Pizza - Beyond The Basics
Now that you can create a good basic pizza dough it is time to try some easy variations. Changing the flavor and texture of your dough is as simple as adding an extra ingredient or two. Different flavorings can be kneaded into basic pizza dough with great results. It is best to make the basic dough, let it rise, and then knead in your choice of flavoring until well blended. You should then refrigerate your dough, covered for about 20 minutes before shaping, or let it go through an additional rising. Remember though, if you are adding a flavoring to your dough, you should keep your toppings simple.
Some options for flavoring your pizza dough are:
Prosciutto - 4 oz. Finely Chopped Prosciutto
Garlic - 1 Large Garlic Clove, Finely Minced
Cheese Flavored -1/4 Cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Or Romano Cheese.
Onion - 1 Small Onion, Finely Minced And Sautéed Until Translucent.
Herb - 1 Teaspoon Dried Thyme, Sage Or Rosemary, Or 1 Tablespoon Fresh Basil, Oregano Or Sage
Pepper - 1 Tablespoon Cracked Black Pepper
Another way to change both the texture and flavor of your pizza dough is to substitute another type of flour for part of the all-purpose flour. I often remove half the white flour and add half whole wheat or semolina flour to make a healthier pizza with more texture. I find using all whole-wheat flour produces a tough crust that doesn't have the proper texture needed. You now have some options for changing the flavor and texture of your pizza crust, and might now consider other types of pizza.
In Part One we discussed the joys of using the grill to make a thin crust pizza in mere minutes. See my Grilled Pizza recipe. You may however be the type to prefer a thick crust, which is just as tasty in it's own way. To make a thick crust pizza use the same Basic Pizza Dough recipe, but after letting it rise, place in a suitable sized pizza pan at about a 1 inch thickness. Cover with the ingredients of your choice, and bake at 425 degrees F. for about 30 minutes. You might like to try my recipe for Kitchen Sink Pizza , which basically uses whatever fresh ingredients I have on hand, or if you are looking to eat a little healthier, my Heart Healthy Pizza is a good choice.
Other options to pizza making are stuffed pizzas; such as a calzone, which is simply a circle of pizza, dough that has a filling added to one side and is folded over and sealed. It is then baked and arrives at the table an impressive golden puffy package. My recipe for Eggplant And Sausage Calzone is one tasty choice. You can experiment with your own fillings and find out what you enjoy most. A mezzaluna is actually a calzone that is filled primarily with sautéed greens, while a panzerotti generally refers to small calzone-like pizzas that are deep-fried. These can be used as tasty appetizers such as my recipe for Panzerotti Filled With Tomatoes And Mozzarella .
I hope you now expand your pizza experience and give a few of these recipes a try. Remember, when it comes to pizza variations, you are only as limited as your imagination!
Deborah Mele 2002