pizza al formaggio/cheese pizza
A couple of weeks ago, I posted the pictures of the what I was going during the snow on my personal Facebook page. The photo album’s information noted that all the pictures would eventually end up on the blog. Some of them have been posted, but most are still waiting in the wings.
While looking through my (now) backlog to see which one of those recipes would be up next, I…. fell asleep before accomplishing my task. Luckily, I received the sweetest email from Wendy, a lovely friend. In the email, Wendy showed me the way…”Was curious as to when you will be posting the pizza muffin recipe. Sounds perfect for a super bowl party!!!”
You know? She’s absolutely right! These pizza muffins are a fun and different way to serve an all time favorite during a super bowl party. How did they come to be? The Cupcake Blog posted a picture of some pizza cupcakes and a link to Marcelo Pratis’ Flickr Photostream. Underneath his photo, he wrote: “Homemade pizza dough baked in muffin cases or cupcake pans. Remember: Don’t fill it all with dough. Make a dough cup! Pre-oven them quickly, add tomato sauce, canned tuna and mozzarella. Bake them and lay some tiny basil leaves to serve.”
Okay! It’s on.
For the dough, I decided to make the Basic Pizza Dough I made some time back (also posted below), when I was a Daring Baker. It is the recipe from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart. But, here’s the great part about these. If you don’t want to take the time to make your own dough (although everyone should make fresh pizza dough at least once), picking up a bag of dough from your local grocers would work perfectly!
Unlike Marcelo’s notations, I did not use muffin cases. I lightly brushed the muffin tins with garlic oil. No garlic oil? Any olive oil would work.
Once the pans were oiled, I plopped (about) a 2-ounce ball of dough in each cup, flattened a little, and seasoned with freshly ground pepper. *The size of the ball will depend on you pan and needs. A smear of tomato sauce, followed with a topping of grated mozzarella, then baked at 450°F for about 15 minutes, and we had about 8 muffins.
I went plain. A little too plain because I totally forgot the basil. Whoops! Nonetheless, I would imagine other preferred toppings would work. I would caution you though. As the dough muffin rises, feisty toppings might feel the urge to run away.
Looking for other potential super bowl party bites? I think some Chipotle Chicken Tostadas and Guacamole Peppered Shrimp Tostadas or Chicken Empanadas might be crowd pleasers as well.
Basic Pizza Dough
Original recipe taken from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.
Makes 6 pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter).
4 ½ Cups unbleached high-gluten (%14) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled
1 ¾ Tsp Salt
1 Tsp instant yeast
¼ Cup (2 ounces/60g) Olive oil
1 ¾ Cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) Water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)
1 Tb sugar Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal
Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer). Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are homogeneously distributed. If it is too wet, add a little flour (not too much, though) and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water.
NOTE: If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for the same amount of time.The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour, so that it clears the sides. If, on the contrary, it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water. The finished dough should be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50°-55° F/10°-13° C.
Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper. With the help of a metal or plastic dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you want to make larger pizzas). NOTE: To avoid the dough from sticking to the scraper, dip the scraper into water between cuts. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball. NOTE: If the dough sticks to your hands, then dip your hands into the flour again. Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil. Slip the pan into plastic bag or enclose in plastic food wrap.
Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to thee days. NOTE: You can store the dough balls in a zippered freezer bag if you want to save some of the dough for any future baking. In that case, pour some oil (a few tablespoons only) in a medium bowl and dip each dough ball into the oil, so that it is completely covered in oil. Then put each ball into a separate bag. Store the bags in the freezer for no longer than 3 months. The day before you plan to make pizza, remember to transfer the dough balls from the freezer to the refrigerator.
On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Place the dough balls on a floured surface and sprinkle them with flour. Dust your hands with flour and delicately press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours.
At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven as hot as possible (500° F/260° C). NOTE: If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly pan. Do not preheat the pan.
Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Flour your hands (palms, backs and knuckles). Take 1 piece of dough by lifting it with a pastry scraper. Lay the dough across your fists in a very delicate way and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands, and by giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss. NOTE: Make only one pizza at a time. During the tossing process, if the dough tends to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and re-flour your hands, then continue the tossing and shaping. In case you would be having trouble tossing the dough or if the dough never wants to expand and always springs back, let it rest for approximately 5-20 minutes in order for the gluten to relax fully,then try again.You can also resort to using a rolling pin, although it isn’t as effective as the toss method.
11. When the dough has the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter – for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough), place it on the back of the jelly pan, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan.
12. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice. NOTE: Remember that the best pizzas are topped not too generously. No more than 3 or 4 toppings (including sauce and cheese) are sufficient.
13. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for abour 5-8 minutes. NOTE: After 2 minutes baking, take a peek. For an even baking, rotate 180°. If the top gets done before the bottom, you will need to move the stone or jelly pane to a lower shelf before the next round. On the contrary, if the bottom crisps before the cheese caramelizes, then you will need to raise the stone or jelly.
14. Take the pizza out of the oven and transfer it to a cutting board or your plate. In order to allow the cheese to set a little, wait 3-5 minutes before slicing or serving.