I’m back from Sunburst Tomato Farm in Momeyer, North Carolina. What a great trip! While I was learning about growing tomatoes in the winter, I was thinking about making a homemade pizza recipe to add to my cooking classes. But then, I thought, what does the local tomato farmer like to make with his fresh tomatoes?
Tim Bass of Sunburst Tomatoes says he prefers the raw, natural flavor of his tomatoes in a Tomato Sandwich, “two slices of bread, some mayonnaise and a slice of tomato” is his favorite homemade tomato recipe.
Well, that might suit the tomato farmer, but Tim sent me home with a sack full of quality tomatoes and all I can think about is a homemade pizza recipe that I simply call “tomato pie”. I don’t use pizza sauce. No, instead, I use sliced tomatoes. But I’m jumping ahead in this cooking class, let’s start with the crust.
This is my tried and true basic homemade pizza dough recipe: 18 ounces flour, 10 ounces water, 2 teaspoons of yeast. This will be the basis for the pizza crust that will then complete the standard 10 step yeast dough process.
You want to take time mixing the ingredients together, because you want for gluten to develop in the process. Moisture and agitation develop gluten which will help to develop that wonderful chewy crust that we’ve all come to expect and love in our pizza. After the pizza dough is mixed, you need to allow it to ferment until it doubles in size. At this point, knock all of the air out of the dough and allow it to rise again. Now, the homemade pizza crust starts to take form. Using a rolling pin and a thick marble* slab, flatten the dough to create the pizza crust.
*(Marble is a wonderful medium to use when you are dealing with dough or pastry because the thickness of the slab helps to keep the temperature consistently cool to create a better product.)
I like to use a pizza peel to get my pizza in the oven. I put a little bit of corn meal on the peel to help with the flavor as well as making it easier to get the pizza off of the peel when I’m ready to put it into the oven. Once the homemade pizza crust is on the peel, I like to go around the edge of the pizza crust folding over the edge to form the outer edge of the pizza. Also, brush on a little olive oil to ensure a nice brown crust and I like to add some freshly cut garlic as well.
Let’s keep moving along in this cooking class…
Instead of a tomato sauce recipe, thinly sliced tomatoes will form the foundation of the tomato pie recipe, and this homemade pizza goes in the oven, on top of heated stones.
What? Only tomatoes on the homemade pizza?
No, I want more ingredients, but the tomatoes take longer to cook! Only after the tomatoes have cooked is the cheese and basil added. Basil is too delicate to allow it to bake for the same time as the tomatoes, so it’s added at the very end in a fancy French knife skill called “chiffonade”.
The best homemade pizza recipe is the one that uses the freshest, best ingredients, like tomatoes from your local farmer. The homemade pizza that you create will have much more flavor, nutrition and sense of pride that you made it. Not only that, it will be better for you as well. I hope you’ve enjoyed this cooking class, now go make a pizza!!
Chef Todd Mohr is a classically trained chef, entrepreneur, cooking educator and founder of WebCookingClasses. You can experience his unique approach to no-recipe cooking with his FREE online cooking classes . The 7 minute class will change the way you think about cooking forever.