Kailing's Italian-Style Pizza

This is a regular favorite in the Kailing household! We do it vegan, vegetarian, or with meat – depends on what’s in the fridge.

Because it takes 3 1/2 to 4 hours to prepare, bake and serve – the recipe makes enough for two pizzas – I freeze half and then we can have a quick pizza dinner the next go ‘round.

And because I have yet to figure out how to get the dough to slide off the baking sheet after I’ve got all the toppings on, I just bake it on sheet for the first 10 minutes. Then I use a spatula to lift the pizza off the sheet and slide it onto the pizza stone for the last 4 minutes. Works great!

Pizza Dough
Starter
2 tsp yeast
1/4 C warm water
3/4 C unbleached organic white flour – we love Fairhaven Organic Flour Mill’s unbleached white flour

Dissolve yeast in 1/4 C warm water and allow it to stand for 10 minutes. Add 3/4 C unbleached white flour and mix until the flour is absorbed – I find I have to add a little more water to make it possible to actually stir the starter.

Cover the starter and let it remain at room temperature for 1 hour.

Dough
7/8 – 1 1/4 C water
2 1/4 C unbleached organic white flour
1 tsp salt

Note: Using 7/8 C water will result in a less wet or soft dough; a dough which is easier to work with. Using 1 1/4 C of water will result in a very wet dough. Wet dough is much harder to work with but results in a crust much more like that in Italy. (I use about 1 C of water.)

Mix the salt and the flour. Add the water to the starter and stir to blend slightly. Add the flour/salt mixture and mix the ingredients into a soft dough.

Knead the dough until it is soft and elastic – at least 8 minutes. You may need to add sprinkles of flour to the dough to keep it from sticking.

Put the dough into a large bowl oiled with olive oil. Cover and put it in a draft-free location to rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until doubled in size. (I put the covered bowl in the microwave to rise – just don’t turn it on!)

When the dough has doubled, pull the ball out of the bowl and knead for a minute or two on a lightly floured counter top.

Divide the ball into two equal parts, put one in a plastic bag and freeze for up to 2 months.

Preparation
Place the ball of dough on the cooking sheet you will be using to bake it (I have one of those “insulated” ones that won’t burn cookies). Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the pizza dough into a circle roughly the size of the pizza stone.

Drizzle about 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the dough; spread it with your hand to cover the entire surface with a thin layer of oil. The oil coats the dough, making it impermeable to water and prevents it from becoming soggy. The oil also heats quickly and helps to cook the toppings.

Spread a thin layer of pizza sauce over the pizza dough. (Make your own from Roma tomatoes; they have so much more “meat” and flavor. We also add lots of garlic, oregano, and onions from the garden. If you have fresh basil, it gives the sauce a really nice flavor. And a “dollop” of red wine, of course!) The sauce should be thin enough to see the dough underneath where the spoon is used to spread the sauce. Too much sauce and the crust will be soggy.

Toppings should be thinly sliced and should not cover the edge of the pizza base.

Put a pizza stone on the middle shelf of the oven; use the lower shelf to bake the pizza on the cookie sheet.

Set oven at 500° and allow the oven to preheat for 30 minutes with the stone in the oven.

Bake 10 minutes on the cookie sheet.

Using a spatula, lift the pizza from the cookie sheet until it is loose.

Do not remove the pizza stone from the oven, slip the pizza onto the stone and bake 4 more minutes.

Suggested toppings:

  • 1/2 to 1 C grated cheese – include at least !/4 C of Romano or Parmesan cheese for flavor. Or if you prefer vegan – use mozzarella-style soy “cheese.”
  • Clean and thinly slice about 6 small/medium mushrooms. Spread the mushrooms at random over the grated cheese.
  • Cut 1/3 to 1/2 small green pepper and 1/4 to 1/3 medium red pepper into rings or slices and spread at random between the cheese and mushrooms
  • Chop onions into small cubes – need a couple of tablespoons, sprinkle over pizza
  • Chop black olives into small cubes – need a couple of tablespoons, sprinkle over pizza
  • Chop a handful of cilantro into small pieces – sprinkle over the top of the pizza.
  • Slice one cooked sausage link into 1/8 inch slices – arrange at random over the top of the pizza.

Best if you don’t stack up too many vegetables on top of each other, try to keep them all in one layer because the pizza will cook better if they are cut thin and spread thinly over the cheese.

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