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1/2 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
1 envelope (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
1 1/4 cups water, at room temperature
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
Olive oil or non-stick cooking spray for greasing bowl
Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand until the yeast dissolves and swells, about 5 minutes. Add the room temperature water and oil and stir to combine.
Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Briefly combine the dry ingredients at low speed. Slowly add the liquid ingredients and continue to mix at low speed until a cohesive mass forms. Stop the mixer and replace the paddle with the dough hook. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 ½ to 2 hours. Press the dough to deflate it.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Form both pieces of dough into smooth, round balls and cover with a damp cloth. Let the dough relax for at least 10 minutes, but no more than 30 minutes.
Working with one piece of dough and keeping the other covered, shape the dough and transfer to a pizza stone or baking pan dusted with flour or cornmeal. Top as desired.
Roasted Garlic Chicken Pesto Pizza Recipe:
1 perfect pizza crust (recipe above)
1/2 cup prepared pesto (store bought or homemade)
1 bulb of garlic
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked and shredded
Mozzarella cheese (approximately 2 cups, shredded or sliced)
To roast the garlic:
Peel away the outer layers of the garlic bulb skin, leaving the skins of the individual cloves intact. Using a knife, cut off 1/4 to a 1/2 inch of the top of cloves, exposing the individual cloves of garlic. Place the garlic heads in a baking pan (muffin pans work well for this purpose). Drizzle a couple teaspoons of olive oil over each head, using your fingers to make sure the garlic head is well coated. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 400°F for 30-35 minutes, or until the cloves feel soft when pressed.
Remove garlic gloves and smash with a fork. Spread roasted garlic over pizza dough. Do this to taste. I used almost the whole (small) bulb, but I LOVE roasted garlic. Spread the pesto on the pizza. Add the sliced, cooked chicken. Sprinkle with mozzarella (as much as desired, I used about one cup on each pizza). Top with fresh grated Parmesan.
Bake on pizza stone or baking pan at 500 degrees F for 8-12 minutes.
(Recipe adapted from Sugar Cooking)