Food, family, crafts, and other stuff we like


Saturday, July 31, 2010

Cornmeal Pizza Crust

I have been wanting to try a cornmeal pizza dough for a while, I love the crunch and flavor of cornmeal in a crust. Have you ever tried the amazing cornmeal crust pizza at the Hayes Street Grill/Vicolo Pizza stand at the Ferry Building Farmers Market? Or the crust at Little Star, deep dish crunchy cornmeal, with some of the best chunky tomato sauce. Sigh...
We have been making our own pizzas for a few years now, and I had always used the recipe in Alice Water's cookbook, Fanny at Chez Panisse as my guide, tweaking it along the way until I found I had the perfect classic pizza dough. I found Martha Stewart's cornmeal crust recipe in a magazine recently, and vowed to try it out. I found it was somewhat close to the version I normally use with the addition of cornmeal.
It turned out amazingly, and I now can almost hardly imagine a crust without the golden deliciousness of cornmeal.
The original recipe is can be found by searching for Cornmeal Pizza Crust at
I am going to post my version of it below, as I follow the steps a little differently. Martha's recipe states that it makes four seven-inch pizzas, but I only got two out of it. I would recommend doubling or tripling the recipe if you want leftovers or to freeze some dough balls for another day.

Makes two medium sized pizzas

2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
2/3 cups warm water
1 tablespoon milk
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus a bit more
1/4 cup cornmeal, plus a bit more
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for bowl

  1. Mix flour and yeast together in a large bowl with a whisk. 
  2. Combine sugar, warm water, milk, and olive oil in separate bowl.
  3. Add cornmeal and salt to the flour and yeast mixture. Add the liquid mixture slowly to the dry ingredients, stirring all the while.
  4. Slowly blend ingredients with a wooden spoon or hands until the dough starts to stick together. 
  5. Spread some flour on a table and turn the dough out onto it. Knead with your hands until the dough becomes smooth, adding more flour to hands and dough if it becomes sticky. Knead for 5 to 10 minutes.
  6. Divide dough in two balls. Rub oil into the sides of a bowl and the dough. Cover with plastic wrap or damp towels, and let rise for an hour or until dough is doubled in size. (Or overnight in the refrigerator.)
  7. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. If you have a pizza stone make sure it is in the oven now. If not you can make the pizzas right onto a baking sheet.
  8. Stretch or roll the dough into rounds of desired thickness. 
  9. We like to use parchment paper sprinkled with cornmeal to create the pizzas on, as they make it easy to slide straight onto the pizza stone and out again when its done. If you dont have parchment paper just use plenty of cornmeal if you will be transferring to a stone. If you are baking in a pan, just a sprinkle is fine to keep it from sticking.
  10. Cover pizza with toppings of your choice.
  11. Slide pizza onto pizza stone or place pan in oven. Bake for about 7 to 10 minutes until toppings are browned and bubbling, and crust is golden. 
  12. Cool for a few minutes before cutting. 

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Ahh, summer...

Yes indeed, summertime is upon us.  Ice cream cones in flip flops, steaks on the grill, buttery corn, kiddie pools, fresh juicy peaches, the Fourth of July (our awesome new island town, Alameda, has a big old fashioned 4th of July Parade!  I'm over-the-top excited.)

But nothing spells SUMMER like Insalata Caprese.  Big tie-dyed heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzarella chunks, aromatic sliced basil, olive oil, salt, pepper, red wine...

We ventured to SF two weekends ago via Ferry and landed at, well, the Ferry Building, where my dear mother-in-law was keen enough to spot a mountain of heirloom tomatoes at the Farm Fresh to You counter.  We snagged a couple loafs of Acme Bread and went on our merry way to the 4th annual chili cook-off between Alembic, Bar Tartine, Magnolia, Maverick, Slow Club, Romolo and The Pizza Place on Noriega in Golden Gate Park.  Chef Matt Kerley, dear comrade and husband to Bee Sting Cake's very own Amy Kerley, took first place, representing Magnolia!  Way to go Matty!

Anyway, we made it home with our tomato and bread booty and I have been OBSESSED ever since.  I can think of no other thing to satisfy me come about 3 pm.  I. MUST. HAVE. MY. CAPRESE. NOW.
And I do.  And so will you once you get out to your local farmer's market and pick up about a dozen heirloom tomatoes and some fresh bread.  Join me.

I even had to supplement with the mini heirloom tomatoes pictured here and it is still delicious.

I love the Italians.  Wine and deliciousness in the afternoon.  MMM.