Make pizza more interesting by trading in the age-old combination of tomato and cheese topping for different ingredients and flavors.
Add the ease and convenience of rolling dough to an individual serving size (about nine inches) that requires no messy cutting up and passing around at the table, and you have a thin-crust pizza similar to those served in many trendy restaurants.
A good pizza dough is simple to prepare in advance, refrigerate, roll and quickly top with a variety of cheeses, meats, vegetables and herbs. Baking time is about 10 minutes.
Use a Dough Starter
Here, a chewy dough is achieved by using a dough starter made from flour, water and yeast. Dough is mixed quickly by combining starter with other ingredients in the processor work bowl and processing.
This is a one-step technique for mixing yeast dough designed to reduce difficulties with pouring yeast starters and other liquids through the small feed tube openings that are becoming standard on so many processors.
One-step processing reduces messy spills and makes kneading yeast dough especially easy. Total processing time should be less than a minute, and usually the dough will be thoroughly kneaded within 40 seconds.
After the dough has risen it may be used immediately or divided in half, shaped into cushion-like discs and refrigerated in an airtight bag for up to one week. It is not necessary to freeze dough, provided most of the air is removed from the bag. Dough that has aged longer than 24 hours develops acids, which create a very faint sourdough flavor. Many bakers believe that day-old pizza dough produces a superior crust.
Similarly, baking pizza on a preheated stone (rather than metal) surface yields a crust of superior texture. Although a baking stone and peel (used to transfer pizzas to and from the stone) is not standard equipment in most kitchens, anyone seriously interested in baking bread or pizza might consider purchasing one. Baking stones are available at many kitchen supply stores.
Note that pizza ingredients call for shredded cheese. Prepare Fontina and provolone cheese by removing the rinds and cutting the cheese into chunks. Grate by using the metal blade and processing with two-second pulses to a ground consistency. SINGLE-SERVING PIZZAS
3/4 teaspoon dry yeast
2/3 cup warm water
Bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons mild olive oil or vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups Fontina cheese, shredded
12 thin slices air-dried Italian sausage or 2 ounces cooked, crumbled fresh Italian sausage
8 pieces marinated artichoke hearts, drained and patted dry
2 ounces provolone cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions (green part only)
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
For starter, combine yeast and 1/3 cup water in mixing bowl or 1-quart airtight container. Stir well, then stir in 1/2 cup flour to form thick paste. Cover tightly and set aside until doubled, about 2 hours. (May cover tightly and refrigerate up to 5 days).
Insert metal blade in processor container. Add 1 1/4 cups flour, salt, remaining 1/3 cup water and starter. Process 40 seconds or until dough forms soft, moist (but not sticky) ball. Rinse large mixing bowl with warm water. Without drying bowl, add dough and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set aside until dough triples, 2 to 3 hours.
Pull risen dough from bowl without kneading. Cut dough in half. Cover and set dough pieces aside 10 minutes or knead each piece into 4-inch-diameter cushion shape, wrap airtight and refrigerate up to 1 week.
Mix garlic and oil and set aside. Lightly flour work surface. Roll each piece dough to 9-inch circle, rotating and stretching as you work. Transfer dough to baking sheet.
Brush each dough circle generously with garlic oil. Cover surface of dough with 3/4 cup Fontina, leaving 1/2-inch border at edge. Arrange 6 sausage slices (or half of cooked crumbled sausage) on each dough round over Fontina. Arrange 4 artichoke pieces on each. Sprinkle each with half of provolone, half of green onions and 1/2 teaspoon seasoning. Drizzle 1 teaspoon garlic oil over each pizza.
Bake on lowest oven rack at 350 degrees 8 to 10 minutes or until cheese bubbles and bottom of crust is lightly brown. Serve immediately. Makes 2 (9-inch) pizzas.