Brick Oven Pizza with Arugula and Shaved Parmesan

arugula and parmesan pizza - trustinkim

Continuing the tradition of making pizza up at the cabin, and inspired by pizza I ate on a recent trip to Italy, this is one of the pizza we made this summer.

A successful pizza really depends on an awesome crust. I start this one two or three days before making the pizza. It gets taken out of the fridge the morning that it gets used – so this does take some planning ahead! It is totally worthwhile, and not any extra work, as the dough just sits in the fridge most of the time. The recipe for the crust comes from the A16 Food and Wine cookbook by by Nate Appleman and Shelley Lindgren.

The pizza sauce is really simple, just canned tomatoes and a little salt.

You can do any toppings you like, but keeping it simple is the way to go – too many toppings and you get a soggy pizza.

If you don’t happen to have a brick oven sitting around, you could just fire your oven up to 500F. This will make really good pizza too.

What you need for the dough:

  • 1/4 teaspoon yeast
  • 1 & 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 cups “oo” flour or all-purpose

What you need for the rest of the pizza:

  • semolina flour for sprinkling on the baking sheet
  • one 28-ounce can of tomatoes (San Marzano preferably)
  • 1-2 teaspoons salt
  • fresh buffalo mozzarella
  • sweet onion, sliced
  • baby arugula
  • a chunk of good quality parmesan

What you do:

  1. Begin preparing the dough two or three days before you want to make the pizza. You can do this by hand, but it’s a bit more work than using a machine. Pour the warm (not hot – just body temperature) water into a mixer fitted with a dough hook, and then sprinkle the yeast on top.  Leave it for about 10 minutes and it should dissolve and become foamy – if it doesn’t your water was the wrong temperature, or the yeast is dead, so you need to try again with new yeast.
  2. Stir in the olive oil and salt.  Add most of the flour and mix on low for 2 minutes.  Knead on medium-low for about 10 minutes – it will pull away from the bowl and begin to look smoother.
  3. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let it rest for 5 minutes. Knead once more on medium-low for 10 minutes – it will be smooth and quite soft.  If it seems much too sticky you can add a little more flour, but don’t add too much since the finished product should be quite soft and workable.
  4. Coat a large bowl with a little olive oil, and then coat both sides of the dough with olive oil, placing the dough in the bowl.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge over night (or two or three nights). Each morning you can punch the dough down and then cover and refrigerate it again.
  5. On the morning of the day you are going to make your pizza, remove the  dough from the fridge and punch it down.  Fold the sides of the dough under and put it back in the bowl.  Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let it sit in a warm (not hot) place until about 2 hours before you are going to use it.
  6. Punch the dough down again and divide it into 4 pieces.  Form each piece into balls and cover them with a damp towel for about 2 hours.  By this time the dough should have doubled in volume.  Checking from time to time throughout the two hours, see if it starts to get a skin on it, in which case you can spray it with a little bit of water.
  7. To prepare the sauce, just put the tomatoes and their juice into a bowl and squish them into little bits with your hands.  Stir in the salt.
  8. Preheat the oven to 500-550 F or heat the brick oven. It takes a few hours to get the brick oven up to the right temperature.
  9. To form the crusts, shape the dough into a disk with your hands.  I like to pick the disk up and let the weight of the dough stretch it into its larger pizza shape, moving my fingers around the edge of the circle until I have a pizza crust that is about 25-30 cm in diameter with a slightly raised edge. Dust your baking pan generously with the semolina (or cornmeal, or more of the oo flour) and place the crust on it.  I don’t have a proper pizza stone or pan, and the baking tray I used worked just fine.
  10. Spread some tomato sauce onto the crust, then add the onion and some of the buffalo mozza broken into chunks.
  11. Bake for 6-7 minutes, until the crust is crisp, golden, with some dark blistering, and the top is bubbling.
  12. Top with a mound of arugula, then shave some parmesan on it. You could add a drizzle of olive oil if you like.

Enjoy!

fox licking his lips - trustinkim
This fox was watching us make the pizza; here he is licking his lips.

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