By Kira Wills, Guest Blogger
Years ago, I used to watch people ruminate on the transcendent experience that was eating pizza with some confusion. While I always ate pizza when it was around, it was never a guilty pleasure food or even something I ever viewed as being gourmet. But then again, I was a part of a Pizza Hut and Little Caesars family.
Last year, I had a bunch of yeast and too much time on my hands, so I started testing pizza dough recipes. The dough is easy enough to make–turns out velvety and flavorful–but I’ve found recipes for authentic Italian pizza can be very daunting. It requires a bunch of things I had no desire to buy: pizza peels, pizza stones, semolina flour, Italian grandmothers, and scary wood-fired ovens that I definitely don’t have access to because I’m not a Real Housewife. Thankfully, with some experimentation, almost no special equipment and a little bit of patience, I created a recipe for Pepperoni Pizza that’s worthy of rumination. It’s definitely not traditional, but it’s incredibly delicious.
If you have a French fry sheet with aeration holes, you can use that. If not, a baking sheet works just fine. With the addition of a bit of onion under the cheese, some bacon and a mixture of cheeses, this pizza is smoky, spicy, cheesy and decadent without being greasy or heavy like take-out pizza tends to be. I made it for family arriving early on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and it would be perfect for a Superbowl party or just a Monday night in front of the television as it makes fantastic left-overs.
I will forewarn you, if you make this pizza for more than two people, double the recipe. It goes incredibly fast.
Adapted from Bon Appetit
¾ cup warm water (105-115 degrees)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 ½ tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 ¼ cup (or more) all-purpose flour
Combine warm water, sugar and year in a large bowl. Let sit until spongy or frothy, about 4 to 6 minutes. Mix in olive oil and salt. Stir in flour until barely combined. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes. Add more flour a bit at a time if the dough is too sticky.
Grease a large bowl with olive oil and place dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap, and place in a warm to rise until double in size, about 1 ½ hours.
4 ounces of your favorite pizza sauce
¼ cup minced sautéed onions*
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup Italian blend or cheddar cheese
25-30 pepperoni pieces, frozen or thawed
Bacon pieces (1 to 3 pieces cooked and chopped)
Dried basil leaves or 3 to 5 fresh basil leaves, chopped
Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. *To prepare onions, heat a medium skill over medium high heat. When hot, add about 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Add ¼ cup of onions when oil is hot. Saute until a light golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Place on paper-towel lined plate and set aside.
When dough has doubled in size, punch down and turn out onto a very lightly floured work surface. Gently roll out with rolling pin into a rustic shape that, about 15 x 11, using as few strokes as possible. Transfer to baking sheet.
Top with your desired pizza sauce and sprinkle evenly with cooled sautéed onions. Add cheese in an even layer. If you are using chopped bacon, add after cheese and then top with pepperoni. I like to sprinkle the top of the pizza with a few tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese or an extra bit of mozzarella or cheddar, and then sprinkle lightly with dried basil leaves and pepper.
Bake in oven about 13 to 17 minutes, when cheese has darkened at the edges and the bottom of the crust is a pale light brown and slightly crisp. Serve immediately.