serve.

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