Pizza Pizza!

Friday night is often pizza night in our house. It started back many years ago when the boys’ Karate Sensei would habitually ask the kids, “Having pizza tonight?” on Friday nights; we weren’t, but the idea took root in our brains and eventually we were. (I secretly think he was a shill for the local house of pizza.)

Lately, I’ve been seeing posts about Jim Lahey’s latest — the no-knead pizza crust — everywhere, and in spite of my previous disasters (read about them here and here) with his no-knead bread, I was intrigued. I had planned to attempt it this week when, as so often happens, the Baker’s Banter blogged about their version of his no-knead crust (This happens a lot — I have a particular baking project in my head, and then Baker’s Banter blogs about it. It’s actually very eerie. I’m concerned they may have tapped my brain.). The no-knead pizza dough is super wet and unlike any pizza dough I’ve ever worked with before. I was concerned I wasn’t going to be able to do anything with it (it’s like wrestling a large mass of ooze) but somehow managed. It helped that I divided the batch into quarters (I made a double batch), so I could sort of juggle each portion of dough in two hands. I made 4 pizzas — they received raves from the eaters. The crust is a little different than I’m accustomed to. It’s chewy and substantial, but not thick. It’s like an artisan bread turned pizza. We had a lot of toppings on them, so the crust really needed to be strong (otherwise it would be a big mess) and it was. It really helped that I precooked the crust before adding the toppings, otherwise I doubt the crust would’ve cooked at all.

Above, the pizza on the left is meatball with roasted green peppers and caramelized onions. It has homemade marinara sauce as a base. I used a pizza cheese blend (mozzarella and cheddar) on all the pizzas. The one on the right is a barbecue chicken pizza — seasoned chicken breast, a drizzle of Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce and cheese. Below, the pizza on the left is a chicken and vegetable pizza — more seasoned chicken breast, caramelized onions, roasted green peppers, chopped garlic and sauteed mushrooms (no sauce). On the right is a vegetable pizza — sliced Roma tomatoes, chopped garlic, caramelized onions, roasted green peppers and sauteed mushrooms. Out of all the pizzas, the favorite was the barbecued chicken pizza.

I also made another (different) type of pizza crust. C. recently got a palate expander and has been having difficulty relearning the chewing and swallowing process (everything seems to get caught in the appliance). The orthodontist told him to take care to not eat crusty things lest it bend the metal, so I thought maybe no-knead crust was not the way to go for him this week. I got the recipe for his pizza out of The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book. It’s just the Basic Pizza Dough recipe, with a cup of whole wheat flour substituted for one of the two cups of flour. For the other cup, I think I may have used King Arthur all-purpose flour instead of the bread flour the recipe calls for in an attempt to make the bread a little less chewy (I can’t remember because I went back and forth on the decision and in the end made the dough so hastily I don’t know what I did!). C. likes his pizza with cheese and no sauce. I thought it turned out beautifully and it was delicious as well. As expected, it did not have the chewy crust the no-knead dough did, but it was tasty, nutritious and just what the orthodontist ordered!

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