The Central Texas mid-summer heat has done in many of our local tomato plants. I’m still finding romas and smaller types at the farmers markets. These are perfect for slow-roasting in the toaster oven. I line my baking pan with a sheet of parchment and toss in the tomatoes, halved lengthwise. I give ’em a healthy drizzle of olive oil, a pinch each of dried oregano, dried basil, dried thyme, small pinch of ground coriander and a tiny pinch of ground fennel plus lots (you decide) of black pepper. Stir them around and align them cut-side up. Now they’re ready for your 300º oven, where they’ll bask for an hour and a half or so, til they’re as done as you want. These sweet gems are just right for pizzazzing your pizza. Here’s how I usually make mine.
PIZZA yields 1 thicker-crusted or 2 thinner-crusted pies
- scant 1 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano or Italian herb blend
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon turbinado sugar or honey
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 300 grams flour–I usually use about 160 grams kamut and 140 grams bread flour or all-purpose flour. This is approximately 2 1/2 cups total flour.
- 1 teaspoon instant (bread machine or rapid-rise) yeast
Place the ingredients into your bread machine in the order listed, unless your machine directs otherwise, and program it for the “dough” cycle. Making pizza at home in the summer uses a lot of energy (unless your forno is out back) with all the heatin’ up and requisite coolin’ down you gotta do. But at least you can put your bread machine outside. If you’re up for grilling your pie, check out Fine Cooking magazine’s helpful video instructions for grilled pizza.
My bread machine’s dough cycle runs 2 hours, so when about 30 minutes remain I heat my oven to 400º for a thick pizza or 425º for thin ones. I use a pizza stone (make sure it’s in the oven now!) and of course they’re frequently available at the thrift stores for a bargain price.
For a thicker crust, I use a 12″ X 1 1/4″ round pan and for thinner crusts I use a mismatched set of 10″ and 12″ very shallow round pizza pans. There’s no reason you can’t use squares or rectangles if that’s what you have. I line the pans with parchment paper and oil them up very well with olive oil. When your dough is ready, use liberally oiled hands to remove the dough and place it onto your pan(s). Give the dough a minute to rest and then you can start gently stretching it to fit your pan. If the dough resists your efforts, give it a respite to relax. It’ll loosen up. Once your dough is stretched, top it how you please. Just don’t overload your pizza or the crust will sag with sog.
My pizza toppings vary with the season, my larder and my whims. Lately I’ve spread them with homemade arugula pesto, minced garlic-stuffed Texas green olives, shredded Full Quiver Farms mozzarella or any of our many fine local goat cheeses, grated pecorino romano and sliced local sweet onions tossed w/ olive oil. A sprinkling of dried oregano, black pepper and crushed red peppers zests it up. After 20 minutes (10 minutes for the thinner crust) I remove the pizza from the oven, top it with some roasted tomatoes (coarsely chopped or not), take it out of the pan and place it directly on the baking stone. I raise the oven heat to 425º if it’s not there already. For the crispin’, the thicker pizza may take around 10 minutes and the thinner around 8. Remove to a cooling rack and don’t burn yourself!