June: Heirloom Tomato Pizza

Summertime: the tomatoes are ripe, and the baking’s easy. Time to dive deep into pizza, the best way to turn a simple recipe of tomatoes, cheese, and dough into a champion meal. Our pizza dough gets its delightfully chewy texture from a blend of Bob’s Red Mill Semolina Flour and Bob’s Red Mill Organic All-Purpose Flour. We look at two ways to knead, two ways to bake, and two ways to portion your pizza, offering endless options for a fantastically flexible pizza recipe. Get ready to play with your food—the Better Baking way. Click here to download a printable PDF of this lesson, or keep scrolling to view our digital lesson.

Ingredient Breakdown

Great recipes require great ingredients. Here’s how each ingredient helps create a chewy, crisp pizza crust worthy of any cheesy topping.

BOB’S RED MILL ORGANIC ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR: This versatile all-purpose wheat flour has a protein content of 10% to 12%. It’s a vital baking ingredient that provides structure, absorbs liquid, and adds color, flavor, and nutritional value. All-purpose flour adds a softness to the dough, keeping it from being too tough.

BOB’S RED MILL SEMOLINA FLOUR: High in gluten and fantastically elastic, semolina flour is made from durum wheat. Often used in pasta-making, semolina has a golden hue that comes from carotenoids, a compound that gives carrots and apricots their signature color. Bob’s Red Mill Semolina Flour is made from the finest durum wheat and is an excellent choice for Italian-style breads. In addition to giving our pizza dough superior chew and texture, it also gives the dough a slightly sweet, rich flavor and an appealing buttery color.

INSTANT YEAST: In contrast to active dry yeast, instant yeast contains 25% more living yeast cells because it is processed more gently. A single-celled organism, yeast will grow and multiply when it receives the following: moisture, food (sugar and carbs), and warmth. It leavens the dough by converting carbohydrates into carbon dioxide gas and alcohol. We use the dry blending method, where yeast is whisked into other dry ingredients and then wet ingredients at a higher temperature are added all at once.

KOSHER SALT: As a general rule of thumb, the ratio of salt to flour in breads is 1.8% to 2% of flour weight. It’s important to weigh your salt because different salt crystals measure differently. Dough without enough salt easily overferments. Salt also helps with crust color and enhances flavor.

GRANULATED SUGAR: The sugar feeds the yeast. Using sugar makes this an enriched pizza dough.

WARM WATER (120°F/49°C TO 130°F/54°C): Moisture, in the form of warm water, is needed to activate the yeast. It also hydrates the dough so the gluten can develop, converting to steam in the oven to help leaven the dough and prevent the crust from forming too quickly and burning.

EXTRA-VIRGIN OLIVE OIL: Extra-virgin olive oil plays a number of parts in our pizza dough. Extra-virgin olive oil is the finest-produced olive oil from the first press and contains only 1% acid. Smooth, with a fruity flavor, the color ranges from golden yellow to pale green. Olive oil enriches our dough with fat and adds savory flavor. Olive oil also makes the dough more elastic, lubricating the dough so it is easier to stretch. Finally, brushing the dough with olive oil before adding toppings helps create a barrier and keeps moisture from effecting the dough, making a crispier crust.

Tools of the Trade

The best equipment to have on hand for any and all pizza-making

PIZZA PEEL: The easiest way to transport your pizza from baking stone to table? A pizza peel. Whether round or featuring a rounded-edge rectangle, these peels work like enormous spatulas to help transport your pizza with no fuss and no mess.

PIZZA STONE: A pizza stone is the best way to bring the benefits of a hearth oven to your home kitchen. The pizza stone conducts and consolidates heat within the oven, maintaining a steady high temperature that’ll create a very crisp, golden crust and evenly baked pizza. Preheating your stone is essential, as it needs time to get up to the proper temperature before helping bake your pizza.

BAKING SHEET: You’re used to baking within the rimmed walls of your baking sheet, but for our pizza recipe, we ask you to use this trusty pan as a makeshift pizza peel. Turned upside down, the baking sheet bottom creates a long, level surface for your large pizza to be prepared on before being slid onto the piping hot pizza stone

Heirloom Tomato Pizza
 
Makes 1 (16-inch) pizza
Ingredients
  • 2½ cups (313 grams) Bob’s Red Mill Organic All-Purpose Flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 cup (155 grams) Bob’s Red Mill Semolina Flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2½ teaspoons (7.5 grams) kosher salt, plus more for salting tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons (6 grams) instant yeast
  • 2 teaspoons (8 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1¼ cups (300 grams) warm water (120°F/49°C to 130°F/54°C)
  • 5 tablespoons (70 grams) extra-virgin olive oil, divided 1 tablespoon (10 grams) minced garlic
  • 1 pound (454 grams) heirloom tomatoes
  • ¾ cup (85 grams) shredded fontina cheese
  • ½ cup (57 grams) shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups (226 grams) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • Garnish: fresh basil, crushed red pepper, flaked sea salt
Instructions
  1. Position oven rack in bottom third of oven. Place pizza stone in cold oven. Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C). Let stone heat for 1 hour before using.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, semolina flour, kosher salt, yeast, and sugar. Make a well in center; add 1¼ cups (300 grams) warm water and 2 tablespoons (28 grams) oil. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, stir until a shaggy dough forms. Turn out dough onto a heavily floured surface. Using floured hands, flatten dough until about 1 inch thick. Fold dough in half toward you; using heels of your hands, push dough away. Turn 90 degrees, and repeat flattening, folding, and pushing until smooth and elastic, 5 to 6 minutes, lightly flouring work surface and hands as needed.
  3. Lightly oil a large bowl. Place dough in bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size, 30 to 45 minutes.
  4. Place a rimmed baking sheet upside down, and heavily dust with semolina flour. (Alternatively, use a cookie sheet heavily dusted with semolina flour.)
  5. In a small bowl, combine minced garlic and remaining 3 tablespoons (42 grams) oil. Set aside.
  6. Using a serrated knife, slice tomatoes ⅛ to ¼ inch thick, and place in a single layer on a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt. (If you run out of space, place a layer of paper towels on top of tomatoes, and top with remaining tomato slices).
  7. Punch down dough, and let stand for 5 minutes. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, and using floured hands, press dough out until about 1 inch thick. Using floured hands, stretch dough into a 16x12-inch oval. Place on prepared baking sheet. Lightly brush garlic oil onto dough. Sprinkle with fontina, Parmesan, and 1 cup (113 grams) mozzarella, leaving a ½ -inch border around edges.
  8. Lightly brush remaining garlic oil onto tomato slices; place on top of cheese, overlapping as needed. Top with remaining 1 cup (113 grams) mozzarella. Slide pizza directly onto pizza stone. (See Note.)
  9. Bake until crust is golden and cheese is melted, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes. Garnish with basil, red pepper, and sea salt, if desired. Serve hot.
Notes
You can pull your preheated pizza stone out of the oven and place on a heat resistant surface to transfer your pizza onto the stone outside of the oven. Then place the pizza stone back into the oven for baking.

 

Knead to Know: Hand Method

We love our stand mixer, but sometimes, just your hands will do. This dough needs a slow kneading, not the fast track, so enjoy this methodical time handling it.

1. In a large bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, semolina flour, kosher salt, yeast, and sugar. Make a well in center; add 1¼ cups (300 grams) warm water and 2 tablespoons (28 grams) oil. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, stir until a shaggy dough forms.

2. Turn out dough onto a heavily floured surface. Using floured hands, flatten dough until about 1 inch thick. You will need to re-flour your hands and the work surface a lot in the beginning and sparingly toward the end. Keep your all-purpose flour on hand.

3. Fold dough in half toward you; using heels of your hands, push dough away. This is the basic hand movement for all kneading and can be used on many other bread doughs. As you fold and push (a.k.a. knead) your dough, you’re activating and developing the gluten in the dough, creating that signature chewiness key to a pizza.

4. Turn 90 degrees, and repeat flattening, folding, and pushing until smooth and elastic, 5 to 6 minutes, lightly flouring work surface and hands as needed. Don’t rush— you can go from smooth to tearing the dough pretty quickly, so go slow and pay attention to the dough. The dough will start to get smooth around 4 minutes into kneading, but it is not elastic yet. Knead for about 1 minute more, and watch as it gets smoother and elastic. Perform a finger dent test to see if your dough is ready. Simply poke the dough and watch for it to spring back to show a properly kneaded dough.

Knead to Know: Stand Mixer Method

If you’re looking for a hands-off approach to your dough, turn to your trusty stand mixer.

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whisk together all-purpose flour, semolina flour, kosher salt, yeast, and sugar. Add 1¼ cups (300 grams) warm water and 2 tablespoons (20 grams) oil, and beat at low speed until a shaggy dough forms. We use the paddle attachment to incorporate ingredients to decrease overall kneading time.

2. Switch to the dough hook attachment, and beat at low speed until dough is elastic and pulls away from sides and bottom of bowl, 3 to 4 minutes. The sound of the dough should be used as indicator. The dough will slap or knock against the sides of the bowl as a sign it’s close to being properly kneaded.

3. Add up to ¼ cup (31 grams) all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon (8 grams) at a time, if dough is too sticky. Because absorbent flour is highly sensitive to moisture—even the humidity in the air—you’ll find that adding an exact amount of flour to create the perfect dough will vary from time to time. Sometimes you’ll add 1 tablespoon of flour, other times the full ¼ cup. Be cognizant of your dough’s stickiness after adding each tablespoon of flour. In the hand- kneading method, this extra flour comes in the form of the floured surface and your floured hands.

Shape and Bake

You’ve kneaded and proofed your dough—now, it’s time to stretch, shape, and bake.

1. Place a rimmed baking sheet upside down, and heavily dust with semolina flour. Semolina flour is an excellent flour to dust your hearty breads with before baking. It acts as a nice barrier to keep your dough from sticking to your pans or burning the bottom of the dough.

2. In a small bowl, combined minced garlic and remaining 3 tablespoons (42 grams) oil. Set aside. The garlic will infuse your oil as you let it sit, flavoring the fruity olive oil with a touch of fresh garlic.

3. Using a serrated knife, slice tomatoes ⅛ to ¼ inch thick, and place in a single layer on a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt. (If you run out of space, place a layer of paper towels on top of tomatoes, and top with remaining tomato slices). The salt helps pull out excess moisture and the paper towels then absorb it. This will help you avoid a soggy pizza.

4. Punch down dough, and let stand for 5 minutes. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, and using floured hands, press dough out until about 1 inch thick. Using floured hands, stretch dough into a 16×12-inch oval. To stretch, first, shape dough into a disk. Place the disk on top of your knuckles and stretch outward, rotating slightly between stretches. As it gets larger, you can let the dough hang off your knuckles and let the weight of the dough help stretch it. Pay attention to the thickness of the dough. If one area is thicker than others, focus on stretching more in that area.

5. Place on prepared baking sheet. Lightly brush garlic oil onto dough. Sprinkle with fontina, Parmesan, and 1 cup (113 grams) mozzarella, leaving a ½-inch border around edges. The border you leave will become your crust edges, so be conscious of not placing your cheese too close to the edge.

6. Lightly brush remaining garlic oil onto tomato slices; place on top of cheese, overlapping as needed. Top with remaining 1 cup (113 grams) mozzarella. Slide pizza directly onto pizza stone. Layering the tomatoes between two coats of cheese helps keep them from making the crust soggy or from getting overcooked if placed on top.

7. Bake until crust is golden and cheese is melted, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes. Garnish with basil, red pepper, and sea salt, if desired. Serve hot. Fresh basil, red pepper, and sea salt are the perfect final touches to your well-baked pizza.

Grill It!

Looking to up your pizza game? Take the party outdoors and fire up the grill. Follow our steps below to learn how to grill it with panache.

1. Proceed with recipe through step 6, omitting step 1. Punch down dough, and let stand for 5 minutes. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and roll or stretch dough into a 16×12-inch oval. Place on prepared baking sheet.

2. Preheat grill to high heat (400°F/200°C to 450°F/230°C).

3. Brush grill rack with canola oil. Slide pizza dough onto grill. Grill over direct heat, covered with grill lid, until lightly browned on bottom and bubbles are forming on top, 2 to3 minutes.

4. Using a large spatula or small pizza peel, remove dough from grill, and return to baking sheet. Using a second baking sheet or pizza peel, turn dough grilled side up. (Make sure to keep grill lid closed to maintain heat.) Lightly brush dough with garlic oil. Sprinkle with fontina, Parmesan, and 1 cup (113 grams) mozzarella cheese, leaving a ½-inch border around edges.

5. Lightly brush remaining garlic oil onto tomatoes; place on top of cheese, overlapping as needed. Top with remaining 1 cup (113 grams) mozzarella cheese.

6. Slide pizza onto grill. Reduce heat to medium (300°F/150°C to 350°F/180°C), and grill, covered with grill lid, until bottom crust is deep brown and cheese is melted, 2 to 3 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

Freeze It!

Having pizza dough on hand offers dinner on demand. Here’s how to freeze your dough to use at a later date.

1. Proceed with recipe through step 3. Punch down dough, and shape into a round (or divide in half, and shape each half into a round). Immediately wrap in a double layer of plastic wrap, and place in a resealable plastic freezer bag. Freeze for up to 1 month.

2. Unwrap and place in a large bowl (or 2 mediums bowls, if divided). Cover and let thaw in refrigerator overnight. Before stretching dough, let stand, covered, at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes.

Prep Ahead

For a fuss-free meal, make your dough the day before.

If you are new to stretching dough, it is nice to start with chilled dough (slower to stretch, so it is harder to tear if you are new to the method). Proceed with recipe through step 3. Punch down dough, and shape into a round (or divide in half, and shape each half into a round). Return to oiled bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight. Before stretching dough, let stand, covered, at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes. Keep in mind that you have to preheat the pizza stone for 1 hour before baking so the bottom of the pizza gets crispy and browns correctly.

Make It a Double

Transform your 16-inch large pizza into 2 (10-inch) pizzas with the following directions.

1. Punch down dough, and let stand for 5 minutes. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and divide in half (about 418 grams each). Stretch 1 portion into a 10-inch circle. (Keep remaining portion covered to prevent it from drying out.) Place on prepared baking sheet. Lightly brush garlic oil (about 1 tablespoon) onto dough. Sprinkle with half of fontina (about 43 grams), half of Parmesan (about 28 grams), and ½ cup (57 grams) mozzarella, leaving a ½-inch border around edges.

2. Lightly brush garlic oil (about 1 tablespoon) onto tomatoes; place half of tomatoes on top of cheese layer, overlapping as needed. Top with ½ cup (57 grams) mozzarella.

3. Bake until bottom crust is deep golden brown and cheese is melted, 12 to 15 minutes, rotating halfway through baking. Let cool for 5 minutes. Garnish with basil, red pepper, and sea salt, if desired. Serve hot. Leave oven on.

4. Repeat procedure with remaining dough, remaining garlic oil, remaining cheese, and remaining tomatoes.

5. Bake until bottom crust deep golden brown and cheese is melted, 12 to 15 minutes, rotating halfway through baking. Let cool for 5 minutes. Garnish with basil, red pepper, and sea salt, if desired. Serve hot.

 

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Rate this recipe:  

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.