Homemade Pizza with Fresh Mozzarella

It's not so hard to make pizza! If you have a stand mixer and a pizza stone, you can make your own with minimal fuss. The fresh flavors of tomato, mozzarella and basil complement a rich red wine.

Servings: 4-8

Cook Time: 3 hours, including 2 hour rise time

Pair With: A rich red wine.

Source: Recipe and photo courtesy Tama Takahashi, Touring & Tasting Food Editor


Ingredients For the Dough:
1 pound, 1 ounce water at 105 degrees
.5 ounce active yeast
1 pound, 12 ounces bread flour
.5 ounce salt
.5 ounce sugar

Ingredients For the Pizza:
1 circle of pizza dough
1 1/2 cups tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced
1 cup fresh basil leaves, stems removed, cut into thin strips
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/8 cup olive oil, approximately


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window pane test for doughDirections For the Dough:
Put all the ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the bread hook, mix for 8 - 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic and can pass the "window pane" test. The "window pane" test is done by stretching a bit of dough to see if it tears apart (top photo--fails) or stays intact when stretched thin enough to see through it (like a window pane--passes). If the dough fails the test, continue kneading with the stand mixer or by hand until it is elastic enough to pass the test.

Put the dough in a deep, oiled bowl, cover the top with plastic and let rise in a warm place (75 degrees) for 2 hours.

window pane test for doughDirections For the Pizza:
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees with the pizza stone in it.

Stretch the dough out into a large round for the pizza. Easiest, if you don't know how to flip and spin, is to make a fist with one hand, drape the dough over it and use the other hand to stretch and shape the circle of dough. You can also roll it out on a lightly floured board, though the dough will tend to shrink back. If it gets to the point of resisting being stretched, let it rest for 10 minutes before continuing to roll it out.

Place the dough round on a piece of parchment on the back of a baking sheet or on a pizza peel, if you have one.

Mix the tomato paste with the salt, pepper, oregano and a bit of water so it is spreadable but still thick. Brush the mixture onto the pizza dough. Lay the Mozzarella slices on top, sprinkle with basil leaves, fresh ground pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Then, sprinkle on the Parmesan.

Slide the pizza into the oven, minimizing the time the oven door is open. If you have the pizza on the parchment paper on the back of a baking sheet, stick the pan in the oven all the way to the back--still holding onto the front side with an oven mitt. Give the pan a bit of a shake to get the far edge of the pizza and parchment to slide off the sheet onto the pizza stone, then quickly slide the sheet out of the oven.

Bake until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is melted.

Chef's Notes:

This dough recipe is adapted from the one we used in culinary school. Professional bakers use weight measuements, rather than volume, because they are more accurate.

A couple of tips to make great pizza:

1. Always use bread flour, not all-purpose, because you need the extra gluten for the chewiness of the crust and for the dough to pass the "window pane" test.

2. Use a pizza stone to cook on--or you can do what I do--which is to have two 13" x 14" kiln shelves on my oven rack. The 3/4" kiln shelves are made from high-fire clay and absorb and radiate heat evenly.

3. Make sure your oven is to temperature and the oven door is open for the least amount of time possible. You need to have the pizza go into the oven at the high temperature for the "oven rise" of the dough.