Back when I was a youngin’, I always requested pizza for my birthday slumber parties. Just a bunch of elementary school girls sitting around the dining room table, eating pepperoni pizza and debating which Hanson brother was the best (Team Zac, by the way). It doesn’t get much better than that.
Now that I’m a “grown-up”, pizza is still one of my favorite foods. (And I’ll admit that I still really like Hanson, so perhaps my life hasn’t changed very much in the last 20 years.) But it’s hard to resist a meal that combines two of my favorite foods: bread and cheese. And bacon, in the case of most pizza these days. I’ve found that almost anytime we eat out, there’s somehow bacon involved in my meal. What a world we live in.
We have yet to begin the search for Portland’s best pizza, but we’ve been making our own for years. This is my favorite pizza crust recipe, straight from the brilliant and crazy mind of Gwyneth Paltrow.
- 2¼ cups warm water, divided
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3 packages active dry yeast
- about 5 cups bread flour, divided, plus more for kneading and dusting
- 1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon coarse salt
- Whisk together ¾ cup of the water (warmed to the temperature suggested on the back of the yeast packet, generally 100-110 degrees), the sugar, and the yeast in a large bowl (I like to use my Kitchen-Aid mixer with the dough hook attachment), and let stand until the yeast begins to look foamy, about 5 minutes. Add 1½ cups water, 3¾ cups flour, olive oil, and salt. Stir until smooth. Gradually add up to another cup of flour until the dough starts to pull itself from the edges of the bowl.
- Knead the dough on a floured surface until it is elastic and smooth. Form the kneaded dough into a ball. Pour about a tablespoon of olive oil into a bowl, and place the dough in the bowl. Roll the dough around until it is coated in oil (this will prevent the dough from sticking as it rises). Cover with a towel. Let the dough rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1½ hours.
- Once you are ready to begin topping your pizza, preheat the oven to 475 degrees, and put your pizza stone in the oven to heat. Separate the dough into 4 pieces and use your fingers to spread it into the shape of your choosing (making that perfect circle is impossible). I recommend making the pizzas on parchment paper, and then transferring the pizzas and paper to the hot pizza stone when you are ready to bake. Top with your favorite toppings.
- Bake at 475 degrees for 15 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.
Our two favorite pizzas at the moment are Pear Gorgonzola (an extra virgin olive oil and garlic base, bacon, red onion, pears, cinnamon, and gorgonzola) and Veggie Bacon (a marinara sauce base, heirloom tomatoes, roasted red bell pepper, spinach, and mozzarella). Delish.