Sunday, June 1, 2008

Margherita Pizza

And now, a tale.  Don't worry lovely readers, it has a happy ending.

Once upon a time there lived a princess in a wee, wee apartment. It was so wee that two people cooking simultaneously in the kitchen was only, well, a fairy tale.  The princess did not mind; she enjoyed her solitary time with the vegetables and spices.  

Before moving into the castle, er, the wee, wee apartment, the prince had been very clever and suggested that they have a window cut into the wall that separated the living room/dining room and the kitchen. This ensured that the princess could always have an eye on what was going on in the rest of the kingdom.  However, the prince, lacking magical powers, was unable to conjure up more kitchen space.  

One day, there arose a dire situation.  The princess, who was most fond of making pizza had declared that particular day as the singular day when the prince and the princess would christen their pizza stone.  The pizza stone had been received along with other wedding bounty and had as yet gone untouched. It sat in the dungeon with the winter clothes, patiently waiting to destroy the couple's happy marriage. 

What's that you say? How could a piece of cooking equipment really have it in for someone? Oh believe me, fine readers, if there was ever an evil piece of kitchenry, it is surely the pizza stone. Only a sadist would have designed an implement meant to be fired in a stove to the tune of 500 degrees, empty, while the item to be cooked stands by.  

Perhaps the prince was too kind to the implement, and gave the pizza stone the wrong idea from the beginning. Before giving it to the princess, he brought the stone upstairs, oiled it and baked it for a few hours, so to ensure it would be on its best behavior. Could this loving treatment have created the impudence we are about to hear about? We will never know. 

With the stone heating away in the inferno, the princess set about making the pizza.  On a cutting board, with nothing under it, she stretched the dough, and placed the toppings. It looks delicious, cried the prince. Indeed, said the princess. 

Now, how to get the pizza into the inferno, and onto the pizza stone....without removing the 500 degree stone from the 500 degree oven. You see, the creators of the Divorce Stone, as it now referred to in the princess's house, said explicitly not to remove the stone from the furnace before it cooled down or it might crack.

Not waiting a cracked stone, the princess and the prince wedged themselves into their tiny kitchen.  Neither have insignificant backsides, and it was quite something for the princess to wedge herself into the corner, where the oven is located, while the prince opened the inferno and tried to wield the thirty ton cutting board. Alas! The pizza would not slide off of the cutting board. It refused to budge.  

With the heat from the oven becoming unbearable, the princess began to say some rather unroyal things.  Hotter and hotter the small kitchen grew as the prince and princess tried to relocate the floppy, topping laden pizza onto a 500 degree slab of rock from a cutting board that weighed an unreasonable amount.  Finally, the princess, dripping in sweat, and exhausted from swearing,  veritably dumped the pizza onto the stone, slammed the oven shut, and swore to never, ever use the pizza stone again.   Kitchen appliances should never drive a princess to be so undignified, she thought. 

 When the pizza came out, the crust was indeed fabulous, but in the end, her marriage was more important than a super crispy crust.  From that day on, the princess returned to a regular baking sheet.  She found that if you didn't line the sheet with anything, the resulting pizza was as good, if not better than if it had been made on a divorce stone. The prince and princess continued to enjoy pizza often, and eventually, some months later, were able to laugh politely about the stone. The end. 

Pizza dough 


1 c warm water
1 packet quick rising yeast
pinch sugar of dash of honey
3 c unbleached, all purpose, white flour, plus more for counter
1 tsp salt
1 TB extra virgin oil
1 tsp salt
1 c whole wheat flour


Place water in large mixing bowl. Add packet of yeast, and either sugar or honey. Stir. Let mixture sit for five minutes.  Add 2 1/2 c white flour, salt, and olive oil to bowl and mix using a wooden spoon or metal fork.  When mixture is holding some form, turn out onto well floured surface.  Slowly add remaining white flour, kneading mixture with hands.  Add whole wheat flour slowly, until dough is no longer sticky while being kneaded.  Amount of flour needed will vary; total will be between 3-4 c. Avoid adding too much flour, as dough will become stiff. 

Knead dough until smooth and elastic, about five-ten minutes.  Place in well-oiled bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. Put bowl in a non-drafty location, and allow dough to rise.  After about an hour, punch dough down to remove air pockets.  Dough can now be used.  However, if time allows, let dough rise again for at least an hour, and punch down again before using.  Roll dough out or use hands to stretch dough into an oiled baking sheet. Top pizza, and cook for 15-20 minutes at 500 degrees. Makes enough dough for 1 large pizza, or 2 small. 


Bob said...

Princess Mary and the Divorce Stone -- eat your heart out JK Rowling!

Michelle said...

Hi! I just found your blog on the foodie blog roll. I use a pizza stone all the time, but I never preheat in the oven. Heat your oven to about 375. Sprinkle the stone with cornmeal, spread out your pizza crust. You can either load it up with toppings and then cook it, which is yummy, or parbake it about 8-10 minutes depending on how thick your crust is, then load it up and finish baking. It depends on what mood I am in. The first yields a softer crust, a little more floppy, and the second makes it a little firmer and chewier. Good luck, and don't give up on the poor pizza stone. I think the princess can conquer it! :-)

saltygirl said...

Bob- thanks friend :)
Michelle- Thanks for the tip. I've heard tho that the stone can crack if you don't heat it and cool it in the oven. Another fairy-tale?