Thursday, March 24, 2011

Eat: Monday Night Pizzas

Sometimes I think that the universe handed me Monday nights to teach me a lesson about appreciating what I have.

Mondays are when the childrens' activities all converge, my husband has an evening class and all falls to me.  I am responsible for the carting around, the coordinating, the refereeing, the cleaning, the overseeing of homework, and the feeding, all while trying to ease back into my own work week.

When I find myself coveting, say, roomy new construction on a cul-de-sac, an island vacation over February break, or maybe a grocery budget that allowed for the purchase of brand name cereals, I remind myself of Mondays because I'd rather do without on my husband's teacher salary than take on more than one day a week as the only grown-up on kid duty in exchange for travelling, suit-wearing money.

This pizza has kept me from feeling like a complete failure on those Monday evenings.  Sure, I use prepared sauces, but it doesn't come out of the freezer and it didn't appear from the drive-thru window, and it even allows for a little quality time during the preparation.  On a Monday that's more than I could ask for.

Monday Night Pizza

the crust:
3 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup warm water
1 packet rapid rise yeast
1 teaspoon of honey
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
1 tablespoon of olive oil (plus more for brushing before baking)
cornmeal for dusting the cooking surface

the sauce:

prepared pizza sauce and/or prepared pesto sauce

the cheese and toppings:

2 cups of shredded mozzarella and/or several slices of fresh mozzarella

Optional toppings: fresh herbs, sliced tomatoes, prosciutto, pepperoni, leftover roasted vegetables, pretty much anything that sounds good to you

to make the dough:
Because of the rising time involved, I make the dough a day ahead and have made it as many as three days ahead with good results.

  • Dissolve the honey in 1/4 cup of tap water that is very warm but not hot.  I don't have a thermometer but judge it by sticking my finger in the flow from the tap; when it feels very warm but not so hot that I want to pull my finger from the stream, it's good.
  • Add the yeast to the water and honey.  Within about five minutes the yeast should appear foamy.
  • While you are waiting for the yeast, mix the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment.
  • When the yeast is ready, pour it into the flour and salt mixture, along with 3/4 cup warm tap water and the tablesoon of olive oil.  Mix with the paddle attachment until just combined.
  • Switch to the dough hook and mix on slow speed for a few minutes, until the dough creeps up the hook.
  • Remove the dough to a lightly oiled bowl.  Turn the dough so that it, too, is lightly oiled and cover with a clean dish towel.  Leave it to rise for an hour; it should approximately double in size.
  • Knead the dough back down to size on a floured cutting board and then slice the ball into four equal pieces.  Roll the four pieces into balls, line them up on the cutting board, cover with a dampened dishcloth and allow them to rise for another hour. 
  • Knead the dough balls bak down to size, wrap individually and refrigerate.
for the pizza:

  • Preheat the oven to 500.
  • Prepare two cookie sheets by lightly spraying with olive oil or cooking spray and dusting with corn meal.
  • Roll out the dough on a floured surface, making four rounds, and put two on each cookie sheet.
  • Brush each round with a light coating of olive oil.  The kids like to do this part. Once I've rolled out the dough, I let them join me but usually lay out the cheese and toppings ahead of time so that I can contain the mess as much as possible.
  • Use the back of a spoon to spread a thin layer of sauce on each pizza.  The kids like traditional pizza sauce and my husband and I usually have pesto.
  • Top with cheese --shredded mozzarella for the girls, fresh for my husband and I. (Use the fresh mozzarella sparingly as the high moisture content can make it messy when it melts.)   Add any additional toppings along with the cheese.
  • Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the crust is golden brown.
  • Let it rest for a few minutes before cutting and serving so that the cheese stays intact.  Kitchen shears are great for the slicing.


  1. I think my Monday's would be better off with your pizza.

  2. Sounds nice, can the dough be made in a breadmaker instead of with the mixer? I have one with a dough setting, but no mixer like that. :)

    Sarah S.

  3. Carole--Join me for pizza and chaos any Monday!

    Sarah-- I've never used a bread machine, but I think it would work similarly. The fun part is the rolling and the topping, anyway.