Kitchen Focus

People are sometimes surprised when I tell them that one of the most involved things I make in my kitchen is pizza. Of course, I'm not talking about throwing a bunch of toppings on a pre-made crust or a water and mix pouch. What I am talking about is a wonderfully chewy homemade crust that's been topped with a selection of toppings that are chosen to make the heart sing.

While this recipe is time consuming, it is very worth it. By and large, when I am in the mood for pizza, this is what I am thinking of ... and it's rare that you will find its equal in any but the occasional Italian cafe or the like. And when you consider that the toppings you choose are under your own control, suddenly planning a bit ahead and being patient for that slice of homemade bliss seems so worth it!!!

Homemade Pizza

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon pure olive oil
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 3 Italian sausage links
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 4 mushrooms, sliced
  • 2/3 cup shredded smoked gouda cheese
  • 2/3 cup shredded fontina cheese
  • Corn meal, for dusting the pizza peel
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
Combine the sugar, salt, 1 tablespoon olive oil, water, flour and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Combine using the paddle attachment just until a dough forms. Then, attach the dough hook -- coat it with cooking spray -- and knead the dough for 15 minutes on medium speed.
Test the dough by tearing a small piece and forming a round. Pull the edges until a semi-transparent film forms. If a tear forms before the film does, knead the dough for an additional 5-10 minutes.
When the dough is done being kneaded, place it on a clean surface and work into a tight ball. Coat with the 2 teaspoons of olive oil and place in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

On the day you want to make the pizza, place the dough on the counter and cover with a tea towel. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees and place a pizza stone at the lowest rack. Let the dough rest on the counter for 30 minutes.

Heat a pan over medium heat and fry the sausage -- remove it from its casings -- until fully cooked. Remove to a dish and fry the onion in the oil remaining in the pan. When the onions are caramelized, remove them from the heat as well. Slice the mushrooms and shred the cheese while you wait for the dough to rest as well.

Sprinkle corn meal onto a pizza peel. Using your hands, stretch the dough into a round disk, rotating after each stretch. Remember to shake the pizza on the peel to make sure it will slide into the oven.

Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce -- choose your favorite variety -- evenly over the crust. Arrange the cooked sausage, onions, mushrooms and shredded cheeses over the crust. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until the crust is golden and the cheese is melted and bubbly. Cut into wedges and serve immediately.

  • Yields: 1 pizza
  • Preparation Time: 24 hours
If there's a topic that you'd like to see covered in this column, let me know. You can always post comments in the discussion board using the forms provided in the articles or email me directly at .

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