I’ve been keeping secrets from you.
Well, just one wonderful secret.
This is the woman who is responsible for my love of food:
She took care of me when I was young. She would pick me up from nursery school and bring me to her house and sit me at the end of her long wooden table so I could watch her cook. She cooked every day. She still does. And every day after nursery school she made me one of two things: pastina with butter, or broccoli with cheese. I can still taste them. The memory still nourishes my soul.
She has so many food traditions that I probably couldn’t list them all. I guess you could say she was my first food hero.
But one of my favorite food traditions happens on New Year’s Eve every year. She makes thin crust pizza. Rather she makes many many thin crust pizzas. They are so thin and delicate and crispy and delicious that I often eat about three pies myself by the end of the night. It’s marvelous.
I didn’t make it there on New Year’s Eve this year. But, she gave me her crust recipe so that I could try to make it myself.
And so I tried. And I did a pretty good job. But it’s never the same as hers. It never will be.
Here’s how it went…
There are really very few ingredients you need for a crust.
The main thing is yeast.
They look like little pebbles.
You add a pinch of sugar and then some water to activate it.
It grows and bubbles.
Then in another bowl you add flour and salt.
A bit of olive oil.
Then you add the yeast mixture.
And give it a nice stir.
Then comes the water.
And you mix until you have a uniform dough, like so…
Then I covered it with a damp towel and let it rise. I just had a feeling that the moisture would help things out a bit.
And if you take a peek, you can watch it rising. It took quite a while though. I actually went on a hike!
But once I was back and fully exercised and ready to eat a whole pizza myself, I floured my work surface.
I actually decided to make it into a permanent pizza making station and keep the flour there always. Is that weird?
I greased my baking sheet with a little olive oil and brushed it on.
Some people use pizza stones. And some people have those round pizza pans. I do not. And she uses these square ones as well and they work perfectly. So I went square.
Then you roll out your dough.
You want to use a lot of flour because it’s a sticky beast. Extra points if you use Wondra flour.
You can also stretch it a bit once it’s in the pan. It’s very forgiving, it really is. We’re going very thin here remember.
Then you use a few of these toppings.
What’s the matter? Don’t you know what those are?
Okay, okay, I’m still learning how to use this camera…
I had some weird little peppers, some old Gorgonzola, some dried out thyme that was once fresh, one onion, a bit of tomato sauce and a bit more cheese… and they were perfect to unload onto a pizza. Pizzas are a great place to unload your kitchen scraps, they really are.
Sawsss. I like to say that word like I’m a real New Yorker in Brooklyn makin’ mya piza pya.
Ok, I’ll stop now.
Smooth that stuff on.
Get really artistic if you want. Consider it your canvas, okay?
Next I pulled out some ricotta…
Put on the chopped peppers…
Some artichoke hearts… I’m tellin ya, really clean out your pantry, okay?
That one onion that I caramelized…
This is what happens when you try to take a picture and sprinkle Parmesan at the same time. It’s like tapping your head with your right hand and rubbing your belly with your left.
Way too much coordination for me. Luckily I was willing to sacrifice and eat the piece with too much cheese.
And then I added more cheese. Because it was the right thing to do.
Then some dried out oregano.
And there she was!
And there she was baked!
I had to stop myself from eating because I almost forgot to take a picture.
Can you taste it?
Now, if you want to add some finishing touches you can throw on a few red pepper flakes.
You can add some arugula or spinach greens to the top. Or to just one corner, so you can say it was a highly balanced meal.
It will never be as good as hers, but it was still nourishing to the soul.
“Thin Crust Pizza”
I've attempted making dough/crust myself a few times with Oilive Oil, but the taste has come through to much in the finished product. However, you have inspired me to try again. Thanks for providing the recipe, and the wonderful story of your mentor.
Hi Ron, I just used a little bit of olive oil and it didn't overwhelm the taste… let us know how it goes!
There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a permanent pizza station! That is usually what my butcher block turns into in the winter. I love making these kind of "whatever is around the kitchen" pizzas for friends when I am short on time. But everyone always thinks they are such a treat – they don't realize it is my "lazy" food. When I lived in Florence though, my Italian hostess would make pizzas like this when she was short on time. I (and she) usually skip the tomato sauce though. Try it some time with olive oil brushed on with a pastry brush, a layer of sprinkled dried herbs, and then chopped veggies. Super light and tasty, and healthy enough that my salad-for-dinner best friend approves.
Also – how long should the dough rise? You say the recipe makes four pizzas; how long should the extra dough (if you only want to make one at a time) be kept in the fridge or freezer?
Hi there Gabi, you let the dough rise until about double…that time will vary depending on the environment but it's about 1.5 hours or so. The dough will keep in the fridge for about five days. You can freeze it to keep it for longer but it won't rise as much afterward. In the freezer it is good for about 2-3 months, wrapped in wax paper and a zip lock bag.
Sounds so good,You have just convinced me to try it.So many toppings possibilities.
This is how I make our pizzas too. For baking I put my small (broken) pizza stone on the very bottom of the oven and set the pan on it to bake (on convection) nice and crisp. Yum!
I know the joys of a meal at Mrs. Leporis' home and recognized her picture with the thin crust pizza. I had her cream puffs and they are THE BEST! I've also enjoyed cooking meat from the hunt- Venison, squirrel, and rabbit. I got a lot of "yucks" about the squirrel but it's sweet and tasty-just look at what squirrels eat. You've got me considering taking up hunting, but I'm probably over the hill for such a thing. I will however, enjoy your blog. Thank you.
Oh man, don't even get me STARTED on her cream puffs. She made me a heaping castle of them one year for my birthday and I brought them to school and everyone was immediately my best friend. I think that's when I made the connection that food=cool. And rock on with the squirrel meat, I've heard many people say it's the best meat in the woods!
Hi Georgia,To answer your question.I use carmelized onions on pizza, burgers,& as a topping on focaccia .Yum!I'm sure there is somthing else but can't think of anything.:) Jon
Yes focaccia! I made that every day when I was cooking in France. Studded with rosemary and olives and onions. Amen.
oh yummmm, just drooled on my keyboard. I didn't think it could be this easy.
Ha, I love keyboard drool.
That's a great looking pie Georgia! Wish you had smell-a-vision on your blogs.LOL I've been looking for a good,thin crust dough recipe because my wife doesn't like the thicker, chewy ones I make. I'm looking forward to trying your recipe. Thanks for sharing.Have a great weekend.
Thanks Jon! I'm going to get my programmer to work on the smell-a-vision next ; ) Happy Friday!
Such a lovely post & tribute to that sweet lady who took such great care of you. Thin crust pizzas are my favorite – I love to focus on toppings, so this recipe would be perfect for me! XO
Georgia, I’m looking for a good beer crust recipe I can put on the grill. Do you happen to have any?
I’ve done beer batter but not quite beer crust I don’t think…. I’ll have to think on it and conjure something tasty up for ya.
Yum! Pizza recipes sure have been floating around the blogosphere. I think pizza and wine sound perfect for a Friday night dinner! I’ll have to give this crust a try. Do you think it would work with whole wheat pastry flour?
Mmm, pizza and wine = yes. And yes to the whole wheat flour, it won’t be quite as delicate but definitely more healthy 🙂
Ty for this …made one batch , figured i messed up with the yeast , but decided to go for it and made another while two were cooking …lolol first 2 came out great , now ill freeze other batch for the future ..ty again
Wonderful! There’s nothing like a good thin crust pizza.
Georg Peach! What a sweet piece about auntie. We love You so much!, looks like you did a darn good job with the pizza!, you’re amazing! Love to Judd. Etta