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Three Quick Pizzas
Copyright 2002 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved. Originally printed March 14, 2002. For more information go to

First I'll summarize the pizza crust, followed by quick procedures for three different toppings.

Pizza Dough

1 1/4 cups all-purpose or bread flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsps dry yeast (about 1/2 of a packet)
1/3 cup warm water (about 120F or 50C)
1 tsp sugar or honey
Additional warm water
Olive oil

Stir the sugar or honey into the 1/3 cup warm water. Sprinkle on the yeast and stir it in with a fork until dissolved. Set aside for a few moments until it starts to bubble and foam. Put the flour in a bowl and stir in the salt. Scoop a "well" in the middle of the flour, stir in the yeast liquid, and stir to mix; continue adding warm water, a little at a time, until you have just enough to hold the dough together in a rough mass.

Knead it by folding over and pressing down, first in the bowl and then on a floured board or countertop, adding a little more flour if necessary, until the dough is smooth and dry. This small amount will be easy to knead and shouldn't require more than five minutes' work, if that. Flatten it into a thick, pizza-shaped disk and leave it to rest under a clean dish towel while you work on the toppings and pre-heat the oven to 450F.

When your toppings are ready, smear about 1 tablespoon olive oil on a clean surface such as your countertop. Take the round of dough, which should have "relaxed" and now will be a bit easier to work with, and put it down on the oiled surface, pressing it out into a larger, thin round, leaving a thicker rim around the edge. Transfer it onto a cookie sheet rubbed with a little olive oil, gently nudge it into a reasonable approximation of a circle, and load with topping ingredients. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the crust is a dark golden brown. Slide onto a serving plate, cut into slices and serve.

Yield: 2 servings

Topping 1: Pizza Marherita

5 or 6 fresh plum tomatoes, sliced thin
1/2 cup diced tomatoes, canned or fresh in season
4 ozs mozzarella cheese, preferably fresh, sliced in thin rounds
1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
salt and pepper
a sprig of fresh basil leaves or, if you must, 1/2 teaspoon dried basil

Purportedly representing the red, white and green colors of the Italian flag, this is nothing more than a pizza topped with fresh tomatoes, basil and cheese. When your pizza crust is ready, place the mozzarella slices directly on the crust. Top with the sliced tomatoes and diced tomatoes and finish by sprinkling on the cheese with salt and pepper to taste. Bake as directed, and sprinkle on the basil just before serving.

Topping II: Mushrooms and Goat Cheese

12 ozs fresh mushrooms
1 large clove of garlic
1 red bell pepper, sliced into long strips
Olive oil
salt and pepper
4 ozs mozzarella cheese, preferably fresh
2 ozs mild goat cheese
2 ozs yogurt

Rinse and dry the mushrooms, and slice them thickly. Saute the mushrooms, red pepper strips and smashed garlic clove in olive oil (if you're watching calories, you can get away with no more than 1 tablespoon in a nonstick pan, adding a little water during the process if things get too dry). Mix the goat cheese and yogurt together and slice the mozzarella into thin rounds.

Arrange the mozzarella rounds neatly on the pizza, and spread on the goat-cheese and yogurt mix. Top with the sauteed mushrooms and peppers. Bake as directed.

Topping III: Flammenkuchen

1/2 cup sour cream
1 egg
6 strips cooked bacon
1 large red onion, sliced into thin rings
salt and pepper

Stir the egg with a fork until it's slightly frothy, and stir it in to the sour cream. Spread it on the pizza dough. Cover with the sliced onions and sprinkle on the bacon, crumbled into small bits. Bake.

Note that this variation, because of the cream, requires a different approach to avoid scorching: Put the pizza in a COLD oven, set the heat to 300F and cook for 15 minutes; then increase heat to 400F and cook for another 15 minutes or until the crust edge is golden brown. Keep an eye on it as it may not need that much time.

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