— Yogi Berra
by CHRISTINE GARDNER
You don't have to look far to find good pizza. East Texans love their pizza from many different places. When polled there were a variety of votes for places like Papa Murphy's, Mazzio's, Ken's, Papa John's, Cici's, Dino's, Tuscani, Pizza King in Longview, A.J.'s in Overton, O'Dell's in Winona and Sabor a Pasion and Giovanni's in Palestine.
But the hands-down favorite is Bruno's in Tyler. The results were overwhelming. Bruno's has two locations on Vine and Old Jacksonville Highway.
Going out for pizza is easy but the dilemma comes when we try to recreate our favorite restaurant pizza at home. The dough is not quite the same, sauces taste bland and the bottom of the crust never gets crispy.
There are some new products that make turning your oven or grill into a pizza oven an easy step. Pizza stones are now being made for the grill and are made differently than oven stones to withstand more heat.
“Ceramic pizza stones for kitchen ovens can only withstand temperatures up to 550 degrees. Because they are ceramic they can crack if stressed with too much heat,” said Pam Gabriel, owner of Sweet Gourmet in Tyler.
“The grill stones are made of cordierite and are the type of stone used to line commercial pizza ovens. They can withstand temps up to 1400 degrees. It is made up of minerals that are thermal shock resistant and won't crack under high temperatures. You can use them over direct flames which makes it perfect for outdoor grills,” she said.
Sweet Gourmet is carrying a new line of pizza stones, pizza cones and various pizza tools. They will be conducting a class on August 16 that explains how to turn your home oven or outdoor grill into a pizza oven.
They are also carrying frozen handmade pizza dough balls that are similar to restaurant dough. During the thawing process the dough rises and when brought to room temperature is ready to shape and bake for homemade pizza.
Tips for Tasty At-Home Pizza
Cheese First: In Italy they teach that the mozzarella should go on the pizza before the tomato sauce. Also fresh mozzarella cut into cubes will spread and melt more evenly than grated mozzarella.
Add Your Greens: Fresh basil, spinach and arugula are flavorful and healthy additions to your pizza. Add torn basil or arugula immediately after removal from the oven. The heat from the pizza wilts the leaves and helps release their flavorful oils into the pizza. Add spinach before baking. Tuck it under other toppings so the leaves stay moist and don't char.
Heat The Stone: Place the stone in the oven or on the grill while it is cold. Allow the temperature of the stone to rise with the oven. The result is a crispy crust that is ready at the same time as your toppings and cheese.
Well-Floured Surface: Sprinkle your work surface and dough with flour before you begin rolling it out. If you are making your own dough it should be soft, slightly sticky but not too dry. The flour will help with shaping and keep the dough from sticking to the rolling pin, your fingers and the work surface.
Press Don't Stretch: When shaping your dough, press the ball flat and then roll out with a rolling pin. Press out the edges. Do not lift the dough to try and stretch it or use your knuckles. Alternate pressing with fingertips and rolling out with the pin. If the dough begins to spring back or resists shaping let it rest for a few minutes.
Overworking the dough will make it tough.
Freeze Before Rising: When making a large batch of dough let the dough rest for 10 minutes after mixing then portion out into ten to twelve ounce balls. Freeze the balls you want to use later and only allow the dough you will be cooking immediately to rise.
Sauce Secrets: Hand crush whole tomatoes and simmer with onions, garlic and seasoning for an Italian-style pizza sauce. Another Italian secret – if you're using fresh tomatoes as a topping never use tomato sauce as a base. Mixing the two tomatoes is forbidden.
ITALIAN-STYLE PIZZA DOUGH
1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sea salt
Extra virgin olive oil for bowl
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, sprinkle yeast over 1 1/2 cups warm water (100º to 105º); let stand until yeast is creamy, 5 to 10 minutes. (If yeast does not become creamy, discard and start over with new yeast.) In a large bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Add to yeast mixture. Mix on low speed for 4 minutes or until dough forms a coarse ball. Let dough rest, with bowl covered with a damp kitchen towel, 5 minutes, then remove towel and knead on medium-low speed, 2 minutes more, or until dough clears sides of bowl. If dough is too soft and sticky to hold its shape, mix in more flour by the tablespoonful. If it is too stiff or dry, mix in more water by the tablespoonful. (If not using a mixer, dough can be combined in a large bowl and, on a lightly floured work surface, vigorously kneaded by hand, following kneading and resting times above). Lightly oil a large bowl. Form dough into a ball, transfer to bowl and turn to lightly coat with oil. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes, then refrigerate overnight. Punch down dough with your fist (dough will be stiff), then fold sides over one another, turn dough and return to bowl. Tightly cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours. Divide dough into 4 pieces; shape pieces into balls and place on a lightly floured work surface, leaving a few inches between balls. Loosely cover with a damp dishtowel (not terry cloth) and let rise at warm room temperature until doubled, about 2 hours; time may vary depending on room temperature and freshness of yeast. If skin forms on dough while rising, lightly spray surface with water.
Recipe from La Cucina Italiana
1 28 ounce can San Marzano whole tomatoes
1 24 ounce jar tomato puree
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, fine dice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon each dried oregano and basil
In a saucepan heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until soft. Add garlic and sauté for an additional minute. Place the can of whole tomatoes in a bowl with their juice. Using your hands crush and tear the whole tomatoes. Add to the sautéed onions and garlic. Add the tomato puree and other ingredients and stir to combine. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes while stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasonings. Allow to cool before assembling pizzas.
Recipe by Christine Gardner
2 cups, plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons warm water
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast
Assorted pizza toppings and cheese
Combine flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a mixing bowl. Add water and canola oil. Using the dough hook of an electric mixer, mix on low speed for one to two minutes, or until dough comes together. Increase speed to medium-high and continue to mix for another four to six minutes or until the dough is elastic, approximately eight to ten minutes by hand.
Apply a thin coat of oil to the dough's exterior. Place in bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 45 to 60 minutes. Roll out pizza cone dough to 1/8 inch thick and large enough surface area for the dough cutter to fit twice. After cutting the dough into shape, remove excess dough. Moisten the edges of the dough with water or egg wash and fold the dough over in half so the edges meet. Press down on the seam with your fingers and then run the crimper along the edge to thoroughly seal the seam. Let the cones rest on the cutting board for 10 to 15 minutes; re-roll remaining dough to form additional cones. Preheat oven or grill to 400 degrees. After the dough has rested, carefully slip the dough onto the pizza cone form. Bake for six to seven minutes or until cone begins to brown. Remove from oven; let cool for two minutes and remove from form. Place cone into the pizza cone stand, fill with your favorite pizza ingredients, return to the oven and bake until golden bubbly, about eight minutes. Let baked pizza cones rest for a few minutes before consuming. Note: Pizza cone ingredients will settle while baking in the oven. For a fuller pizza cone, stuff ingredients to the brim of the cone before baking.
Recipe from Pizzacraft Pizza Cone
MINI DEEP DISH PIZZA
Olive oil, for muffin pan
All-purpose flour, for rolling
1/2 pound homemade or store-bought pizza dough, in 6 pieces
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella (4 ounces)
1 large tomato, coarsely chopped
Desired toppings, such as cooked vegetables, pineapple and ham, or pepperoni
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly brush 6 standard muffin cups with oil. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out each dough piece to a 6-inch round. Fill each cup with 1 round, gently pressing dough into bottom and sides of cup. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle each dough cup with 1 tablespoon each cheese and tomato. Add desired toppings and another tablespoon each cheese and tomato. Bake until dough is golden brown and crisp, 12 minutes. Let cool 2 minutes before removing from cups.
Note: Standard muffin pans come in 6- or 12-cup size; if baking 6 items in a 12-cup pan, leave empty space in between. Nonstick pans are nice but not essential.
Beware of very thin pans, which often lead to burning. Place pans on a baking sheet to make them easier to get in and out of the oven.