Jill Erber of Cheesetique in Del Ray suggests slicing the cheese beforehand and wrapping it in plastic wrap for an hour or so to remove some of its moisture; too much moisture on a pie can make for a soggy center.
When dressing the pies, go easy on the toppings. Think of them more as a glaze of ingredients rather than as the cheesy gooey-ness of a commercial pizza.
This recipe makes 2 rounds of dough, one of which can be wrapped well and frozen or kept at hand if a do-over is needed.
Yield: Makes two crusts and topping for one 10-inch pie (1 generous serving)
- For the dough
- 2 cups flour, preferably 00 (see TIP), plus more for the work surface
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, for the bowls
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 to 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
- Pinch salt
- Cornmeal, for dusting the baking surface
- For the cheese topping
- 1/3 cup Italian fontina cheese, cut into small cubes
- 1/3 cup mozzarella cheese
- 1/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, thinly sliced with a vegetable peeler
- For the red sauce
- 1/4 cup canned diced tomatoes, drained
- 1 to 3 medium roasted cloves garlic (see NOTE)
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano or italian seasoning
- Olive oil, for drizzling
For the dough: Lightly flour a work surface; use 1 tablespoon of oil to grease the inside of each of 2 medium mixing bowls.
Heat the water in a microwave oven on HIGH for 30 to 45 seconds, until it is tepid (about 100 degrees). Add the honey and yeast; use a whisk to mix thoroughly. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes, until it is frothy.
Combine the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor. With the motor running, slowly pour in the water-yeast mix until a slightly wet ball of dough forms. Transfer to the prepared work surface and knead for 10 minutes on a floured surface. The dough should gain elasticity as it is worked.
Divide the dough in half, forming 2 equal balls. Place a ball in each oiled bowl and turn until it is well coated. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean, dry dish towel. Let the dough rise for about 1 hour at room temperature. (At this point, 1 ball of dough can be refrigerated, well covered, for a day or two, or wrapped well in plastic wrap and a heavy-duty resealable plastic food storage bag and frozen for 2 weeks.)
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 500 degrees, preferably with rectangular pizza stones on the top and middle shelves; that can take 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Punch down the ball of dough and gradually press it out into a round about 10 inches in diameter. If you are using a pizza peel (paddle) to transfer the pie to the oven, sprinkle it liberally with cornmeal and transfer the round of dough to the peel.
For the cheese topping: Combine the cheeses in a medium bowl.
For the red sauce pie: Combine the diced, drained tomatoes and the roasted garlic in a small cup. Spread the mixture in a thin layer on the dough circle, followed by an even distribution of the cheese, then the crushed red pepper flakes to taste, then the herbs.
When ready to bake, drizzle a little olive oil over the toppings. Liberally sprinkle the middle-rack pizza stone with cornmeal (if not using a pizza peel). Transfer the pie to the middle-rack stone; bake for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve hot.
From Washington food writer Melissa McCart.
Tested by Jill Grisco.
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