I T WAS A FRIDAY night when Terry Walters found
herself with a group of hungry kids and no menu
plan. Inspired by the artisan pizza trend, Walters
went with what she had on hand and baked personal
polenta crusts. ;en she made a toppings bar using
everything in her fridge—pesto, spinach, basil
leaves, red onion, spring garlic, fresh mozzarella and
grated Parmesan—so all of the kids could design
their own. Walters, the author of Clean Start
(Sterling Epicure, 2010), remembers she stepped up
from being the mom who made her kids eat healthy
stu; to a new level of cool that night.
Artisan pizza can be dinner for one or the foundation of a party. “The artisan [part] is doing it yourself, the quality of ingredients and the quality of the
outcome,” explains Zoë François, a Costco member
who is a pastry chef and co-author of Artisan Pizza
and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day with Jeff
Hertzberg (Thomas Dunne Books, 2011).
Artisan pizzas satisfy the pickiest eaters
Basic Pizza Dough
Warm the water slightly: It should
feel just a little warmer than body
Add yeast and salt to the water in
a lidded (not airtight) plastic food
container or food grade bucket.
Don’t worry about getting them to
Add all of the flour and mix with
a wooden spoon, a 14-cup food
processor (with dough attachment)
or a heavy-duty stand mixer (with
paddle). Don’t knead; it isn’t necessary. You’re finished when everything is uniformly moistened,
without dry patches.
Allow the dough to rise: Cover the
dough with a lid (not airtight) but
leave it open a crack for the first 48
hours to prevent a buildup of gases;
after that you can usually seal it. Do
not punch down the dough.
After rising, refrigerate the dough
and use it over the next 14 days; it
will develop sourdough characteristics over that time. Fully refrigerated wet dough is less sticky and
is easier to work with than dough
at room temperature.
The dough can also be frozen in
½-pound portions in an airtight
container for up to four weeks;
defrost overnight in the refrigerator
prior to baking day. Makes enough
dough for eight 12-inch pizzas.
3½ cups lukewarm water
(no hotter than 100 F)
1 tablespoon granulated yeast
1 to 1½ tablespoons kosher salt
7½ cups (scoop and sweep)
unbleached all-purpose flour
Flour, cornmeal or parchment
paper for the pizza peel
There are as many pizza-making strategies as
there are combinations, but the starting point for
any pizza is its base or crust.
Pre-baked crusts, tortillas, flatbreads and
English muffins are excellent for hurried evenings or
for using up leftovers. But fresh dough is surprisingly simple and offers a level of control over what
goes in. Mixing flour, yeast, salt and water doesn’t
take a lot of extra time or exotic appliances. François
and Hertzberg offer an easy method to make dough
that can be stored in the refrigerator and used over
the course of two weeks (see recipe).
Once the crust is set, add sauce, spices, cheeses,
produce and meat—in that order—or follow your
whim. “You can create an entire meal in 15 minutes,
and that includes baking,” François says.
Cook it up
Most cooks have all the essential tools in their
kitchens already. Number one is heat—as hot as you
can make your oven. This is possibly the most
important element of a great pizza. High heat echoes
the style of cooking used in Neapolitan pizza ovens.
It helps cook pizzas evenly in just minutes. With
fresh dough rolled into a thin pizza base, high heat
can create that crispy crust. Experimenting with heat
settings allows you to perfect your pizza’s crust.
A pizza stone (or a grill or a heavy cookie sheet,
such as Nordic Ware) delivers heat to cook that
crust. A pizza peel (think pizza shovel) makes it easy
to slide that prepared pie into the oven—a cutting
board or a cookie sheet without sides would be
good stand-ins for a peel. Tongs work great for pulling cooked pizzas onto a serving tray.
When assembling your pizza, make sure the
pizza dough will slide. A sprinkle of flour or cornmeal will do the trick (the goal is to keep enough
flour or cornmeal beneath the pizza so when you
transfer the assembled pizza to the stone or other
cooking surface, it doesn’t stick).
Let yourself play. Toss the dough in the air or
flatten it with your hands or your grandmother’s
rolling pin. Forget perfect circles: Focus on the
melding of flavors and you can’t mess it up. Let go
of what you know, and let the process and the pizza
nourish your senses and your soul.
“It’s like an artist’s palette,” Walters says. “You
can do anything with it. You’re only limited by your
own imagination.” C
Costco member Sarah Tieck is a Twin
Cities–based writer and editor who
has authored more than 50 nonfiction books for children.
58 ;e Costco Connection MARCH 2012 APRIL 2012
Recipe adapted from Artisan Pizza
and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day,
copyright 2011 Jeff Hertzberg and
Zoë François. The authors answer
questions on pizza and all things
bread at PizzaIn5.com.