California Pizza Crust
Makes two 12″ pizza crusts
1 cup warm water (110-115F degrees)
2 1/4 t dry yeast (one packet)
3 1/4 cup flour
1 t salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Sprinkle yeast over top of water. Stir.When it bubbles, put 3 cups of flour into a separate bowl and add the yeast water and olive oil, making a well in the flour with it. Stir with a fork or pastry scraper until it comes together and it seems kind of sticky. Pour the remaining flour onto a countertop or flat surface. Dump the sticky mixture onto the floured surface. Knead it until it is elastic and shiny, about 10 minutes. Coat the bowl with olive oil and put the dough in it. Turn it over to coat the dough with oil. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and set it in a warm place to rise for an hour or hour and a half, until it doubles in size. Punch it down and repeat this rising phase until doubled again.
Preheat the oven to 425F degrees and heat the pizza stone while you are assembling your pizza.
Punch the dough down and divide the dough in half. Then roll it on a floured surface to a size that fits your pizza stone. Use the rolling pin to roll the dough onto your rolling pin and then transfer it to a pizza paddle coated with cornmeal. Add whatever toppings you want, and then transfer the pizza to the hot pizza stone.
Bake at 425F degrees 25-30 minutes or until the crust is nice and brown.
You can put a variety of toppings on pizzas. Just toss the toppings on top of the crust in an attractive way. We made three different pizzas using the following groupings:
Eggplant (sliced thin and roasted with a little olive oil and sea salt)
Fresh mushrooms, sliced
Sliced red onion (thinly sliced)
Kalamata olives (no pits, sliced in 1/2)
Ricotta Salata (Sliced thinly)
Toasted pine nuts
Grape tomatoes (sliced in 1/2)
Fresh baby spinach
Red onion (sliced thinly)
Fresh mozzarella pearls
Salt & pepper
Chopped artichokes (canned okay, drained well)
Roasted asparagus, cut in small pieces
Asiago cheese (grated)
Provolone (shredded or chopped in sticks)
Sun dried tomatoes
Brush each pizza crust with olive oil. Then top with all the other toppings. If you are using Asiago Cheese or Ricotta Salata, it will melt best if you put the cheese on before the other ingredients. mozzarella and Provolone can be added to the top of the pizza. Basil, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts should be added after you pull the pizza out of the oven. If you try to bake them, they will turn black and be unappealing to eat.