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The Kitchenman: It's all in the dough when it comes to good pizza

The Kitchenman offers a couple of variations to make the perfect pizza crust

Pizza. Who doesn't like their favourite, topped with pepperoni, bacon mushrooms and all covered with some bubbly gooey cheese blend sitting on a perfect woodfire baked crust pedestal. My first bite of a pizza started back 60 years ago by Spud Bush at Pepi's Pizza. It was pure bliss then and still is today.

Nothing tops a plain pizza and there's many pizza lovers that choose the simplest form which is just fine. Others like to top theirs with all kinds of flavoured charcuterie, roasted vegetables and cheeses. And what about the vegans with a non gluten cauliflower crust and a fava bean hummus tofu sauce topped with organic micro greens?

I was happy to be treated to a Buon Gusto pizza by a good friend 10 years ago. Since then I have returned many times enjoying the seasonal menu changes with the popular outdoor patio.

From the mouthwatering salads and pasta dishes, grilled octopus and fried calamari all have been most excellent. But the Gusto's pizza pie comes from a wood fired oven baked perfectly with a hint of wood smoke and topped with authentic mouthwatering toppings.

What makes a great pizza beside the sauce and toppings comes down to the dough crust. Some like a thin crust or a thick deep dish baked dough. I favour a hot wood fired pillowy soft crust. Most of the restaurants that I have cooked at had some form of a pizza on the menu. Now popular flatbread or non gluten vegetable crusts are available.

Here are some well tested dough recipes that are user friendly getting you started at making your own personal pizza.

thekitchenman Easy Pizza Dough!

You will need:
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/3 cups warm water
3 3/4 cups unbleached bread flour or hard whole wheat
1 tbs fresh olive oil
1 tbs sea salt
1 tbs sugar for Chicago-style puffy crust
Combine the yeast and the warm water in a large bowl.
Let stand for 5 - 10 minutes until yeast is dissolved and is starting to foam up.
Mix in the rest of the ingredients.
Mix until it’s all holding together.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8-9 minutes.
The dough should be smooth and elastic, tacky, not sticky!
Transfer it over to a bowl with the olive oil and turn the dough over to coat completely.
Cover with a clean and floured cotton dish towel and let rise near the oven until it's about doubled in volume.
Punch the dough down and divide it in half.
Roll your dough into a ball and let it rest, covered, for about 10-15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 500 F. Dust your baking stone or baking sheet with cornmeal which is important to do this for a crispier crust.
Now roll it out flat. Shape and load with your favourite toppings. Bake until the edges turn golden, about 7-10 minutes. Pierce any rising dough bubbles.
Try this dough recipe on a stone in your BBQ.

Zucchini Crust Pizza

This crust is so good you’ll be tempted to just eat it as is!

Olive oil and flour for the pan

2 cups packed grated zucchini

2 eggs, beaten

1/3 cup flour

½ cup grated mozzarella

½ cup grated parmesan

Optional: dried basil or marjoram

2 Tbsp. olive oil

Toppings: tomato sauce, cheese and standard pizza toppings

Preheat oven to 400 F. Oil a 10-inch pie pan and coat lightly with flour. Combine zucchini, eggs, flour, mozzarella, Parmesan, herbs and one tablespoon of oil in a bowl and mix together thoroughly. Spread mixture in prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. Halfway through baking, remove from the oven, brush with remaining one tablespoon of oil. Return to the oven. Remove crust from oven; let cool for 10 minutes before using a spatula to loosen it from the pan. Add chosen pizza toppings and bake again for 10 minutes until heated through and the cheese melts.