Thursday, May 5, 2011

Recipe: A quickie before dinner? 45min homemade pizza crust!

Because we’re all in a hurry when we get home from work…

Quattro Fromaggio Quick Crust Pizza.
I thought I would post this as an alternative to the 2.5 hour “weekend” pizza crust recipe I gave on April 8 (check my posts at lower right). You can mix this up the minute you get home, do a few things around the house, form your pizza, bake and still have dinner on the table at a reasonable hour.

Any regular reader of my blog will find most of my recipes are straightforward, relatively fast and usually "one pot." I hate tons of dirty dishes and long, fussy prep directions (for the most part...). But I love food. So I try to keep my recipes short and sweet—and tasty. That's why I'm posting this "quickie" version of the longer rise pizza crust.

This recipe is essentially the same crust as the previous post with a few modifications. The main differences? Shorter rise, and just enough dough to make one 11” x 16” pizza (family size), which will feed four comfortably. The other was for two pizzas of slightly smaller size.

It’s interesting how slight changes in technique or ingredients have major ramifications on finished product. The finished texture is different than when you give a pizza crust lots of time to develop. But this is a great honey crust, and the time it takes to make is only 15 minutes longer than pizza crust mixes available at the grocers.

The “filling” for this post is Quattro Fromaggio (classic Four Cheese) which is the same as with the earlier post, but quantities have been adjusted for the larger size. I made more homemade ricotta (again, from a previous post) this last weekend, so it needed a use. If you didn’t see that post, check it out. I did it twice to prove my first excellent result wasn't a fluke!

If you have never tried, making ricotta is as easy a heating milk and adding some lemon juice, vinegar and salt. Seriously. Hope you try this pizza, and try making ricotta. This is a great pie!

Of course you can use this crust for any toppings you want. May I suggest a little tomato sauce, marinated artichoke hearts, Genoa salami (spicy) and Provolone cheese? That's a winning combination.

Quick Crust Pizza with Quattro Fromaggio Filling
Total 1 hour 15 min  | Makes 11” x 16” pizza  |  Serves 4

Quick Homemade Pizza Crust
Yeast proof: 15 min  | Rise: 30 min
1-1/2 tsp yeast
1 tbsp honey
1  cup water, lukewarm (110°F)
2-3/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp olive oil

Proof the yeast in a bowl with the honey and water. Place in a warm spot, covered with saran wrap, or place the whole bowl in a tied plastic grocery bag. Let sit until bubbly. This will take about 15 minutes. If the yeast hasn’t become active start again.

After the yeast has proofed, add in the remaining ingredients. Bring together in the bowl and knead for about 1 minute in the bowl. The dough will be soft, wet and a little sticky under your hand. 

Cover tightly and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes. After this time the dough will have risen somewhat, but not substantially.

While the crust is rising mix together the filling.

This filling is...well, filling. It's a lot of cheese and will feed four with no problem.
Quattro Fromaggio
Filling prep: 10 min  |  Baking: 25 min
olive oil for baking sheet
1-1/2 containers of ricotta (680 g/24 oz)
3/4 cup parmesan, grated
3/4 cup romano, grated
3/4 cup mozzarella, in 1/2” cubes
3 eggs
1-1/2 tsp each of basil and oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
cornmeal for sprinkling edge of crust

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lightly oil the pizza sheet and press out the crust. Leave it a little thicker at the edges for folding over the filling.

Mix the ricotta, parmesan and Romano with the eggs, basil, oregano and salt. Pour into the centre of the crust and evenly smooth out to approxinately 1” from the edge.

Flip the outer edge of the crust up over the filling to about 1" or 2". This keeps the filling in place as it bakes. Scatter the mozzarella cubes over the top of the pizza. Sprinkle with the pepper. 

Cutting the mozzarella into cubes, rather than grating, is a trick I picked up from America's Test Kitchen on the US television station PBS. Gratin mozzarella "seals" the top of the pizza. It makes it very difficult to cut easily, as well as not allowing ingredients underneath to cook as they should. Try cubes—you'll be surprised.

Dust the flipped up crust edge with cornmeal and bake in the centre of the oven for 25 minutes.



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