Category Archives: Pizza

Forno Bravo Pizza Crust


As many of you already know, we spent a year of our lives making a pizza oven.  Insane?  Yes, probably.  There were many frustrating moments in which I swore I hated the massive pile of concrete and brick–like when it was a 110 degrees outside and the awning keeping the sun off wasn’t enough to keep us from burning up; when the summer storms hit quick and we tried desperately and often unsuccessfully to keep the awning in place in 60 MPH winds; cutting and recutting stone to get it to fit and when it finally did the whole top would collapse; hands that were so dry from the concrete they would crack and bleed with any sort of movement–awwww I cherish those memories.  Actually, now that it is all over, they make me smile (and realize I never want to build another one–EVER–in my lifetime) and understand how much of ourselves we gave to that oven.  Now I LOVE it!

So this is how our pizza nights go here at the casa.  I make the dough, roll out the crusts, and decide on and prep the toppings.  During which time my hubby splits the wood, fires up the oven, and cooks the pizzas to perfection!  I usually get things started about 1 or 2 in the afternoon and by 7ish we are eating pies!  After-which, we turn up the tunes, pour another big glass of wine and/or beer and sit in front of the oven reflecting on the day and how lucky we are to be living our dream!

I thought it was about time to share the crust recipe that I most often use with you.  It is from Forno Bravo–where we learned how to build our oven.  I haven’t tried it in a conventional oven, so I don’t know the best cooking time.  In fact, I don’t even know the best temp since conventional ovens do not get to 900 degrees like my pizza oven.  My suggestion is to play around with it set between 450 and 500 degrees, watch it closely, and let ME know what works best!  The best advice I can give you is to use MY pizza sauce recipe, go LIGHT on the toppings, use a high quality cheese (or cheeses), roll out a nice and thin crust, cook with a very hot oven, and serve immediately.  This will get you closer to authentic pizza than about anything.  Oh, and stay away from toppings that are high in natural juices or fat–during the cooking process they will weep out and ultimately cause the crust to get soggy.  If you want to use something like pineapple or fatty meats cook them ahead of time!  TRUST ME ON THIS–we have cooked a ridiculous amount of pies and sadly ruined a LOT of crusts experimenting!

A couple of crusts ready to be topped!

By Volume

  • 4 cups Molino Caputo Tipo 00 or bread flour
  • 1 ½ cups, plus 2 TBL water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dry active yeast
  • Fun ingredients to mix in with your dough–freshly ground pepper, chopped fresh rosemary, dried basil, dried oregano, chipotle pepper flakes, cumin seed or any of your favorite DRY herbs and spices!!

Throw all ingredients into your mixer.  Mix it slowly for two minutes, switch to the dough hook and then mix it faster for 5 minutes, and slow again for 2 minutes.  Check out youtube for videos on prepping the dough and rolling out thin crusts!

Cover the dough and let it rise for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, or until double. Punch it down and push out the air bubbles. Form the dough into a large ball, then cut it into 4 pieces.

To make your pizza balls, shape each piece of dough into a ball. Gently roll your dough into a ball, then stretch the top of the ball down and around the rest of the ball, until the outer layer wraps around the other side. Pinch the two ends together to make a smooth ball with a tight outer “skin.” Set your ball seam-side down where it can rest. Dust your pizza balls with flour, and store them under a damp towel, in a proofing tray, or under plastic wrap. This will prevent the outside of the ball from drying out and creating a crust, and becoming difficult to work with. The top of the pizza ball should be soft and silky.

Your pizza balls will need to rest for about an hour to become soft and elastic, so that they can be easily be stretched or rolled into a thin crust pizza.

Rolled out paper thin for a super crispy crust!

If you won’t need your dough for more than an hour, refrigerate it until you are ready to start.

Cozy by the fire!



Bestest Pesto

Bestest Pesto!

Whats better than Pesto?  Huh, no really?!  We used to buy ours from Costco by the truckload!  Not anymore!

Your jaw would have dropped to see how many (33) basil plants I had in the garden last year.  Each growing about 30 or more inches tall!  That is a LOT of sweet basil!  Oh, and I also had about 10 globe and 10 thai basil plants!  What did that mean for my summer?  You could most often find me in the kitchen whipping up big batches of pesto!  It smelled so good all summer long and I never tired of the process!  I love that I can pull a bag out of my freezer even in the depths of winter and be reminded of summer and all of those beautiful plants!

The recipe I have posted is just a guide.  Adjust the ingredients to suit your taste.  I rarely measure anything when I make it now…I just go by how it looks, smells, and feels.  As it should be!

Bestest Pesto

4 c fresh basil leaves

10 garlic cloves

1 1/3 c mixed pine nuts and pistachios

1 1/4 c evoo

1 1/4 c freshly grated Parmesan and Romano cheeses

2 t chipotle pepper flakes

Place the basil, garlic, pepper and nuts together in a food processor.  Add the oil while the machine is processing.  Add the cheese and mix briefly.  You may have to do this in two batches depending upon the size of your food processor!

Oh, you can buy the pistachios shelled at Sams!  Saves a good bit of time and energy!

Bon Appetit!!

Roasted Garlic

My husband and I eat roasted garlic like candy!  Yep, sometimes we STINK!

Roasted Garlic

Preheat oven to 350 or 400 degrees F

If preparing a head:  just slice off the top of the head to expose a small portion of all of the cloves.  Place it cut side down in a pan coated with a drizzle of EVOO, a dash of sea salt and a sprinkling of Chipotle Pepper Flakes.  Bake for 30 minutes, give or take.  When ready, the cloves will slide right out of the skin.

If preparing pre-skinned cloves:  Just thow the cloves in a pan, drizzle with evoo, sprinkle with pepper and salt as desired.  Bake for 25-30 min or until they turn tan in color.

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

When I learned that my husband was building an outdoor stone pizza oven I panicked!  I am not really into baking and had never even tried to make crust, much less own a mixer!  I immediately started my on-line research in the hope of  mastering the art of pizza dough.  This, of course, naturally led me to Craigslist–there was NO WAY I was manually whipping together a crust!!  So I went searching for an almost-new 6 qt, professional, KitchenAid mixer that wouldn’t break my bank.  The seller lived in a trailer court on the south side of Springfield.  Wow, that was an interesting and sorta scary experience that I may share at another time, but I am happy to say that I did get the mixer!  After VERY thoroughly disinfecting it and MYSELF (I think the cigarette stench is still lingering on my skin-ugh) I started my crust experimentation.

Andy and I prefer cracker-thin, super crispy crust which isn’t as easy as it sounds.  Especially since I was determined to make it as healthful as possible.  I found a whole-wheat crust recipe on-line and after much research and many modifications I think this is about as good as it will get!

So here it goes…

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

Servings 3-4 pizzas

1 pkg yeast or 2 1/4 t

1 1/2 c warm water

3 1/2 c whole wheat bread flour (I bought mine at a local organic grocery here in Springfield–whole foods probably has it as well)

2 t salt

2 t sugar

evoo as needed

In a bowl, add the yeast and sugar to the water and let sit while preparing the dry ingredients.

Put all of the dry ingredients in the mixer and give it a spin.  Once the yeast has sprung to life (top will get a little bubbly and you will smell the yeast), slowly add it to the dry ingredients with the mixer on low.  Once all ingredients are mixed together, replace your mixing attachment on the mixer with the dough hook.  Use the dough hook on low for a couple of minutes.  Move the mixing bowl to a warm location.  Put a thin coat of evoo on the dough, cover and let it rise for an hour or two.  Once it has risen to your liking, punch it down and divide into 4 equal parts (if you like thicker crust, divide in a 1/3 or 1/2).  You can either let this rise again or start rolling it out (which is what I do).  I roll it super thin and brush it with garlic infused evoo (see my recipe for roasted garlic and/or garlic infused evoo).  It is now ready to bake.  I strongly suggest investing in a pizza stone if you don’t have one.  Make sure that you let the stone warm up with the oven — DO NOT put a cold stone in a hot oven IT WILL CRACK!

Pre-bake the pizza crust at 500 for 3-5 minutes.  Remove from the oven and add your toppings.  Bake again for 7-10 minutes or until you are happy with how the pimma looks!

Bon Appetit!

Pizza Sauce

My husband is building a pizza oven for us, so I have taken on the task of making the perfect pie!  I should begin by saying that I LOVE pizza with a lot of sauce (or at least I used to) and think it is probably the most critical ingredient on the pizza!  What I have realized through my experimentation is that you really don’t need a lot of sauce if the sauce is packed full of flavor.  So here is my version of a super simple, yet flavorful sauce!  I hope you love it as much as we do!!

Pizza Sauce

3-4 servings (small pizzas)

1 14 oz can stewed tomatoes

3-4 cloves garlic

2 t dried oregano

2 t dried basil

dash of sea salt

1-2 t freshly ground black pepper

splash of agave nectar

1 t (or more) chipotle pepper flakes

Thow it all in the blender and let it rip!  I wasn’t lying, right?  Super Simple and very tasty!!