Vinnie’s Pizza, in Greenpoint, makes a delicious specialty pizza that they call “The Farmer’s Daughter,” with spinach, sun dried tomatoes, portabellas, and goat cheese. Inspired by it, I decided to make my own version at home, using ingredients I had on hand for my Mediterranean dinner week. I made a simple, chunky sauce of olive oil, crushed garlic, halved grape tomatoes, fresh chopped basil and a pinch of sea salt. My toppings consisted of steamed chopped spinach, olives, roasted garlic, sun dried tomatoes, feta, and fresh mozzarella.
I’ve recently been straying from my whole wheat pizza dough, and making a dough using “farina tipo 00” that I buy at Buon Italia in Chelsea Market. It’s about $3.00 for a 1000 gram bag of it, so while it’s a bit more expensive than regular flours, it’s not outrageous, and it’s absolutely worth it. It’s a super fine flour and the resulting dough is incredibly smooth and elastic– not at all grainy– and easy to roll out to a very thin crust. If you can’t find it, try using 3 parts all purpose flour to 1 part cake flour instead.
I’ve also been making my pizzas in the broiler, on a preheated cast iron griddle. The griddle gets super hot but is more durable than a pizza stone (which are great for retaining heat, but may crack from the high heat of the broiler), and the high temperature of the broiler gets closer to the high temperatures of a traditional pizza oven than my regular oven can. It also makes it easy to assemble the pizza, because I can carefully remove the hot griddle from the preheated broiler, and place it on the stove over a high flame while I assemble the pizza. Then, I place it back in the broiler. This process is fast– it takes just one and a half to three minutes to cook, depending on how close to the broiler flame your pan is set– and you want to be sure to check on it so that your pizza doesn’t burn.
The dough doesn’t take long to make, but it really is best if you let it rise at least 4 hours– even better over night. It will take 20 minutes to make in the morning, and then you’ll be all set for dinner.
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar or honey
- 4 cups of type “00” flour (or 3 cups all-purpose and 1 cup cake flour)
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- Extra virgin olive oil.
In a small bowl or glass, combine the water, yeast, and sugar/ honey, and let stand for five minutes. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix the flour and salt. Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture and knead it on low speed for 15 minutes. Transfer the dough to a round, lightly oiled bowl, and cover with a cloth and rubber band. Let rise for at least four hours in a warm place. (I place mine on top of the gas stove range, which is always slightly warm because of the pilot lights.) Punch down the dough, and divide into four balls. Cover and let rise again for at least one hour. (You can do this as you prepare your sauce and toppings.)
Preheat the broiler to high, with a cast iron griddle inside. Roll out a piece of dough. Carefully (use heavy duty potholders/ oven mitts!) remove the griddle from the broiler and place on the stove over a high flame. Sprinkle with semolina or corn meal (it will smoke) and place the pizza dough on it. Add sauce, toppings, and cheese. Place in broiler for 1 1/2 to 3 minutes. Remove and garnish with fresh basil, additional olive oil, and sea salt. Buon appetito!